Sven Nys shows Niels Albert Who’s Mr Superprestige on the dunes of Zonhoven
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sven Nys shows Niels Albert Who’s Mr Superprestige on the dunes of Zonhoven

by Ben Atkins at 10:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results

sven nysSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) defiantly showed Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) who is Mr Superprestige as the Belgian champion won yet another race-long duel with the younger World champion. Despite Nys better skills on the sand-dune course, Albert managed to repeatedly close the gaps that he managed to open, and tried to assert himself over the older rider on the final technical corner of the race.

Nys managed to smother Albert’s final move however, and in the final, flat few hundred metres of the race managed to sprint clear of his rival to take his 57th race victory in the season-long series.

World under-23 champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant) briefly challenged the two Belgian frontrunners, but leg cramps saw the young Dutchman drop back to the chasing group. It was Bart Aerouts (AA that managed to escape in the final lap to take third place, ahead of a battered Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor), who had crashed spectacularly midway through the race.

Van der Haar was the first out of the blocks on the fast, dry early part of the opening lap, but Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) took up his usual early lead and pulled the Dutchman, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Albert a little way clear of the rest. Albert’s teammate Radomir Simunek pulled a small group up to the leaders however, with the whole field strung out not far behind them.

Into the second lap though, Vantornout accelerated away, with van der Haar in pursuit. Albert, Meeusen and Simunek made up the next group, with Pauwels soon joining them from behind. Nys was sprinting across the gap, with Peeters and Aernouts, while up front Albert and Meeusen were making contact with the two leaders.

Over the line at the end of lap two, Vantornout was a few seconds clear of Albert, van der Haar, Pauwels and Meeusen, with Nys, Aernouts and Peeters a few more seconds behind. The front group was soon all together, with the three chasers joining them at the top of one of the sandy run ups. Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Racing) and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) were also closing in on the rear wheels of the group, lifting its number to nine.

Albert was in no mood for company however, and accelerated away, with only Vantornout able to follow; the group behind them shattered into twos and threes as they rode into the fourth lap.

Albert accelerated again and got rid of Vantornout, just as the Sunweb-Revor rider was caught by the first chase group. Pauwels and Nys pushed past and set off in pursuit of Albert themselves; at the rear of the group Meeusen’s race effectively ended as he flew spectacularly over his bars at the bottom of a steep sandy descent.

Nys and Pauwels were eight seconds behind the World champion at the start of the next lap, with van der Haar, Peeters and Aernouts not far behind. Pauwels crashed on the same spot that Meeusen had done though, leaving Nys to chase Albert alone; gradually the Belgian champion was closing the gap, and putting further distance into those chasing behind.

Nys and Albert go mano a mano again with neither giving any quarter

The two rivals that had battled for the Koppenbergcross just three days before were together as they crossed the line, and were several seconds ahead of van der Haar and Peeters, who were looking to one another to lead the chase. Nys immediately took the front and began to try and put pressure on Albert in the course’s more technical sections, but the World champion stuck doggedly to his wheel.

Despite Albert having won his World title on the dunes of Koksijde, the superior sand skills of Nys were beginning to tell. On every technical area the Belgian champion opened up a little gap, which the World champion would be forced to close as the course flattened out again.

Behind them van der Haar - who’d also taken his under-23 title on the sand - had broken clear of the rest, and was trying to make his way across the gap.

Nys allowed Albert to lead around most of the following lap, which allowed van der Haar to get closer, and the young Dutchman made it across to the two Belgians shortly before they hit the line with three laps to go.

Taramarcaz, Aernouts and Pauwels made up the next group, which was now more than 20 seconds back.

Nys took control of the lead group again as it hit the dunes again and, almost managing to ride all the way up the first of the two sandy run ups, managed to ope n a little gap over the others. Albert and van der Haar managed to claw him back on the next, longer run up, but Nys kept the pressure on and managed to escape soon afterwards.

Albert gave chase, leaving van der Haar to be caught by Pauwels and Aernouts, but Nys was several seconds clear as he headed into the penultimate lap. The World champion caught up again on the dunes however, but the effort had clearly cost him a lot of energy.

As Albert struggled on a rutted sandy corner Nys got away again, but yet again Albert pulled him back. Nys let him lead across the line, to take the bell; Aernouts was just 13 seconds behind them though, with Pauwels, then van der Haar not far behind him.

The two leaders traversed the dune section together, with neither putting in an attack. Into the final sandy sections however, Nys accelerated again; Albert responded though - knowing that this was where Nys was about to make his race-winning move - with the two of them taking the rutted corner that Albert had previously struggled on shoulder to shoulder.

This caused both riders to have to dismount; the stalemate continued, and they looked to be heading for a sprint.

As the approached the finish however, Nys gritted his teeth and tore himself clear of Albert; he hit the concrete finishing straight a few lengths clear, and sat up to celebrate his victory.

Sanne Cant takes women’s race over a depleted field

Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) made it a perfect day for the Belgian champions as she took her second victory of the season in the women’s race, as many of the big names chose to sit out the event following the previous day’s European championships in Ipswich, England; while the early start caused many others chose not to race.

The Belgian champion, who had finished fifth the day before, beat German champion Hanka Kupfernagel (RusVelo) into second place, with 19-year-old Dutchwoman Sabrina Stultiëns (Rabobank Giant) taking third in her first race of the season.

Kupfernagel attacked from the start, but Cant steadily managed to pull her back; the two of them rode together for most of the race, until Cant finally managed to drop the German halfway around the final lap of the sandy course - the Belgian’s favourite surface - and rode on alone to victory.

Result Elite Men
1. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
2. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA
4. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
5. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
6. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Racing
7. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
8. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
9. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
10. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus

Result Elite women
1. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
2. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) RusVelo
3. Sabrina Stultiëns (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
4. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Cycling Team Vermeeren
5. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Kriekel Cycling Team Tessenderlo
6. Annefleur Kalvenhaar (Ned)
7. Arenda Grimberg (Ned)
8. Amy Dombroski (USA) Telenet-Fidea
9. Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team
10. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team


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