Niels Albert, Sanne Van Paassen take wins at tough Superprestige Zonhoven
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Niels Albert, Sanne Van Paassen take wins at tough Superprestige Zonhoven

by Kyle Moore at 11:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Belgian and Dutch triumphs on hilly, sandy course

Niels AlbertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) won round two of the Superprestige Cyclo-cross series today in Zonhoven, Belgium, ahead of Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor). The Belgian national champion dominated the entirety of the race, riding mistake-free on a difficult, sandy course.

While Nys and Pauwels were able to remain within shouting distance for several laps, they were unable to make any real threats to Albert’s lead and the gap went out further before the finish. And although Pauwels sat on Nys early on, leaving the veteran Belgian to do all the work, the latter shed his younger rival before the halfway point and settled into a long, lone and ultimately fruitless pursuit of Albert.

Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) came home fourth, and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was fifth.

Having had a difficult early ‘cross season, Albert had to hold back tears as he crossed the finish line. In the World Cup opener in the Czech Republic, he was held up by a photographer on the start line, and never made it back to contention. Without top form, he had yet to be in the lead group of a major race this season. Today’s performance was a notable step up, and the win brought an understandable flood of relief.

“Hopefully I can quickly forget the last two weeks,” Albert told Sporza at the finish. “This is a boost, after I failed due to those circumstances in recent weeks. The critics are silenced.”

Wellens and Stybar were aggressive early on the undulating, sandy course. A long stretch of sand, that most riders chose to tackle on the right edge, gave Stybar trouble on the first lap. Albert took control, and got an early gap on the field with Nys and Pauwels in tow.

On lap two, Albert accelerated again, and used his prowess on the sand to leave the field behind. “I love ‘cross races in the sand,” he explained. “That’s why I am delighted with this victory. Actually, I saw this race partly as a test for the World Cup race in Koksijde.”

As Albert began his long, solo journey, Nys and Pauwels were chasing together, with Nys doing all the work. But the Belgian veteran looked much more comfortable in the sand than Pauwels, and he eventually pulled away, leaving Pauwels to toil alone in third.

“I misjudged Pauwels and stayed with him for too long when Niels attacked,” Nys explained to Sporza. “This race is a dream in terms of the spectacle. A complete rider will always win.

“I’m not too bad for the overall in the Superprestige. That’s the key.”

“Immediately it felt too fast when first Niels, and then Sven rode away from me,” Pauwels added. “My legs were probably not as good as they were last week (when he won in Tabor). The course was also not to my advantage.”

With five laps to race, Albert led Nys by fourteen seconds, while Pauwels had been caught behind by Stybar, Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant Offroad) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea). The quartet crossed the line 40 seconds back.

The Zonhoven course featured several steep hills, and a hair-raising downhill in deep sand proved to be an eventful location for spectators. Several spectacular over-the-handlebars crashes were witnessed, but none more dramatic than one initiated by Meeusen. The Belgian lost traction and went over the bars, and Aernouts couldn’t avoid the Telenet-Fidea rider’s machine. Aernouts locked the front brake and went over, landing squarely on Meeusen’s bike.

The crash looked serious but both were able to remount; Meeusen finished seventh and Aernouts gutted out an eighth place finish. The Rabobank-Giant Offroad rider even managed a smile in a post-race interview.

Pauwels was able to re-establish third place by himself with team-mate Klaas Vantornout running alone in sixth. With two laps to go, it appeared as if Albert was starting to tire. His work became more laboured through the sandy sections, yet though Nys maintained a strong pace, the gap expanded to 26 seconds.

As exhaustion set in, those time gaps remained through the finish.

The next race in the Superprestige series is Hamme-Zogge on November 13.

Meanwhile Sanne Van Paassen (Brainwash) won the women’s race, beating Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Sabrina Stultiens (Netherlands).

Pavla Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea) rode strongly on the first lap, stretching things out. Van Paassen then hit the jets on the second lap and pulled clear, and by the end of the lap she was fifteen seconds ahead of Harris, Stultiens, Sanne Cant (BKCP-Powerplus) and several other chasers. Harris was riding well but had fallen on the first lap, losing her chance to try to cover Van Paassen’s move.

The latter continued to press onwards, crashing on a steep, sandy downhill on lap three but having enough of an advantage to stave off the chase of Harris and Stultiens, who were chasing together. She increased her lead once again and was twelve seconds clear of Harris at the finish, and a further two seconds up on Stultiens.

Cant picked up fourth place, with Havlokova netting fifth.


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Superprestige Zonhoven Results:

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
bel BEL 1 Niels Albert (Bkcp-powerplus) s.t.
bel BEL 2 Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
bel BEL 3 Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb - Revor) s.t.
cze CZE 4 Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) s.t.
bel BEL 5 Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 6 Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb - Revor) s.t.
bel BEL 7 Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 8 Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) s.t.
cze CZE 9 Radomir Simunek (Bkcp-powerplus) s.t.
bel BEL 10 Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 11 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bkcp-powerplus) s.t.
ned NED 12 Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) s.t.
bel BEL 13 Vincent Baestaens (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
bel BEL 14 Joeri Adams (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 15 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Style & Concept) s.t.
ned NED 16 Thijs Van Amerongen (AA Cycling Team) s.t.
ger GER 17 Marcel Meisen (Eddy Merckx - Indeland ) s.t.
gbr GBR 18 Ian Field () s.t.
ned NED 19 Niels Wubben (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) s.t.
ned NED 20 Thijs Al (ZWC D.T.S. Zaandam) s.t.
bel BEL 21 Jan Denuwelaere (Style & Concept) s.t.
ned NED 22 Patrick Van Leeuwen (TWC De Kempen) s.t.
ned NED 23 Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (JvR De Batauwers) s.t.
pol POL 24 Mariusz Gil () s.t.
ned NED 25 Twan Van Den Brand (WV Schijndel) s.t.
bel BEL 26 Tom Van Den Bosch (AA Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 27 Jimmy Tielens () s.t.
fra FRA 28 Steve Chainel (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
usa USA 29 Jonathan Page () s.t.
bel BEL 30 Jim Aernouts (Sunweb - Revor) s.t.
bel BEL 31 Stijn Huys () s.t.
bel BEL 32 Dries Pauwels () s.t.
bel BEL 33 Gianni Denolf () s.t.
pol POL 34 Grzegorz Grabarek () s.t.
usa USA 35 David Andrew Quist () s.t.

Women's race:

Country Result Name Team Time
ned NED 1 Sanne Van Paassen (TWC Het Snelle Wiel) s.t.
gbr GBR 2 Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-fidea ) s.t.
ned NED 3 Sabrina Stultiens (RTC Buitenlust) s.t.
bel BEL 4 Sanne Cant () s.t.
cze CZE 5 Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet-fidea ) s.t.
ned NED 6 Linda Van Rijen (Skil - Koga) s.t.
ned NED 7 Reza Hormes Ravenstijn () s.t.
gbr GBR 8 Gabriella Day () s.t.
usa USA 9 Amy Dombroski () s.t.
bel BEL 10 Hilde Quintens () s.t.
bel BEL 11 Joyce Vanderbeken () s.t.
bel BEL 12 Ellen Van Loy () s.t.
ned NED 13 Arenda Grimberg (WV Het Stadion) s.t.
bel BEL 14 Nicolle De Bie Leyten (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) s.t.
ned NED 15 Annefleur Kalvenhaar (AWV De Zwaluwen) s.t.
bel BEL 16 Nancy Bober (Style & Concept) s.t.
cze CZE 17 Martina Mikulaskova () s.t.
den DEN 18 Nikoline Hansen () s.t.
ned NED 19 Ilona Meter () s.t.
ned NED 20 Evy Kuijpers (RTC Buitenlust) s.t.
ned NED 21 Iris Ockeloen (Moving Ladies) s.t.
bel BEL 22 Katrien Thijs () s.t.
den DEN 23 Margriet Kloppenburg (Dura Vermeer Cycling Team ) s.t.
ger GER 24 Lisa Schaub () s.t.

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