Ate something wrong or just a bad day for the entire Belgian junior collective. There is no other description. Fabian Maes became the first compatriot in only fifteenth place, while the team wanted to play for the medals. After a very exciting final round, gold went to French home rider Aubin Sparfel.
The Belgians were not yet awake at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, when the starting shot sounded. Only around position twenty did we find the first compatriots again. At the very front, it was again the blue shirts of France who made the best of it. The victory in the mixed team relay and the victory of junior Célia Gery earlier on Sunday morning clearly gave encouragement.
Arthur Van den Boer, the Belgian favorite, followed even further away. He was in the company of Dutchmen Haverdings and Solen. At the end of the first lap, five rode away, including no fewer than three Frenchmen. Aubin Sparfel, Jules Simon and Paul Seixas set out with the Italian Stefano Viezzi and the Hungarian Zsombor Takacs, who finished third on the Koppenberg last week. His Hungarian compatriot Barbanas Vas – brother of Blanka Vas – also soon joined. Five became six.
Where are the Belgians?
After two rounds, Van den Boer was in the company of Dutchman Remijn, also one of the top favorites. But that was still outside the top fifteen and almost 45 seconds from the head of the race. He would eventually fall completely through the ice and not make it into the top twenty.
There the three Frenchmen neatly took turns to do the leading work. The two Hungarians and the Italian were able to avoid the situation. However, things went a bit too fast for the Hungarian pair and Viezzi had to fight a French trident on his own.
But the Hungarians are tough. Certainly Vas did not give up and came back in the penultimate round. He even moved up to second place, while the Italian Viezzi took the lead, but the six were again close to each other.
The six of them entered the final phase. Seixas was the first to crack. Vas also seemed to be having a bit of a hard time, under the pounding of his compatriot Takacs. The other four were neck and neck. Sparfel and Takacs in particular continuously played leapfrog in the final round and broke away from Viezzi and Simon.
A sprint with two, and Sparfel came out on top, albeit very narrowly. The third category at this European Championship, the third gold in a row for home country France. What a wealth! With Simon, the bronze also went to our southern neighbors. Fabian Maes was the first Belgian to just barely finish in the top 15.