Sven Nys wins a hard fought GP Hasselt over Niels Albert
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sven Nys wins a hard fought GP Hasselt over Niels Albert

by Ben Atkins at 10:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Kevin Pauwels’ unlucky season continues as he crashes out of contention on the hurdles

sven nysSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) was the most determined rider once again as he took his third victory in the GP Hasselt, the third round of the bpost bank trofee. The Belgian champion accelerated clear of World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) on the penultimate lap of a fast, dry race, and stayed clear to win by 14 seconds.

The race was far from another chapter of a battle between the two big rivals however, as Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) showed that he was at least as strong as the two champions. Pauwels’ unlucky season continued however, crashing on the second of the course’s two hurdles as he and Nys touched elbows as they bunny-hopped side by side.

Pauwels was able to remount and gave chase, but was unable to catch up; he finished in third place, 30 seconds behind Nys.

Time bonuses on the line - as well as those at the intermediate Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) tussensprint - mean that Nys cut Albert’s overall lead in the trofee classification to just 20 seconds.

More dry weather in Belgium had produced another fast course, with riders only required to dismount on the various manmade obstacles; among these were the set of hurdles, brought in at the last minute to replace the tree trunks that had been stolen during the week.

The firm surface meant that very few riders had cause to change their bikes at all for the entire race.

Nys is the fastest starter as he chases the bonus seconds

Nys was the fastest away, and took the first sharp corner first, as a crash behind him brought down half a dozen riders, but it was Klaas Vantornout that took up his familiar position on the front as the bunch hit the sandpit for the first time. The tall, lanky rider quickly managed to pull open a small gap, but Rob Peeters was leading the rest not far behind him.

Vantornout continued to set a fast pace around the course, with a group containing all of the big names strung out in a line behind him. Peeters was keen to have his say however, and tried to muscle his way past as they ended the first lap.

Peeters and Nys both bunny-hopped the hurdles, and pulled a little way clear of the rest, and Nys accelerated past his former teammate to win the GvA tussensprint and take the 15-second time bonus. Albert was back in fifth place, missing out on the bonuses, which meant that Nys had closed the gap on him in the overall trofee standings.

Vantornout retook the lead into the third lap, with Albert also moving ahead of Nys but - with few opportunities to put the others in difficulty - the bunch was still stretched out in one long line. Over the hurdles Albert moved to the front however, and - after throwing his glasses to his mechanics as he passed the pits - began to lift the pace.

Peeters glued himself to the World champion’s wheel, with Nys leading Pauwels behind them; Vantornout was at the head of the main group behind them, but gaps were now starting to open.

Across the line with five laps to go, Albert led Peeters, Nys, Pauwels, Vantornout, and his own BKCP-Powerplus teammates Dieter Vantourenhout and Radomir Simunek, with Bart Aernouts leading a small group a few seconds behind. The two groups soon came together however, so Peeters came ahead to try to break things up again.

Albert moved ahead again, and pulled a little way clear as Vantornout delayed a number of riders with a stumble as everyone dismounted on a sharp corner. Nys was quickly across to him, with Pauwels soon joining, and the current three biggest names of the sport were clear.

On the second sandpit of the lap, Albert accelerates again as Nys uncharacteristically struggled, and he and Pauwels left the Belgian champion behind. As they cross the line, the two of them were four seconds clear of Nys, who had Simunek right on his tail.

Pauwels is looking strong until disaster strikes

The first sandpit of the lap saw Nys close the gap a little, as Simunek dropped back to the chase group, and - despite the best efforts of Albert - slowly edged his way back up to the leading duo. Nys was fastest again across the sandpit that had seen him struggle on the previous lap but, as Pauwels led Albert across the line with three laps to go, he was still two seconds behind them.

These two seconds evaporated on the first sandpit however, and the front group was back up to three again.

It was now Pauwels’ turn to try to get away from the other two and, with Nys content to sit on Albert’s wheel, he opened up a small gap. Nys then jumped across this gap, briefly distancing Albert, but the World champion quickly closed them down.

As Nys and Pauwels bunny-hopped the hurdles side-by-side though, their elbows touched and Pauwels came down. Nys signalled his apology to the Sunweb-Revor rider, but neither he, nor Albert, were waiting. Under the GvA sprint barrier Pauwels was eight seconds behind, as Nys tried to leave Albert behind again.

Across the line with two to go, Nys had managed to open a two-second lead over Albert, with the gap to Pauwels now up to 11. The sandpit saw Albert close this a little, but Nys was determined to hold him off, and kept the pressure on. The Belgian champion accelerated again after the hurdles, and the gap to Albert grew again; Pauwels was doing his best to chase them down, and seemed to be getting closer to Albert as they snaked around the midfield switchbacks and tackled the second sandpit.

At the bell Nys was eight seconds clear of Albert, with Pauwels now at fifteen; as Nys put in his usual final lap surge, these gaps started to open further still.

A near-perfect lap for Nys - including further accelerations across the sand - saw him cruise towards the finish as Albert began to look tired behind him. With every second counting, the Kannibaal kept his sprint going all the way to the finish; only sitting up to raise both arms in the air as he hit the line.

Albert sprinted over the line 14 seconds later, preserving as much of his classification lead as possible, with Pauwels - whose own trofee ambitions having effectively ended at the previous Koppenbergcross round - rolling over 30 seconds behind.

Result GP Hasselt
1. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
2. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
5. Dieter Vantourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
6. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
8. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
9. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
10. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor

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