Cyclocross World Cup: Sven Nys powers away from Niels Albert to win in rainy Koksijde
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cyclocross World Cup: Sven Nys powers away from Niels Albert to win in rainy Koksijde

by Ben Atkins at 10:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Slippery mud stops Niels Albert on the sand dune course; Katie Compton

sven nysSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) powered away from a struggling Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) to take his sixth victory in the Koksijde Duinencross - an outright record - as the slippery mud on the course’s flatter sections saw the World champion almost come down. A final lap slip from his big rival - who took his rainbow jersey on this venue ten months before - gave the Belgian champion his chance to come past and, on the next short sand dune, he powered away to victory.

Albert, who had done all he could on the flatter sections to keep sand-expert Nys behind him, had no answer to the Kannibaal’s acceleration and, with less than half a lap left, appeared resigned to second place. The World champion’s slowing allowed third place rider Francis Mourey (FDJ-BigMat) to get close, but Albert managed to hold the Frenchman off at the finish; Mourey took third however, to deny the Belgians all three steps on the World Cup podium.

The early pace had been set by Sunweb-Revor duo Klaas Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels, but both had crashed out of contention on the notoriously technical course; Pauwels’ crash was on the same corner that saw Albert almost come down, with Telenet-Fidea’s Bart Wellens and Tom Meeusen also sliding off on the same spot.

Heavy rain makes the sand tougher and the mud slippier

Constant rain on the sand dune course, which had been changed slightly since the World championships earlier in the year, meant that the soft sand was a little firmer, and even heavier, than usual. The few grassy and muddy sections of the course were also rendered softer than usual, with some corners proving decisively slippery.

Lars van der Haar sprinted away from the start, but it was Klaas Vantornout that took up his usual station at the front as the field took to the opening lap. Poor starts from both Nys and Albert put the two Belgian rivals back in the middle of the pack early on, but both began steadily working their way forward in the tough, sandy sections.

After a number of riders behind him struggled on a slippery corner on the back of the circuit, Vantornout pulled clear. Behind the tall Sunweb-Revor rider, a group of Radomir Simunek, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Pauwels, Bart Aernouts and Thijs van Amerongen (both AA Drink) and Steve Chainel (FDJ-BigMat) began to form and, as Vantornout ended the first lap, he was four seconds clear.

On the dunes of the first part of lap two, the group made its way up to Vantornout, while the second group began to close in behind them; before long, the field was strung out in one long line again.

Onto the long, flat, dune section of the second lap, Aernouts accelerated away, pulling Vantornout with him. Pauwels gave chase, pulling the same group of riders clear; the chase group was a few seconds behind the two leaders as they crossed the line, with the rest of the field another few seconds behind.

A puncture for Aernouts saw him gradually drift back however, and the Belgian couldn’t quite manage to hold on to the back of the group was he took a new bike from the pits.

Vantornout, Pauwels, Francis Mourey (FDJ-BigMat) and van Amerongen were now pulling clear again, with Meeusen leading Aernouts, Albert and van der Haar not far behind. Nys too, was making his way forward, approaching the rear of the group, as those chasing with him began to fall off the pace.

Mourey asserts himself over the Belgians but Nys is edging forward

Into the next lap it was Mourey’s turn to try to break clear, with Pauwels moving past Vantornout to try to go with him. Albert had made his way through the group, and was now chasing Pauwels. Nys, having got so close on the dunes of the previous lap, seemed to be having trouble closing the gap on the flatter mud sections; as they hit the sand again though, the Belgian champion made contact.

The group was splitting under the impetus of Mourey however, and Nys continued to find himself distanced. Meeusen slipped off on a fast, muddy corner - thankfully bringing nobody else down - and the 24-year-old, who had missed the previous two weeks’ racing through rib injury, was struggling as he got up.

As the race hit the dunes again, Albert took to the front, which put Nys out the back again; at the end of the lap - with four to go - the World champion led a group containing Aernouts, Mourey, Pauwels and Vantornout, with van Amerongen and Nys a few seconds behind him. As Albert continued to press the pace, Vantornout dropped back to the two chasers, leaving just the four-man group up front.

Pauwels came down on the corner that had seen Meeusen crash out on the previous lap however; the World Cup champion got up slowly, then spent a long time straightening his bars and replacing his chain, and his race looked over.

Albert continued his fast pace up front, and Sunweb-Revor’s bad luck continued as Vantornout crashed at the foot of a dune. The World champion was a few metres clear of his two companions over the line with three laps to go, with Nys gradually gaining behind them.

Nys shows his skills in the sand to make it up to the front of the race

Nys closed the gap further on the longest dune section, catching and passing Aernouts shortly afterwards; Albert was not waiting however, with Mourey on his tail, but the Belgian champion had the Frenchman in his sights at they hit the sand again.

Across the line with two laps to go, there were just six seconds between Albert in first place, and Nys in third. The World champion pushed on again on the early flat section of the lap though, where he appeared to be the strongest, and stopped the chasers from getting any closer.

Nys’ superior skill in the sand showed as they arrived at the long dune section however, as he caught and passed Mourey, and set about chasing down the World champion.

As the two rivals hit the second long, flat dune, they were just four seconds apart but, as they exited the other side, Nys was right on Albert’s wheel. The Belgian champion then settled in behind the World champion, over the final dunes of the lap, apparently waiting to make his final move.

Albert was in no mood to roll over for Nys however, and accelerated away on the flat, mud section; Nys was back on him halfway across the big dune, but the World champion had robbed him of one of his opportunities to attack. He tried the same trick again shortly afterwards, but Nys was sticking tight to him this time.

On the corner that had seen Meeusen and Pauwels come down though, Albert’s rear wheel skidded badly; the World champion managed to stay upright, but stopped almost dead on the course, and this was Nys’ chance to get past.

The Belgian champion shot away as the World champion dismounted at the foot of a small dune; seeing the race lost, Albert almost stopped as he arrived on the big dune again, which allowed Mourey to close him down.

Nys though, was long gone, and on his way to his ninth win of the season; having snapped his chain in Tabor, then crashed hard on his top tube in Plzeň, the Kannibaal sat up to raise his arms as he crossed the line, taking his 47th victory in World Cup races.

Albert managed to hold off Mourey for second, with Aernouts taking fourth, and Vantornout - having recovered from his minor spill - taking fifth.

Katie Compton extends World Cup lead with impressive solo effort

Katie Compton (Trek) led the women’s race from start to finish to take her second straight World Cup victory, and extend her lead in the overall standings. The US champion took the first corner in the middle of the pack, but soon made her way to the front, and was ten seconds clear of Great Britain’s Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea).

Despite coming off in the wet sand, Compton continued to extend her lead over the British rider, who in turn was holding her own against those behind her, and the US champion finished 1’27” clear. After taking her first ever World Cup podium in Plzeň, Czech Republic, the previous month, Harris held on to take another best result with second.

Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) suffered a disastrous crash on the descent of a dune in the very first lap - which also brought down Harris’ teammate Sophie de Boer, forcing the Dutchwoman to abandon - and dropped back to eighth. As a sand expert however, the 22-year-old managed to cut her way back through the field - overtaking French champion Lucie Chainel-Lefevre in the final lap - to take third place.

Result Elite Men
1. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
2. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
4. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
5. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
6. Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink
9. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
10. Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus

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

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