Andy Vernon led from start to finish to secure a superb win in the CrossCup in Hannut on Sunday.
A team gold medallist at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia last month, the Great Britain athlete triumphed in 26:54 over 9km in this European Athletics Cross Country Permit race.
Vernon won ahead of Belgium’s Souffiane Bouchiki (27:07) and Isaac Kimeli (27:17), the Euro Cross under-23 champion, with Italy’s Marco Salami in fourth (27:33).
He was delighted with his success and tweeted: "Pleased to take the win today. 50% win rate and 75% podiums for 2017. Great start to the year."
It was an impressive performance from Vernon, 31, who was third at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Antrim last weekend.
As he led, his rivals were in a small group behind including Bouchiki, Kimeli, Germany’s Amanal Petros and Belgium’s Jeroen D'hoedt.
But as they entered the last lap of this 74th Hannut Cross Country, Vernon was in control and there was extra reward for Bouchiki in second as the performance elevated him to the top of the CrossCup rankings.
Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu retained her title in the senior women’s 6km in 20:17 from Louise Carton (20:21) and Romania’s Roxana Barca (20:44).
It was a big run from Carton – who later revealed that she has been suffering from a stomach ulcer.
Carton was battling all the way with Adamu on the last lap but her opponent had just a little bit too much in the end, though the Belgian remained happy.
Speaking to nieuwsblad.be, Carton said: “I am satisfied with my performance, I gave my all but could not answer the acceleration of Adamu.
“I've known recently that my stomach problems were caused by an ulcer. I take now medication and today I felt improvement. I hope we have found the solution.”
The next round of the CrossCup, on 12 February in Rotselaar, will also double as the Flemish Championship.
At the second European Athletics Cross Country Permit meeting on Sunday, the Cross de Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei won the senior men’s race over 10.8km and Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi triumphed in the women’s 7.6km event.
In the latter, there was podium joy for the home crowd as Spain´s Trihas Gebre was third in 25:37 as Teferi won in 25:18 from Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet in 25:30
Cheptegei was first in the men’s race in 31:50 ahead of Bahrain’s defending champion Aweke Ayalew (32:16) with Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto in third (32:27). The leading European was Spain’s Javier Guerra in fifth (32:32).