Niels Vandeputte took a great sixth place in the sand of Merksplas on Saturday.

Niels Vandeputte took a great sixth place in the sand of Merksplas on Saturday. © mpics

Niels Vandeputte had a weekend with two faces. Saturday in Merksplas his performance was quite impressive, on Sunday it was a lot less on a difficult course in Overijse. Toon Vandebosch, in turn, didn’t make it into the rush hour two days in a row. He will train in Mallorca in the coming days.


On Saturday in Merksplas, Niels Vandeputte drove in the first round together with the later winner Laurens Sweeck. “My start there was indeed very good”, the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider was happy to admit. “I just have to admit that my legs weren’t 100 percent. I could no longer follow Sweeck in the second round, after which I ended up in a group of four, including Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout. In that group I was always at the back, in third or fourth position. You lose time in the woods because boys sometimes falter for you and you lose seconds yourself. So I finally had to unload. From then on I tried to keep my pace as high as possible. I was lucky enough to be in the wheel of the Spaniard Orts a few laps before the end, which gave me a chance to recover. In the final lap, Pidcock, who was just in front of me, got stuck in the sand for a while. I passed him and when I left the sand strip I gave everything for another minute, until the finish. It was perhaps the only time I can beat the world champion this year and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity. I think I can say that I got the most out of it with the legs I had in Merksplas.”

On Sunday in Overijse, the rider from Brecht fared less. “The start itself was still manageable, but on that first stage I immediately lost a number of places. My legs also filled up quickly on the uphill sections, so I mainly had to use the descent to recover. Of course I can’t really be satisfied with a fifteenth place. Let me conclude it was a weekend without super legs. Hopefully next week I will have better legs.”

Vandebosch on an internship in Spain

Toon Vandebosch had a bad start on both Saturday and Sunday. “I can still make an excuse for Sunday, because my spike shoe got stuck in my pedal,” says the rider from Malle. “At one point I was riding in twentieth place and I still finished twelfth. Then I can’t grumble. Saturday my start was bad because I was simply not good enough.”

This morning Vandebosch flew to Mallorca. “To train there with Laurens Sweeck until Friday. Next weekend I will let Kortrijk pass me by and I will only ride the World Cup race in Hulst.”

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