Sylvester: Michiels takes the overall victory
In the usually very fast terrains of Pijnven, today's race was one of the most exciting finals we've had in the Sylvester. With several people who had chances for the podium, a good result today was absolutely necessary.
The terrain, close to the Flanders 3 days 2011 terrains, is as white as white can get. Running straight is the best choice in normal circumstances. Today, the snow introduced some routechoice in the courses, since using the paths could potentially be faster. It also avoids wasting energy.
Several podium contenders had early starting times. Daniel Zwiker, Alexander Lubina, Tomas Hendrickx and Thomas van der Kleij started early on. That did not influence the result as much as during the first days. Later runners had hardly any tracks in the snow. Zwiker missed a control and was disqualified. We don't know what happened exactly, but it left the door open for the others to improve their result. Van der Kleij ran a solid race, losing some time, but not too much and arrived in a strong 51:40. Lubina had more troubles and had to be satisfied with a 54 minute time. Hendrickx ran approximately the same time. For Lubina, this started a nervous wait for the next guys to arrive.
Yannick Michiels, last year's number two Pieter Hendrickx and yours truly started in the middle of the pack. It was Hendrickx who made a big mistake to control 4 and he got caught up by me and together we could not find the control either. We did find the plastic paper with the number, but no control. It wasn't until Wim Bries arrived that he saw the control (which was in the correct position, the pré-balise wasn't). Hendrickx, being Michiels teammate, did not take the lead and so we arrived in a time of 50:00. Michiels couldn't catch us, but was running as strong as yesterday. Another strong performance lead to a top time of 48:40. It was clear that Michiels had won the overall ranking by then.
The last runners to start were Ken Peeters, Desmond Franssen and Joost Talloen. Talloen, having skipped yesterday, had fresh legs and ran a time of 50:30. Peeters was even stronger and finished in 50:10. Both were too far out for the podium. It was only Franssen who could make it, but he didn't. A 52-minute time was not good enough to make it in the top three.
Things weren't clear-cut for Lubina and myself for third position. In the end, after correcting yesterday's timing problems, the difference was just 4 points, with Lubina taking the final place on the podium.
In the women's class, things were also decided today. Iliana Shandurkova and Kim Geypen had to compete for the first position. Geypen was clearly the fastest of the two today. She was one minute faster than today's number 2, Miek Fabré, who competed only the first and the last days. Shandurkova was some 6 minutes behind. This meant Geypen was the one to take the first prize home. Julia Blomquist managed to fend off Katja Stöckli and finished in third position overall.
map (Jeroen H)