After the first lap Coustellier had collected 5 penalty points, while home favourite Kenny Belaey was in second with 8 points.

Eventually a magnificent, nearly flawless second run by the French trials master gave him the edge over Belaey, despite an injury picked up in training.

Coustellier said: “In between the zones I was limping because of a training incident last week. Luckily this leg injury was not to bad, although I will definitely check on its status with the doctor this week.”

An enthusiastic crowd greeted Coustellier, Belaey and third placed Vincent Hermance (winner of the Knokke-Heist event in 2006) on the podium. Gilles swiftly took the lead in the World Cup standings, while his brother Giacomo, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Saturday, leaps to third in provisional standings. France’s Guillaume Dunand showed good form to claim fifth over countryman Aurélien Fontenoy.

Knokke-Heist also marked the first world Cup final of the season for Brit Ben Slinger and Canadian James Barton. Home rider Wesley did not make the final and ended a disappointing thirteenth overall.

The World Cup circus moves on to Zwitserland, Moutiers on September 7 for the deciding round of the season.

Image courtesy of Pixelpony