On the eve of Valentine's Day, it was indeed a story of a couple that made the headlines in Eeklo. With Kevin Kuhnbeing involved in a crash in the first corner, Corné Van Kessel and Quinten Hermans took a brilliant start for Tormans Cyclo Cross Team in the Ethias Cross Eeklo, and soon the former would take over the lead of the race on the first crossing of the line. Hermans would check the pursuit within touching distance of his teammate, and after a strong chase by Toon Aerts (Baloise-Trek), everybody was back together.
Hermans, however, immediately decided to take his chance and managed to create a gap at the front in the fourth lap. The roles were suddenly traded between Hermans and Van Kessel, with the Dutchman now in check of Aert's wheel to allow his partner of the day to get away. Little by little, thanks to a flawless ride, the Belgian increased his lead to 20 seconds with two laps to go. Eventually, Hermans crossed the line in tears of pure relief, thus clinching his first victory of the season. After what was an exemplary teamwork from the pair, Corné Van Kessel made a slipper and missed the podium. Emiel Verstrynge came in 16th, a little under 3 minutes behind today's winner. Their companions Thomas Mein and Kevin Kuhn were struck with bad luck and had to abandon the cross without any damages. The five men will race again in Brussels this Sunday, eventually joined by Théo Thomas if the Frenchman is recovered from illness.
« This victory feels great! Since my crash at the Dauphiné Libéré I never really felt exceptionally good, except for the World Championships. During the whole winter, I tried my best to reach my top level. I worked hard for it and took into account all details, but I was not rewarded with the results I hoped for. So it was a very emotional victory. In this aspect, even my Belgian and European titles don't come close. I'm motivated to give my all until the end of the season, however, I didn't expect to take a victory anymore. Because of the weather circumstances I even only added this race in Eeklo last minute to my programme. So this surprise makes it a beautiful win! »
« The team game with Corné was succesful today. In the beginning he was leading, until I took over in the fourth lap. Thanks to a collaboration with a mental coach and my experience, I raced from corner to corner and didn't look too far ahead. The surface was very slippery, so danger was everywhere, but I managed to avoid mistakes. I will enjoy this and take part in my two last races of the season with confidence, tomorrow in Brussels and next week in Oostmalle. »
Ethias Cross Eeklo :
2. Toon Aerts (Baloise-Trek) +15"
3. Eli Iserbyt (Paulwels) +27"
4. Corné Van Kessel +43"
16. Emiel Verstrynge +2'54"
DNF Kevin Kuhn
DNF Thomas Mein