Cyclocross World Cup: Martin Bina escapes in the Hoogerheide snow to take solo victory
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cyclocross World Cup: Martin Bina escapes in the Hoogerheide snow to take solo victory

by Ben Atkins at 10:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Maiden World Cup for Czech rider; no Belgians on the podium; Niels Albert secures overall

martin binaMartin Bina (CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor) shocked the big names of cyclocross as he escaped a group of favourites to take the GP Adrie van der Poel, in Hoogerheide, in the south of the Netherlands, the final round of the World Cup. The 29-year-old Czech rider revelled in the wintry conditions, which made the flat, but technical course treacherous in places, as he held off a concerted chase - and fast late charge - from Netherlands champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) to take the biggest victory of his career.

Swiss rider Simon Zahner (EKZ) also managed to escape the chasing group in the final lap, and crossed the line in third place to complete an almost unheard of Belgium-free podium.

Leading the way for the Belgians was Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) who, after suffering problems underfoot in the early laps, recovered to take fourth place after spending much of the race chasing. World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) finishe in fifth place, having slipped onto his backside halfway around the final lap, but this was enough to secure the 26-year-old overall victory in the World Cup.

The snow that had fallen on the earlier women’s race was still coming down as the men lined up for the start and, although it was not deep, it was slippery underfoot, making parts of the course treacherous. With little topography in the landscape, the course would rely mostly on tight corners to make things difficult for the riders, but a steep - and slippery - set of steps and a long, steep drop off would challenge everybody; particularly in the conditions.

Radomír Šimunek leads the way as a group pulls clear

In the absence of newly-crowned Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) - who was usually the fastest to start - van der Haar sprinted away from the line, but it was Radomír Šimunek (Kwadro-Stannah) that led onto the snow-covered fields for the first time. Despite the slippery conditions, the speed was high, which saw the bunch strung out behind the Czech rider.

Disaster struck for van der Haar on the course’s midfield switchbacks, however, as he went shoulder to shoulder with Bina on the outside of a bend, slipped off and put himself way back in the pack.

Šimunek continued to lead, and steadily pulled a small group clear, consisting of Nys, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Bina. As the Czech rider changed his bike, Nys and Pauwels took over the lead, but Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) was leading a group just a few seconds behind them, which contained World champion Albert.

At the end of the first lap, Jim Aernouts (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) had just fought his way up to the leaders, with Albert leading the chase group. Šimunek punctured almost immediately the second lap began, but - luckily for the Czech - this was just before the pits and he was able to change his bike without losing time.

Pauwels continued to set a fierce pace across the frozen course, which was too much for Nys and Aernouts; the two Belgians drifted a few seconds back, where they were joined by Albert. Nys slipped over on a tight corner, allowing the gap to open a little, and allowing the chasing group to join from behind. Albert continued his pace, with Aernouts tucked in behind him; Aernouts slipped off at the foot of a big drop off, but the World champion was in the lead group - along with Zahner - as it hit the finish line.

The group was now up to five, but Pauwels was asking for no help as he continued to set the pace in front.

The chase was splintered behind the five leaders, as one by one the pack tried to get across the gap. Van der Haar sprinted away from the rest in midfield, but Pauwels’ pace was splitting the group up front, with Zahner and Albert beginning to lose contact. The five were together across the line for the third time, however, with the Dutch champion just a few seconds back.

Bina leads the charge and then breaks away alone

The group was soon up to six as the fourth lap began, and now it was Bina that was setting the pace up front. The chase was now being led by French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ) and Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Racing) with Nys in tow, but they were making little progress.

Having tired of dangling off the back of the group, van der Haar pushed himself to the front and began to force the pace himself. Pauwels drifted back, where - since he was the only rider with any mathematical chance of taking the overall World Cup away from the World champion - he was marked by Albert; behind them Nys had broken free of the chase group and was beginning to gain on the World champion.

Albert was forced to stop, as his rear wheel skidded him against the padded barrier at the foot of the big drop off, and was four seconds behind the other five at the end of the lap. Nys had been caught by Mourey, and the two of them were 11 seconds back, with the other chasers scattered behind them.

Nys had Albert in his sights, as the World champion clawed his way back up to the leaders; the group was soon six again as Albert made it across, but it seemed destined to become seven soon as Nys continued his chase.

Bina was leading the front group and was gradually pulling away; van der Haar sprinted up to the Czech rider, and Šimunek and Zahner followed, but Pauwels and Albert seemed slower to catch up. Nys was now just a few seconds behind, with Mourey not far behind him, and both looked set to join the group.

Bina had escaped as he crossed the line with three laps to go, and was six seconds clear of the rest of the leaders; Nys was 14 seconds behind the Czech rider, but now just six behind Pauwels and Albert. Šimunek was leading the chase, with the rest clinging to his wheel, and Nys had joined the back of the group by the time they had covered the first half of the lap.

A scare for the leader but he manages to hold on

Suddenly, as he was approaching a wooded corner, Bina’s front wheel slid away from him; the Czech managed to recover quickly, without falling over, but the incident cost him a lot of time. Zahner slipped in the midfield section, stopping Pauwels in his tracks and allowing Šimunek and van der Haar to get away; the group reformed shortly afterwards, but Bina’s lead was still intact.

With two to go Bina’s lead was seven seconds over van der Haar as the group reformed behind the Dutch champion; Mourey was now on the brink of making contact, but the rest of the field was now way behind. The French champion came within metres of Albert’s back wheel, but slid off on a tight corner, giving himself another chase to get back on.

Van der Haar was determinedly leading the chase group in pursuit of Bina and soon pulled himself away from the group. Pauwels was giving chase, also pulling away from the group and soon joined the Dutch champion in pursuit of the lone leader.

Bina was accelerating too, however, and, as Pauwels dropped his chain at the foot of the big drop off, the gap widened a little. The lone Czech rider was 12 seconds clear at the bell, with Pauwels now more than 30 seconds behind after suffering his mechanical.

The chase group continued to split under the impetus of van der Haar, and the Dutch champion began to pull Šimunek and Zahner away from the Belgians. Second by second he was closing the gap to Bina, but was running out of time to do so. The Dutch champion broke clear of the rest again, and began to close quicker; behind him, Albert slipped onto his backside on a tight turn and lost contact with the chase.

Heading into the final section of the course Bina’s lead was just a few seconds ahead of the Dutch champion, who could see him as he chased up the slippery steps. Bina took the drop off in his stride, however, and managed to hold off van der Haar by seven seconds, with Zahner taking third behind him.

Result
1. Martin Bina (Cze) CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
3. Simon Zahner (Swi) EKZ
4. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
5. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
6. Radomír Šimunek (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah
7. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ
8. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
9. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Racing Team
10. Lukas Flückinger (Swi) BMC Racing Team

Final overall World Cup standings
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 540pts
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 515
3. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony 506
4. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 411
5. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink 372
6. Radomír Šimunek (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah 361
7. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 356
8. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 348
9. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink 318
10. Simon Zahner (Swi) EKZ 298

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