Niels Albert completes his comeback with third straight Superprestige Diegem
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Niels Albert completes his comeback with third straight Superprestige Diegem

by Ben Atkins at 4:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Sven Nys holds series lead; Marianne Vos in a class of her own once more

niels albertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) won the evening Superprestige race in Diegem, Belgium, taking his third straight victory in the floodlit race. The result means that the Belgian champion’s comeback from injury is now complete, after two successive second places on the preceding weekend.

Albert was in the company of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) for much of the race, until an attack in the sand on lap five saw him escape alone. Pauwels held on to take second place though, an improvement on his two fifths and two fourths of the previous four races, with Superprestige series leader Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) in third.

"I already felt this morning that I was in form", said Albert to the TV cameras after the race. "I feel that I have power again in my legs.

“I was also extra motivated because I could win here for a third year in a row,” he added, “which nobody has done for a long time [not since Roland Liboton’s eight straight wins in the 1980’s – ed]; that is special."

"I knew I had to go well in the sand, because with my wrist I couldn't jump the hurdles,” Albert explained. “I felt great in the sand; sometimes I felt like a child in a sandbox.”

Before the weekend races, Albert had been out of action for almost six weeks, having broken his wrist after being hit by a car in training. With most of the season-long competitions now out of reach, the Belgian champion’s main focus is to retake the rainbow jersey at Koksijde, Belgium, at the end of January.

"I have a good feeling right now,” he said. “Now it's just matter of holding my condition for another five weeks, and with the upcoming races I can even improve it.

“If that succeeds, it looks good for the [World] Championships."

Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was the fastest rider away from the start, but World champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) was the first rider to escape the pack, followed by Pauwels and Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant). Albert had suffered a poor start but, before too long, had recovered and soon returned to the front of the race.

It was Albert’s superiority in the sand that made the difference in the end, with a fifth lap acceleration leaving the rest behind and allowing him to ride to a solo victory.

Pauwels’ second place means that he moves up to second in the overall Superprestige standings; Nys’ third place though, means that the gap is only reduced by a single point. “Mr Superprestige” still has a five-point lead over Pauwels, with two races in the series remaining.

Marianne Vos makes it four wins in a week!

Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) completely outclassed the women’s field once again, to take her fourth victory in a week. The World champion rode away from the field as early as the first lap, as she rode up a steep slope when the rest were forced to dismount, and was the fastest through the sand section. Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Boxx) fought hard to hold onto Vos though, and managed to limit the damage to a few seconds as the crossed the line for the first time.

The gap was soon to widen though, as Frenchwoman Lucie Chainel-Lefevre joined Cant; to leave her behind in the closing stages.

By the finish Vos was 1’44” ahead of Chainel-Lefevre, with Cant finishing closely behind her, just a few seconds ahead of a tightly clustered group of riders; Gabby Day (The Chainstay) managed to hold off Telenet-Fidea pair Sophie de Boer and Nikki Harris in the race for fourth.

“Sanne almost managed to join me in the second lap,” said Vos at the finish, “but I managed to open the gap again; I could especially make the difference in the sandpit.

“My condition is clearly good,” added the World champion. “I still hope to improve before the World championships, but I certainly won’t be making any giant leaps.”

Result Superprestige Diegem Elite Men
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
3. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
4. Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team
5. Arnaud Duval (Fra) Club Champagne Charlott'
6. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick Step
9. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
10. Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco-Revor

Result Superprestige Diegem Elite Women
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit
2. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra)
3. Sanne Cant (Bel) Boxx Veldritacademie
4. Gabriella Day (GBr) The Chainstay
5. Sophie de Boer (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
6. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
7. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Brainwash Wielerploeg
8. Hilde Quintens (Bel) Van Goethem-Prorace
9. Maureen Bruno-Roy (USA)
10. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Cycling Team Vermeeren


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