Niels Albert: “I am not Sven Nys”
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Niels Albert: “I am not Sven Nys”

by Ben Atkins at 11:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
World champion wants victory on the Koppenberg but not aiming at overall classifications yet

niels albertWorld champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) has won most of the big races in cyclocross, but has yet to add his name to the roll of honour of the Koppenbergcross. This is not altogether surprising, since the event that’s based on the iconic Flanders climb has been dominated by Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) for the last ten years; Albert was second to the Kannibaal in 2009 and 2010, but he could only manage seventh last year behind Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor).

"I won in Oudenaarde in the juniors and the beloften [under-23 - ed], but I haven't managed it yet as a pro," said Albert in Het Nieuwsblad. "That feels like a loss.

"I'd like to win at such a classic at least once in my career."

Albert took a dominant solo victory in last weekend’s World Cup race in Plzeň, Czech Republic, and after the race proclaimed his satisfaction with the muddy conditions. At the time he expressed a hope that the bad weather would move north to Belgium, to make the upcoming races as tough as possible, and he appears to have got his wish.

Heavy rain over Flanders in recent days has made, what is generally a muddy course at the best of times, very wet indeed.

"But I’ll ride my own ‘cross," said Albert. "It will be every man for himself on the heavy track. It has rained a lot so we’ll be slogging through the mud. We will probably even have to walk up the Koppenberg because it’s too slippery to ride, especially now that in this edition we have to climb the steepest part. But I do not mind. The more walking the better. I have plenty of running sessions behind me, so let it come."

As well as being a highly prestigious race to win in its own right, the Koppenbergcross is the second round of the bpost bank trofee [formerly the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee - ed]. Albert won the first round of the series, at the GP Mario de Clercq, in Ronse on October 14th but, with the series being decided on accumulated time instead of points, Pauwels leads overall by a single second thanks to time bonuses at the intermediate GvA tussensprint.

Albert’s victory in Plzeň puts him in the overall lead of the World Cup [the only overall classification he has ever won, in 2010-11 - ed] while his second place to Nys in Ruddervoorde means that he is second in the Superprestige, as well as the bpost bank trofee. At such an early stage of the season however, the World champion is not yet concentrating on either of the season-long competitions.

"I am obliged by my status [as World champion] and to my team to take a classification this season,” he admitted. “I am leader in BKCP-Powerplus and will hopefully succeed this year. But I am not Sven Nys hey, I don’t focus so much as he does on the classifications.

"I’ll first try just to win as many races as possible and am not really concerned with a particular classification, even though I’m in the top three of all of them at the moment,” Albert explained. “The World championships will always be the most important race of the year for me and I do not want to be exhausted at the start.

“Besides, Kevin Pauwels is 28, two years older than me,” he added, “and he’s only won two classifications.”


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