Nissen has been riding the race since 2015, won at the premiere and has always been on the podium in the final account ever since, and also this year he was considered one of the favorites of this high-quality race in the starting town of La Roche-en-Ardenne. The Belgian mountain bike champion Frans Claes and cyclocross stars such as Laurens Sweeck, Quinten Hermans and Wietse Bosmans (ERA Circus) were among those competing.
The first section boasted 2,450 meters difference in altitude, spread over 84 kilometers. Nissen looks back: "From the very beginning I knew it would be really difficult this year, and so I wanted to make a good start. After 40 kilometers of racing, the lead with ten drivers was sorted. As the Dane starting for Luxembourg didn't feel so perfect, he waited - also because 1,000 meters of ascents were still waiting on the last 20 kilometers. When they began, Nissen attacked, and only Sweeck and Claes could follow at first. After another five kilometers he had also lost them and built up his lead to more than one minute until the finish. "Good feeling to win the first stage and wear the leading jersey.”
The second stage brought even more vertical meters and kilometers: 3,050 meters difference in altitude on 100 kilometers. "This stage was more like a 100-kilometer long CrossCountry race with its countless bends and curves," says the Dane, who won the Luxembourg Cyclocross Championship at the beginning of the year. During the race he was doing better than he had thought at the beginning. He was in a leading group of five when the Austrian Christoph Soukup took off. Nissen let him go to save some grains for the last stage. But due to finishing on second place that day he kept the overall lead.
Nissen led three minutes before Soukup before the start of the final leg. "But even a three-minute lead is nothing if you have a bad day or a defect," says Nissen. Everyone was exposed to bad weather with lots of rain and temperatures below 10°C. The course was correspondingly muddy. Towards the end of the stage, Nissen stepped up the pace knowing that his direct rivals at the top were suffering from the deep ground. First Sweeck, then De Nijs, and finally Frans Claes on a steep passage had to let him escape.
At the finish line Søren Nissen had all the time to raise his arms as stage- and overall winner of the Belgian Mountain Bike Challenge on STEVENS Sonora SL.