Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) took a breakthrough victory in the Merksplas Superprestige race on Saturday, distancing the rest of the field in the thick mud and leafy course north of Antwerp to win his first major race after a number of prestigious placings.
The 27-year-old took advantage of the absence of several big-name riders who were focused on Sunday’s World Cup race in Troyes, France. He started fast with Niels Vanderputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and soon distanced him with more power and bike skills in the tough conditions. It was his second win of 2023 after winning the Major Taylor Cross Cup race in the USA in October.
Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) had won all three Superprestige races this season but was off the pace early in the race this time, perhaps saving something for Sunday. However he fought with Spain’s Felipe Orts and then surged late to catch and pass Vanderputte on the final lap to snatch second place but 1:36 down on Nieuwenhuis.
Vanderputte was disappointed to miss out on his chance of a Superprestige win but salvaged third ast 1:45. Orts was fourth at 1:57. It was Orts best ever result in a Superprestige race.
Full report to follow.
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