Nys wins in Koksijde: gray green and gold

It's raining in Koksijde. The sky is compact gray and a gray mist surrounds the start where riders stay shoulder to shoulder in their warmer clothes. They look nervous. A gray moisture steams up the camera that remains a little far to show the whole row, the UCI officials in raincoats and photographers standing up in their colored jackets.
There we go: the race starts. It's a fast start - again - for Lars Van der Haar but he can't resist the coming back of the peloton: he's 6th in a speedy line and will keep his position for almost all the race. Nys is behinde, Pauwels in front. But they are all together for those first laps, till when Vantornout breaks away - again -  2nd is Shimuneck then Pauwels. It's a fluid situation and in afew Aernouts leads followed by Vantornout and Pauwels. But the group is close.  
The concret is silver gray at each passage on the wet line. The camera zooms on muddy faces and chains. But the grass is green, humid and slippery. Few golden leaves on black trees or mud: painful beauty... Children run on the rain from barrier to barrier to see the riders ride. Men and women drink to keep warm under colored umbrelas and scream and ring cow bells. In front of them the big drama goes on. I wonder: what do you feel starting in a race when the weather is like that? throwing yourself in that mud, in that cold, in that merciless rain? Or you feel nothing, just the will to win, the shame to lose? 
Mechanic for Arnouts who has to stop and change his bike so now Vantornout and Pauwels are in front together: wet dirty white and red suits almost confused with the moisture on the screan.
Slippery mud means crashes and  sand seems glue in Koksijde today. Nys is still behinde, a little dropped: doesn't look in shape  or has he got a mechnic? Commentators talk about a 'technical problem'. The French Mourey leads: he was since the start in the front group and persists. In a twinkle: Niels Albert! he came from nowhere and is in front! what a control of his bike on that tricky terrain! what a class! watching him is a pure pleasure. They climb and descend the sandy hill, they fly on the muddy dirty road finding their way on the grassy edge, keeping the balance with a leg. 
The gap increases. It's Albert, Aenouts, Mourey and Pauwels. Vantornout a little dropped bust still there after an outstanding work for Pauwels. I'm breathing: it's a good race finally for him, he has got the chance to get a podium place...  And then... he falls! 
He falls on the slippery mud, has to fix his bike... ah! still bad luck! ...and - unbelivable! - also Vantornout falls, in the descent!  Niels, Mouray, Arnouts: the head of the race is far away. Nys 4th furiously chasing and in twinkle the chase is over: Nys joined! Nys 3rd! Nys passed Mourey! unstoppable! Mouray gets dropped on the muddy climb but manage to hang on.  
Last lap: Albert, Nys, Mourey, Aernouts. The camera is only for them now but behinde Lars Van der Haar is still 6th, Vantornout and Pauwels fighting to stay in group. It's the classic duel: Albert against Nys. They are equal: strong and skilled. Nys is looking the moment, the way, the gap to pass his rival. Perfection against perfection they will go together to the sprint. But no! Niels Albert makes a mistake on the mud, where Puwels crashed, and Nys passes.  Game over? it looks so! Nys is flying to the line solo. Nys won.
Nys doesn't fall and doesn't make mistakes. Today his face is a little dirty: he's human in the end and happy rising his arms again. The replay of Pauwels' crash shows him limping on his right knee: injuried? I hope no! Nys won the race but didn't win the overal yet: Albert still leads, Pauwels 4th. Interviewed Nys says it will hard. "C'est pas inattedu" says Mourey about his podium: He was feeling good and "Oui, c'est possible de battre les Belges! t's possible to beat the Belgians, I went close today". Happy on the podium, the less happy is Albert of course. Beside there is Pat McQuaid... I guess riders like podium girls more.

1. Sven Nys in 59'34"
2. Niels Albert op 15"
3. Francis Mourey (Fra) 20"

4. Bart Aernouts 33"
5. Klaas Vantornout 1'21"
6. Rob Peeters 1'28"
7. Dieter Vanthourenhout 1'33"
8. Tijs van Amerongen (Ned) 1'38"
9. Lars van der Haar (Ned) 1'45"
10. Philipp Walsleben (Dui) 1'56"
12 Kevin Pauwels
19 Franzoi

No comments: