Cyclocross World Cup: Niels Albert solos to victory on a sticky Plzeň course
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cyclocross World Cup: Niels Albert solos to victory on a sticky Plzeň course

by Ben Atkins at 11:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Disqualified Rob Peeters finishes third; Katie Compton overcomes bad start to take women’s victory

niels albertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) took a hard fought solo victory in the second round of the cyclocross World Cup, in Plzeň, Czech Republic, after breaking clear on the second of eight laps of the sticky course. The World champion had been in the company of Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), but Nys crashed on a short, steep, muddy descent, and Albert continued alone to take his first World Cup victory since Hoogerheide, Netherlands, in January 2011.

"I think we've never seen such a race in Plzeň,” said Albert, according to sport.be. “In 2009 I won here just like today in the rainbow jersey, so I'm very happy.

“The corners were very dangerous because you could crash anywhere,” explained the World champion. “You had to really be careful today and you couldn’t ride fast. It was all about technique and a lot of hard work.

“I love this weather, with the mud and the wet,” he added. “Everybody has his own favourite course and I like riding here. I hope that there will be weather like this at the next races in Belgium, then we can also see some beautiful rides in the next races."

Albert was pursued for much of the race by Sunweb-Revor duo Klaas Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels; Vantornout managed to finally leave his teammate - and World Cup leader - behind in the final lap, and went on to take second place.

There was controversy behind however, as Pauwels was caught and passed by Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) in the closing metres of the race, but Peeters had been disqualified mid-race for passing through the pit area without changing his bike.

"I stepped off at the place where I thought my mechanics were, but I saw no one and carried on,” Peeters protested at the finish. “So that is a stop & go, something which is allowed, and so am I doing nothing against the rules; otherwise, why would I continue racing?”

Pauwels was therefore awarded the third place, with Peeters’ Telenet-Fidea teammates Tom Meeusen and Bart Wellens taking fourth and fifth, with Nys taking a painful sixth.

"It really hurts," said the Belgian champion afterwards, according to sport.be. "I think I've pretty much dented my private parts. I was on the wrong track, with one foot out of the pedal and I lost my balance. I came down right on my top tube. I have cramps in my belly, everything hurts..."

The sticky course, which was still displaying some evidence of the previous day’s snow at the edges, forced bike changes on virtually every lap. It also made many of the low lying areas too muddy to ride, with most of the field having to shoulder their bikes several times each lap.

Meeusen forces a fast start but Albert and Nys pull away from the field

Meeusen hit the front at the start, as a crash in midfield saw Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and US champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) among the fallers. As soon as the race hit the mud it was Pauwels that began to force the pace however, and steadily a lead group began to form, made up of Pauwels and Vantornout, Albert, Nys and Meeusen.

Peeters and Bart Aernouts (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) were just behind, with Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) chasing a few seconds behind them.

Albert then forced his way to the front and slowly tried to pull away; Nys was on the World champion’s tail however, but the rest of the group was splintering behind them.

Slowly, but surely, the two Belgian rivals began to edge further away from the rest, as Meeusen led Pauwels and Vantornout in pursuit. The pair was 11 seconds clear at the end of the second lap, as Albert continually tried to shake Nys.

Nys came down at the bottom of a short drop off, allowing Albert to escape; the Belgian champion was up quickly, but his bars had been knocked out of alignment, and by the time he had straightened them he had been passed by Meeusen, Pauwels and Vantornout, and caught by Aernouts.

For the second straight World Cup race, Nys was faced with a long chase back up to the leaders.

Pauwels meanwhile, had broken clear of the other two chasers and was doing his best to close the gap to Albert up ahead. By the end of the lap the World Cup leader was just nine seconds behind the World champion and slowly gaining. Meeusen and Vantornout were now 22 seconds behind, with Nys leading Aernouts and Peeters at 42.

Meeusen began to struggle a little on the sticky surface, allowing Vantornout to pull away; the tall Sunweb-Revor rider began to claw his way up to teammate Pauwles, as Nys began to close on Meeusen behind him.

By the end of the fourth lap - with four to go - Albert was 18 seconds ahead of Pauwels and Vantornout: Meeusen was 31 seconds back, with Nys at 47. The crash and chase appeared to have taken a lot out of the Belgian champion, and he was now just eight seconds ahead of Aernouts.

Pauwels begins to struggle as Peeters is disqualified

Pauwels too was beginning to look tired, and Vantornout left him behind midway through the lap. He’d cut Albert’s lead to 11 seconds by the time he crossed the line, with Pauwels still 19 seconds back; Meeusen was still in fourth place, with Peeters in fifth, with Nys still chasing behind them, now with old rival Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) for company.

Peeters however, was not being recorded at the finish line, having already been disqualified.

Pauwels managed to catch up to Vantornout midway around the lap, while Nys managed to get rid of Wellens and was bearing down on Peeters and Meeusen once more. Albert was still looking smooth up front however, with no sign of being caught by any of the chasers, and his lead was back up to 19 seconds over the two Sunweb-Revor riders with two laps to go.

The disqualified Peeters was still racing, and a spill for Meeusen saw his teammate champion close on him a little more. The podium positions appeared to be settled however, as Albert was approaching the bell, comfortably ahead of Vantornout, with a tired looking Pauwels right behind him.

A stumble on the steps for Pauwels saw Vantornout pull away from him once and for all; he was 15 seconds behind Albert as he started the final lap, with Pauwels at 23. Peeters caught Meeusen shortly before the line, while Nys and Wellens were back together, more than a minute behind the World champion.

Looking over his shoulder a little on the many run up sections, Albert nevertheless managed to complete the final lap without incident and, wiping a little mud from the front of his skinsuit - although he didn’t do up the zip - crossed the line with both arms in the air. Vantornout followed in second, but Peeters had surged in the final lap to cross the line third; not realising that he had been disqualified.

Pauwels was just behind him to take the actual third place, not far ahead of Meeusen in fourth. Wellens had managed to escape Nys, and crossed the line in fifth place, with the Belgian champion sixth.

Poor start can’t stop Katie Compton in the women’s race

Katie Compton (Trek) took her first European victory of the season, and take the World Cup lead, after recovering from a bad start in the women’s event. The US champion spent the first half of the race scything through the rest of the field before accelerating away from the elite leading group in the final lap. British champion Helen Wyman (Kona) was just unable to hold on to Compton’s acceleration, but took a best ever World Cup finish in second, while Wyman’s compatriot Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) made her first ever World Cup podium in third.

Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (BH-SR Suntour) made the early running, but the French champion was quickly closed down by Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank), Wyman, Harris, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) and Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus). Harris pushed on into the second lap, pulling van Paassen and Wyman clear, but Hanka Kupfernagel (RusVelo) fought her way across to the leaders with Cant before they could reach the line.

Van Paassen, Wyman and Harris began to pull clear again but Compton made it a group of four as they passed through the pits midway around the course.

Wyman came out first and began to pull away, with Harris in pursuit, but the other two were not far behind. The group came together once more as the leaders hit the steps, and Compton began to push ahead; Wyman was able to stay close to the US champion, but van Paassen and Harris were steadily distanced as Compton took the bell.

The final lap saw Compton gradually open up her lead over Wyman, while Harris managed to pass and drop van Paassen. Kupfernagel too managed to catch the World Cup leader, which saw the Dutchwoman accelerate and close in on Harris.

Compton stumbled on the last muddy section of the lap, but was far enough clear of Wyman to get up and take her first European victory of the season. Wyman finished 15 seconds later, while Harris managed to hold off van Paassen and Kupfernagel to take third after 29 seconds.

Result elite men
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
2. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
4. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
5. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
7. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
8. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
9. Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
10. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Racing Team

Result elite women
1. Katie Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective
2. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
3. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
4. Sanne van Paassen (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
5. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) RusVelo
6. Jasmin Achermann (Swi) Rapha-Focus
7. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
8. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra) BH-SR Suntour
9. Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus
10. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Telenet-Fidea

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