Niels Albert planning to bounce back in Tabor
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Niels Albert planning to bounce back in Tabor

by Kyle Moore at 3:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
Belgian playing catch-up after Plzen start debacle

Neils AlbertAfter getting caught behind a rogue camera operator at the start of last week’s cyclo-cross World Cup opener in Plzen, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) is confident that he can rebound this Sunday in Tabor, Czech Republic. For its second round, the cyclo-cross World Cup races again in the Czech Republic, home of current world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step).

Stybar finished third last week in Plzen, behind winner Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor). But the three gained an advantage over Albert and several others when a camera operator did not clear the course in time for the start. French national champion Frances Mourey (FDJ) was another who had to expend energy early in the race to catch up to the leading group, but by the time he and Albert had done that, Stybar, Pauwels, and Nys were already up the course, and impossible to catch. Albert still managed eighth at the finish, 55 seconds behind Nys.

Albert appealed to race organizers following the race, but to no avail. “The start procedure was normal, and thirty seconds before the race we took the tape off the start line and went to our positions,” UCI controller Miriam Van Es stated in comments last week. “I had not seen the cameraman, but [after the start] I saw that riders still remained.

“I realized that something was wrong, but I saw Albert take off and I decided not to call a false start.”

Understandably upset after last week’s race, Albert had hoped for some sort of decision to his benefit. None would come, but now the Belgian national champion seems to have refocused.

“For Sunday’s race, I would not necessarily call it revenge,” he told Sporza. “I haven’t given up on the World Cup just yet. In Tabor, I’m going for the win. If I’m successful, I’ll be a participant in the rankings again.

“What is past is past, and I cannot change it.”

This weekend in Tabor, Albert must deal with his current points disadvantage, as well as a revitalized Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels, an improving Stybar on a home course, and a host of others including Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) who are currently riding well.

But Albert refuses to look back at what might have been. “Hindsight is sheer nonsense,” he added. “Especially when you hear that Nys and Stybar didn’t even know what had happened [at the start]. They rode a great race and you can’t take points away from them. The only option was a new start.”

In an interesting twist of fate, Albert shared a plane ride home from Plzen with Van Es, the UCI employee in charge of the race. “Coincidentally, I sat right next to her on the plane,” Albert explained. “Quite a funny situation. Not a few seats in front or behind, but right next to her. The poor lady probably did not know how to act. Perhaps she was afraid of my reaction.

“I waited an hour and a half for a conversation, but there wasn’t one.”


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