Bpost Bank Trofee: Jan Denuwelaere slides to victory in a muddy and controversial Essen race
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bpost Bank Trofee: Jan Denuwelaere slides to victory in a muddy and controversial Essen race

by Ben Atkins at 10:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Style & Concept rider brought down by DQ’d Zdeněk Stybar on the line; Sanne Cant takes another victory

Jan DenuwelaereZdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) marked his debut in competitive cyclocross in the 2012/13 season with a controversial sprint in the GP Rouwmoer, Essen, north of Antwerp. The Czech champion came together with Jan Denuwelaere (Style & Concept) as they sprinted for the line at the end of the rain-soaked, muddy race, and Denuwelaere came down just before the line. He and his bike slipped across the line, to cross in second place, ahead of a two-man battle between Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) and World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

Adjudged to having caused the crash, Štybar was relegated to fourth place, with 24-year-old Denuwelaere awarded the biggest victory of his career in bizarre circumstances.

Pouring rain in Belgium produced what was to be the first true moddercross of the season so far; the rain continued to fall through much of the race, turning the usual muddy Essen course into something of a quagmire.

The liquid nature of much of the worst sections of mud, however, meant that most riders were forced to make very few bike changes.

Sven Nys takes the initiative and steals the bonus sprint

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) made one of his best starts of the season so far, and led the pack out into the fields; immediately shouldering his bike to run over the small sandy hill in the first part of the course. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) was tucked in behind the Belgian champion, with Vantornout, Albert and Czech champion Zdeněk Štybar, making his season debut in competitive cyclocross.

Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) managed to get past Nys in the open fields and tried to break clear; Nys pulled him back, however, briefly dragging Štybar, Albert and Pauwels away from the rest. Pauwels’ teammate Klaas Vantornout managed to join the group on the worst of the muddy section, and Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) crossed the gap as they ran over the bridge; Nys was pushing on though, with only Albert and Štybar able to stay close.

The group of six was together as they ended the first lap, with Albert moving ahead of Nys, intending to beat the Belgian champion to the time bonus at the intermediate sprint. Nys managed to stay on his bike up a short, sharp rise, however, where Albert was forced to run up, and Nys powered away as the sprint approached.

Nys crossed the line first, taking the 15 second bonus, and with Albert taking ten seconds for second, the 20-second gap between the two rivals in the overall Bpost Bank Trofee was cut to 15.

Aernouts had slipped back to the chase group, but Štybar, Pauwels and Vantornout were still up with Nys and Albert. World champion Albert took control again, through the wooded section, and the gap to the Aernouts group began to widen. At the end of lap two, the five-man group was 11 seconds clear of Aernouts, Peeters Denuwelaere, with the rest of the field now out of it.

Štybar then took over the head of the race in lap three, but Peeters and Denuwelaere managed to fight their way across the gap. Vantornout then accelerated away, almost losing control on the slippery mud, and forced a few seconds clear.

Denuwelaere asserts himself in the mud and Štybar looks like the strongest challenger

Štybar was leading the chase and, as Vantornout’s bike got stuck in the mud at the top of a small rise in the woods, the Czech champion led Denuwelaere past him. Pauwels too was having bike problems and, as Denuwelaere tried to escape at the end of the lap, he had to stop and replace his chain and lost sight of the leaders.

Clearly enjoying the conditions, the Style & Concept rider managed to get a few seconds clear, before a surge from Albert dragged the group up to him. Vantornout and Peeters were the last across the gap though, and were beginning to tire.

Denuwelaere escaped again on one of the worst mud sections, as Albert and Vantornout both struggled at the back of the chase group. Appearing to slow on the tarmac that followed, however, Denuwelaere allowed Nys to pull the chasers closer; the Belgian champion’s pace was putting many in the group in trouble, but they were all together - just two seconds behind Denuwelaere - as they crossed the line with three laps to go.

Nys led Štybar up to the rear wheel of Denuwelaere, with the rest of the group joining the rear of the line one by one. After Nys, Albert and Štybar had all changed their bikes in the pits, however, Denuwelaere burst away again; Vantornout was across to him quickly, but the others weren’t far behind.

Meanwhile, just a few seconds behind the group, Pauwels had passed Aernouts and was gradually gaining. As he made contact with the leaders, shortly before the end of the lap, his teammate Vantornout broke away again, Nys, Peeters and Denuwelaere quickly joined him, with Štybar and Albert making it across soon afterwards, and - having done so much to get back up to the front of the race - Pauwels was dropped again.

With the end of the race now in sight, Nys took the lead once more, and tried to get rid of Albert; it was Peeters that managed to escape, however, with Štybar and Denuwelaere the strongest chasers. A problem in the woods for Peeters saw the Czech champion power past, but Nys too had looked less than sure of himself on one of the muddy bumps, and had let the gap open.

Nys loses his chain as Albert breaks away but Denuwelaere and Štybar will decide the race

At the bell Štybar and Denuwelaere were three seconds ahead of Peeters, with Albert and Nys another three seconds back; Vantornout now appeared to be out of it, and Pauwels was no longer in sight.

Albert and Nys closed the gap to the three leaders again but, as they rounded a tight bend, Nys' chain came off and he had to stop to replace it. Albert quickly moved up to second place, behind Štybar, and allowed the Czech champion to pull him clear of the now-tiring Belgian champion. On a tight, midfield corner though, Albert pushed himself to the front and, as Štybar stumbled a little, started to pull a little way clear.

Denuwelaere sped by on the worst of the mud sections, but then stumbled at the top of the steps on the bridge that followed. This saw Albert take the front again, opening a wider gap this time, and Peeters was struggling to close it.

The World champion almost lost it in a puddle in the woods, allowing the other three to catch up, and Štybar once again took the lead. Sprinting away from the trees, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider couldn’t shake Denuwelaere, however, and the 24-year-old began to open up his sprint.

As Denuwelaere began to pass Štybar next to the barriers, however, Štybar appeared to lean over and they came together; the Style & Concept rider slid down the advertising boards and hit the ground. His bike slid over the line behind Štybar’s, just crossing it ahead of the battle between Peeters and Albert.

Nys finished several seconds later in fifth, so Albert extended his slender lead over the Belgian champion in the overall battle to 47 seconds.

Sanne Cant continues her winning ways in women’s race

Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) proved that there was more to her victory in the previous weekend’s race in Leuven than the fact that so many of the sport’s big names were missing, as she won the women’s race ahead of the British trio of European champion Helen Wyman (Kona), Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus).

Katerina Nash (Luna) made the early running, with Cant in tow, but, as the Czech champion began to struggle on one of the flat, slippery sections, the Belgian champion rode away fro her. Nash was clearly suffering from a problem with her bike and, as she was forced to run a long way to the pits, was passed by Wyman, Harris, Day, and Ellen van Loy (Melbotech).

22-year-old Cant continued alone the the finish, to cross the line well clear of a lone Wyman, with Harris not far behind in third.

Result Elite Men
1. Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team
2. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
3. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
6. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
7. Thijs van Amerongen (Bel) AA Drink
8. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
9. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
10. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Result Elite Women
1. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
2. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
3. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
4. Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus
5. Ellen van Loy (Bel) Melbotech Cycling Team
6. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Chix
7. Githa Michiels (Bel)
8. Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team
9. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
10. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Cycling Team Vermeeren


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