Riders react to Sunday’s muddy World Cup battle in Namur
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Riders react to Sunday’s muddy World Cup battle in Namur

by Kyle Moore at 10:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 
Albert, Sunweb-Revor, Telenet-Fidea speak after big showdown

Neils AlbertSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) pulled away from Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and the rest of the field on the final lap of Sunday’s World Cup race in Namur, but most of the elite men’s race was a six or seven man bout of very exciting racing.

Albert (pictured) made his return to racing in a big way, coming off of a broken wrist suffered in a training crash. He took second in both weekend races, starting with the GP Rouwmoer on Saturday, which was claimed by Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea). He was happy to have recovered enough to put the other favourites on the ropes in Namur, as he moved away on the final lap in a bid for victory.

Nys was able to outlast the Belgian national champion, but Albert was pleased with his weekend.

“I had not really expected to be on the podium twice,” Albert remarked on Sunday, according to Het Laaste Nieuws. “I would have [been happy with] two placings in the top ten. These results, and especially the way they were achieved, are impressive. It is proof that I really worked during my period of inactivity.”

The Telenet-Fidea duo of Wellens and Rob Peeters, Albert’s two podium-mates on Saturday, struggled from their efforts the day before in Essen. But Albert seemed to defy the odds by putting the favourites under pressure on the final lap in Namur. But after being caught by Nys on a descent, the race became a bit too long for Albert, and the Belgian couldn’t get his legs to turn for a sprint.

“In the descent before the finish I was not quick enough and Sven got to my back wheel,” he added. “I tried to accelerate [in the finale], but I couldn’t sprint.”

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) took his best result of the season, rounding out the podium in third. Vantornout often leads early, working for team-mate Kevin Pauwels, but with Pauwels struggling with bad luck on Sunday, Vantornout was able to excel.

“For a moment I even believed in victory,” he said. “I pulled through when Nys had misfortune [the eventual winner had two flats – ed.] but the finish was still too far away.”

“I certainly was not the best today,” added Pauwels. “The course suited me better than some, but the mud was still too heavy for me. The weekend was not great, but it was reasonable.” Pauwels took fourth in both weekend races, but his spot off the podium on Sunday cost him the World Cup lead. Nys now owns that, with a five-point cushion over Pauwels.

After Wellens’ triumph in the GvA race on Saturday, Telenet-Fidea suffered a bit of a letdown in Namur. Tom Meeusen finished best placed in sixth. Wellens was 18th and Peeters finished 32nd, nearly five minutes behind Nys.

“I had hoped to go into the final climb in second or third,” Meeusen stated on the team’s website. “It was the only way to get a place on the podium, but the plan failed.” But with a fifth in Essen to go with his sixth in the World Cup race, the young Belgian is pleased with where he is.

“I’m proud. This was indeed a very tough weekend but I survived in good shape. In fact, I improved on my two classifications – in the GvA trophy I am now third and I’m fifth in the World Cup,” he concluded.

After taking a podium position with third place in the GvA Essen, Peeters was well off the pace in Namur. After two quick laps, he dropped away from contention, a result he attributed to his efforts the day before.

“I could not have been better. I wanted to, and I flew in from the start, but I was not fit enough to keep going. I had clearly not recovered from the competition in Essen,” he admitted.

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