Belgian Champion Niels Albert (BKCP Powerplus) is on a tear at the World Championships approach, he took the win in the final race and the overall World Cup Series. The Hoogerheide course has been good to Albert.
“I was world champion here in 2009, last year I won my last race here in the World jersey and today I won the World Cup so for me it is a very nice comeback.” he said after the race.
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But his win on Sunday afternoon didn’t seem likely after the first half of the race during which World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) blew the opposition away. The Czech rider gathered a lead of more than twenty seconds but it wasn’t enough to claim victory.
The chase was on, with American Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) setting the pace for awhile. One by one, the chase group dwindled, until four riders, Albert, Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea), Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) caught Styby.
During the seventh of ten laps on the slippery course Albert accelerated once again. This time only Pauwels was able to stay within ten seconds of Albert. However, he was unable to keep up the pace, leaving Albert to race to victory. Pauwels finished second and Nys held off Stybar for the last podium spot.
All the US riders had a good start, at the front as the field made its way onto the first muddy section. Johnson was 6th and stayed in the front group, leading the chase. He ultimately finished 16th. His teammate Jeremy Powers crashed on the second turn and went quickly from 8th to 53rd. After re-composing himself, Powers finished 36th. The third teammate Jamey Driscoll had a good start but then bobbles cost him and he finished 28th. More bad luck for Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) who had a shifting problem and he finished 10th.
Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus). “In the start, I was I think about 5 or 6th, in the first down after the start, I get a push from a guy and I lose control and I sit in the first two corners, there was some disaster (laughs) and I lost many many places and then I think it was third or fourth rounds that I come onto the front group and then I saw that Styby was 20 seconds but it was always 20 seconds for two rounds so I didn’t expect that I can close the gap on Styby but round by round, I come five seconds, six seconds and two rounds to the end I was in the front…”
About powering away. “It was the running zone, then a little bit difficult passage, just before the materiaalbox [pit], at the bridge [fly-over], I had two or three seconds and that was for me the start sign to go for victory.”
Sven Nys (landbouwkrediet). “I don’t know what happened. I was in 7th or 8th place and I never saw Stybar riding away, I just had the good feeling for my own and we’ll see. I saw there was a guy standing with how many seconds I was behind and every lap it’s going downwards so I say okay, maybe I can win again, I try to focus on myself and a certain way, I saw that I was riding for first place, maybe he was riding too fast in the beginning because on the last laps he was really struggling with himself.”
About his race. “It was really perfect what I did. The only part of the race was I had a small crash with my bars in to barriers and it cost maybe 10, 15 seconds and I was in the front at that moment so maybe that’s what cost me a little bit longer at the front but I think they were a little bit stronger the first two ”
Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com). “That was certainly light years better than I thought it would go. Last year I had kind of medium race, two years ago I got absolutely destroyed. I was happy that the first 45 minutes I was basically mistake free, it was good, I felt good. As Americans we get a lot of shit, complaining about the rankings, what did I get today, 15th? 16th I’m ranked 15th in the world perfect. I want better, I really want better. When I lost that group, top 5 maybe, I made a few mistakes and that was the start of it all, when you run out of energy you start making mistakes.”
About leading the chase. “They were sitting up, it was easier for me to be on the front. Someday we’ll get to the point where we can we’re trying to win the race but at that point I was just trying to get as deep into the race as possible as far forward as possible. So if I was still top 5 after half an hour awesome, if I was top 5 after 45 minutes even better.”
Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com). “It was a good race, I just ate it in the second corner, I got forced to the outside and I hadn’t taken that route during training and I didn’t realize there was a big hole and I just went over the bars and so.. I was in dead last and so then I got I think 34th, I did the best that I could, I’m actually okay with it because I know I did a couple of good laps, I had to get my head out of my ass originally because I was so pissed off because it was a missed opportunity again and you don’t get a lot here. To mess up and to move forward from that mess up is hard but it’s good, it’s okay. I have good fitness.”
About the course. “Every minute, there’s another hard obstacle. There’s a 180, and then a slimy, then a rut. You go around the rut and there’s a really deep hard off-camber rut, you go down that one and then you have to go from there to a run, you’re off your bike and running, you have a really steep climb that you can barely can ride. Then you come down and there’s a slimy corner that you have to really navigate, it’s just constantly thinking about what’s the next thing.”
Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com). “It’s the first race this big that I got a good start, that was nice but I basically wasted though, not riding well, kept bobbling, a lot of sections out there that you have to nail. ”
Top 10 Results
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP – Powerplus 1:04:21
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet – Fidea 0:00:06
3. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:32
4. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet – Fidea 0:00:37
5. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb – Revor 0:00:38
6. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet – Fidea 0:00:47
7. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP – Powerplus 0:01:00
8. Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ 0:01:11
9. Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 0:01:35
10. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 0:02:00
16. Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:02:29
20. Jonathan Page (USA) 0:02:49
28. James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:03:59
36. Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:04:44
55. Derrick St John (Can) -3laps
56. Craig Richey (Can) -3laps
58. Shaun Adamson (Can) -5laps