Tuesday, November 7, 2023 at 8:00 AM
The Annual Market Cross will have its 61st edition in 2023. In the Antwerp village of Niel, the cyclo-cross classic has already made its way through quite a few waters. CyclingFlits takes you into the history of the competition.
On November 11, 1963, the municipality of Niel organized the Annual Market Cross for the first time. Until then, a running cross was organized every year, but when the athletics association prohibited athletes from running through the city center streets (which was precisely the charm during the popular annual fair), the event was switched to a cyclocross. An idea by Ronald Spagnaerts, who ran the Libertas bicycle factory in Niel. Libertas was then a sponsor of a professional team.
Niel is now one of the oldest existing cyclo-cross races on the current calendar and can rely on a rich history with renowned names such as Erik De Vlaeminck, Roland Liboton, Hennie Stamsnijder, Paul Herygers, Mario De Clercq, Adrie van der Poel, Erwin Vervecken , Richard Groenendaal, Bart Wellens, Lars Boom, Niels Albert, Sven Nys and in more recent years Toon Aerts and of course Mathieu van der Poel on the honors list. Nys is the record holder with six victories in the Nielse center. Sanne Cant won five times among the ladies.
Nys and Albert in the clinch in Niel – photo: Cor Vos
The Annual Market Cross – always on Armistice Day – that will go down in history as one of the most memorable cyclo-cross races ever is the one in 2009, one of those years in which the battle between fellow villagers and rivals Niels Albert and Sven Nys was particularly fierce.
At one of the obstacles, reigning world champion Albert (unconsciously, but it didn’t seem that way) hindered crowd favorite Nys, whereupon the crowd started Niels Albert from yours. The Tremelo resident further shocked the crowd with a hand gesture, after which the game was completely over. Albert was Jut’s head and was so frustrated afterwards that he thought about quitting cross-country. It went so far that the two main players were allowed to come and explain and reconcile it a few days later during Sportweekend.
The Annual Market Cross was part of the Gazet van Antwerpen Cyclo-Cross Trophy for 23 years, until it became a so-called ‘separate cross’ in 2009. The organizations called it a conscious step back at the time. In 2018, the classic made a one-off comeback in the regularity criterion (then the DVV Trophy) and in 2022 it made its debut in the Telenet Superprestige.
Van der Poel is also already on the honors list in Niel – photo: Cor Vos
Last ten winners Annual market cross Niel
2022: Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado
2021: Lucinda Brand
2020: Lucinda Brand
2019: Lucinda Brand
2018: Sanne Cant
2017: Nikki Brammeier
2016: Sanne Cant
2015: Sanne Cant
2014: Sanne Cant
2013: Sanne Cant
2022: Laurens Sweeck
2021: Eli Iserbyt
2020: Laurens Sweeck
2019: Mathieu van der Poel
2018: Mathieu van der Poel
2017: Toon Aerts
2016: Toon Aerts
2015: Kevin Pauwels
2014: Sven Nys
2013: Sven Nys
In the 2023-2024 season, Niel’s Superprestige is scheduled for November 11, 2023.