Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Local star Frank Schuttert has pulled off an extraordinary home win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard.
The 24-year-old Dutchman had the crowd on their feet, following a fantastic jump-off with only one hundredth of a second between first and second place.
“I am speechless,” Frank said. “It’s my first five-star Grand Prix win. I was waiting for this moment and in front of a Dutch crowd it’s amazing, fantastic and a dream come true.”
There were 11 top combinations in the jump-off, including Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Jessica Springsteen, Simon Delestre and Eric Lamaze. And with the series in its final stages the atmosphere was tense, as riders fought for valuable points on the leaderboard.
Dutch fans held their breath as Frank and his 10-year-old bay stallion Chianti’s Champion delivered a deceptively fast clear round, stopping the clock in 39.89sec.
Niels Bruynseels looked threatening with Cas de Liberte Z, but he could not beat the leading time.
As the jump-off raced towards its climax Marcus Ehning and Cornado NRW cranked up the pressure and it looked like they would take the lead – but they crossed the finish line an incredible hundredth of a second behind the young Dutch rider.
Frank’s first five-star win has secured him a coveted spot in the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in Prague in December.
As the tour heads to the final two events, Ben Maher is still sitting on top of the overall LGCT championship ranking. However, he didn’t compete in the Grand Prix in Valkenswaard, which has allowed his rivals to edge closer.
“It’s getting close, and a lot could have changed around today,” said Ben after the competition. “Valkenswaard wasn’t a planned show for myself, but the break came at a good time, to take a breather and regroup so we can get a couple more points for the stages ahead.”
The tour now heads to Rome (6-9 September), before the final in Doha (8-10 November).