Superprestige Diegem: Niels Albert solos to fourth straight victory in the floodlit race
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Superprestige Diegem: Niels Albert solos to fourth straight victory in the floodlit race

by Ben Atkins at 12:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
A bad day for Sven Nys sees his Superprestige lead cut; Katerina Nash beats Sanne Cant

niels albertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) took his fourth straight victory in the Superprestige Diegem, the annual, unique, floodlit race, in the north eastern suburb of the Belgian capital, Brussels. The World champion bridged across to a move from Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) midway through the race, then managed to escape alone; once in the lead, Albert steadily built up his lead over a large group of chasers, to finish more than half a minute clear.

Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) managed to escape the chase group in the second half of the final lap and, as Pauwels managed to get ahead of the Czech champion before the steps up to the final corner, the Belgian remounted first and went on to take second place.

The race proved to be another to forget for Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), who had abandoned the Loenhout Azencross two days before in his frustration with a beer-throwing fan. “Mr Superprestige” started badly - although rather better than Albert - and found himself chasing for the entire race; he finally made contact with the chase group on the final lap, but was unable to respond when Štybar and Pauwels pulled away at the finish.

Nys eventually finished seventh, with his overall lead over Albert in the series cut to just five points, and he still awaits his 60th Superprestige victory.

Lars van der Haar is fast away as usual; Albert and Nys are not

Despite the mixed surfaces of the course, which included several tarmac sections around the streets of Diegem, the race was to be as muddy as most recent events, forcing bike changes almost every lap. The muddiest part of the course, however, was where it passed the pits, with the pressure washers of the mechanics having created a large, ankle deep puddle.

Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Giant) made his usual fast start, and managed to get a little way clear of the rest as he left the tarmac for the first time. Pauwels led the field across to the young Dutchman, however, as he passed through the pits, and the Sunweb-Revor rider took the lead; Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) managed to push his way forward, and he and Vantornout pulled out a little gap over the rest.

Having been slow away from the start, Nys was several riders back in the long, strung out field, with Albert even further back.

Vantornout was the fastest through the sand, and managed to leave Peeters behind; van der Haar was joining the two leaders from behind, with Štybar powering his way through. As they climbed the steps onto the finishing straight, Vantornout, Peeters, Štybar, van der Haar and Pauwels were a few seconds clear, along with Bart Aernouts (AA Drink).

Vantornout burst clear again, briefly dropping Pauwels and van der Haar, but the group of six was together again as they hit the second half of the lap. Just a few seconds behind though, were Jim Aerbouts (Sunweb-Revor) and Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus), and the two of them had joined the group before the end of the lap.

Albert too managed to latch on to the rear of the expanding group at the beginning of lap three; Štybar and Simunek were both at the front now, however, and the two Czech riders’ pace began to split the pack. Vantornout came through again, as the group was beginning to reform, and strung things out further; he again managed to open a small gap, with Štybar leading the chase.

Vantornout makes his move, but Albert successfully counters

Across the line again, Vantornout was a little way clear of Štybar, van der Haar and Pauwels, with the others scattered behind them, and he opened up his lead in the early part of lap four. Nys was now in the company of teammate Sven Vanthourenhout, and was now 26 seconds behind; the two Landbouwkrediet-Euphony riders were now bearing down on the rear of the strung out group, however.

Vantornout’s lead was growing but, having been happy to let Štybar lead the chase, Albert suddenly moved forward and pulled away from the others. The World champion powered through the sandpit and quickly caught up with the lone leader, taking the lead, as Pauwels gave chase behind them.

By the end of the lap, the new leading duo was seven seconds clear of Pauwels and van der Haar, with Štybar and the rest scattered behind them. Nys had passed Jim Aernouts, and left Vanthourenhout behind, but his deficit had risen slightly to 28 seconds.

Albert soon dropped Vantornout and continued alone, quickly opening up a wide gap; Vantrnout managed to hold off the rest of the group for some time, but was caught by Štybar, Pauwels and van der Haar on the sandpit. The rest of the chase group was not far behind, and Nys was edging ever closer to its rear.

Albert’s lead with three laps to go was up to 22 seconds over the chase group of four, which was being joined from behind; Nys deficit was now 35 seconds, but he spent much of the next lap closing the gap to the chasers. The Belgian champion passed Bart Aernouts as they shouldered their bikes on a muddy switchback, and was now just a few seconds behind the others.

Nys closes the gap, but then can’t take the pace

Pauwels and van der Haar broke away after the steps, and were a little way clear of the rest as they crossed the line with two laps to go. Albert’s lead was now up to 27 seconds, however, and - as they rain began to fall more heavily - he was showing no signs of slowing down.

Štybar pulled the group up to the two breakaway riders, but van der Haar escaped again, alone this time. The Dutchman managed to get a few seconds clear of Štybar, Pauwels, Vantornout, Peeters and Simunek, but he was caught before the end of the lap.

At the bell Albert’s lead was up to 36 seconds over this first chase group, with Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) just behind; Nys was now right behind these two, and about to make contact.

In the course of the first half of the lap, the three chasers made contact with the main group, but an fierce acceleration from Štybar almost immediately put Nys into trouble again. The Czech champion pulled away with Pauwels on his wheel and, with Nys struggling to remount after a sharp corner, the Belgian champion was well and truly dropped.

Still forcing the pace, Štybar and Pauwels moved further clear of the rest, with Vantornout chasing hard behind them. Albert was too far ahead for them to be able to challenge, barring disaster for the World champion, however, and was now approaching the finish.

Sitting up, the World champion had plenty of time to wave both arms in the air was he took his fourth straight victory in the unique night event. Pauwels had managed to get past Štybar in the approach to the steps and, able to remount first, sprinted away from the Czech to take second.

Štybar coasted over the line to complete the podium, ahead of Vantornout, who was barely clear of Simunek, Peeters, and Nys.

Katerina Nash takes first European victory of the season over Sanne Cant

Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) took her first victory in Europe of the 2012/13 season in the women’s race, which was held much earlier than the men’s event. The former Czech champion escaped Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) - who had won the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Loenhout two days before - in the final lap of the race, to finish seven seconds clear.

Nash and Cant were part of a four-rider group that pulled clear of the rest of the field in the opening lap of the race, along with French champion Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (BH-SR Suntour) and Sabrina Stultiëns (Rabobank Giant). As the race went on, Chainel-Lefevre and Stultiëns were left behind by Nash and Cant, then Nash managed to finally drop Cant in the finishing straight.

Chainel-Lefevre outsprinted Stultiëns for the final spot on the podium.

Result Elite Men
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
3. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
5. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
6. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
8. Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
9. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
10. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Result Elite Women
1. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Chix
2. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
3. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra) BH-SR Suntour-Peisey Vallandry
4. Sabrina Stultiëns (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
5. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Melbotech Cycling Team
6. Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus
7. Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized
8. Annie Last (GBr) Milka Brentjens Racing Team
9. Amy Dombroski (USA) Telenet-Fidea
10. Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Cycling Team Vermeeren


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