This past weekend saw the national cyclo-cross championships held in a number of European countries.
As usual, the Belgian elite men's championships in Hofstade generated a lot of interest, given that they boasted the highest quality field. The honours this year went to Sven Nys (Rabobank) after a closely fought race between Bart Wellens, reigning world champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) and Niels Albert (Palmans).
All four traded the lead in the final laps, with Wellens surging ahead at the end of the first sand section on the final lap. But Nys was able to counter-attack on the last running section with less than a kilometre to go, and held on to beat a disappointed Wellens by two seconds with Albert finishing third ahead of Vervecken at four seconds.
The elite women's race wasn't as close as the men's, with Loes Sels taking a comfortable 41 second victory over Veerle Ingels (AVB/USspa) and Katrien Pauwels (Fidea).
Men's and women's national champions by country
Belgium: Sven Nys (Rabobank) and Loes Sels
Czech Republic: Zdenek Stybar (Fidea)
Denmark: Christian Poulsen (Kolding BC) and Nicoline Hansen (BOV CC)
France: Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) and Laurence Leboucher (Pays de la Loire)
Germany: Malte Urban (RC Endspurt Herford) and Hanka Kupfernagel (World Sports Star - Focus)
Great Britain: Roger Hammond (Team High Road Sports) and Helen Wyman (Swift Racing)
Ireland: Roger Aiken (Banbridge) and Tarja Owens (Team WORC)
Italy: Marco Aurelio Fontana (Selle Italia Guerciotti) and Vania Rossi (Selle Italia Elite)
Luxembourg: Jempy Drucker (Fidea) and Nathalie Lamborelle (Team Uniqa)
Netherlands: Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Mirjam Melchers (Flexpoint/WV de Meteoor)
Poland: Mariusz Gil (LKS POM Strzelce Krajenskie) and Marzena Wasiuk (Primus)