World Cyclocross Championships: Sven Nys finally takes another title in the melting Louisville snow
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

World Cyclocross Championships: Sven Nys finally takes another title in the melting Louisville snow

by Ben Atkins at 3:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results, World Championships
Kannibaal escapes Klaas Vantornout after a final lap error; Lars van der Haar takes bronze for the Netherlands

Sven Nys World ChampionSven Nys, Belgium’s undisputed king of cyclocross, has finally taken another Elite World championship title after escaping compatriot Klaas Vantornout on the final lap of a muddy race in Louisville, Kentucky. The two Belgians had managed to tear themselves clear of an elite lead group on the penultimate lap of the course, which still held traces of the snow that fell in the morning, but a mistake from Vantornout as he caught his bike on a fence, allowed Nys to ride away.

Once clear Nys didn’t look back and sprinted the remainder of the lap, a fierce chase from Vantornout - who had taken Nys’ Belgian champion’s jersey just a few weeks before - closed the gap to just two seconds as they reached the finish, but Nys was already celebrating what was surely an overdue second rainbow jersey.

Lars van der Haar of the Netherlands, who would have qualified for the under-23 race had he not raced the whole season with the elites, fought his way past a succession of tiring Belgians to take the bronze medal and prevent a Belgian sweep of the podium.

The early running in the race was made by Czech Martin Bina - the winner of the recent Hoogerheide, Netherlands, World Cup race - and Frenchman Francis Mourey, but both faded from the race as Mourey suffered a puncture, and the Belgians took control.

The Belgians take the early lead by a Czech takes the initiative at the front

The snow that had fallen in the night, and had been such a feature of the earlier races, had melted on most of the course, with the barely above-freezing-temperatures allowing the icy course to melt a little and form a slippery mud layer on top. As with the other races, the main obstacles were the three sets of steps, one of which led onto the bridge, and another was made of large stones, as well as the two hurdles on the midfield area.

Where it had been ice and snow that had made the Junior and Under-23 Men’s races slippery however, it was the mud that would force the Elite Men to take care.

Belgians Rob Peeters and Vantornout led the race off the tarmac start straight and onto the fields with the entire Belgian team stretched out across the from the the race. Only van der Haar and Martin Bina (Czech Republic) were able to infiltrate the light blue mass, with Marco Fontana (Italy) and Francis Mourey (France) moving up on the first set of steps.

Vantornout continued to lead in his usual fast start, moving a little way clear with Bina on his wheel; Peeters passed through the pits, which left a gap and, as Pauwels moved across it, Bina pushed his way forward.

The Czech rider managed to open a small gap on the stone steps, and Pauwels moved past Vantornout and joined the Czech rider in the lead. As both passed through the pit to change their bikes, however, the rest of the Belgian-led peloton joined them from behind.

Mourey moved up to join the leaders and, as Pauwels slipped on a corner, the Frenchman got a small gap with Bina. The race came together as they arrived at the end of the lap though, with Bina, Mourey, Fontana, Pauwels, Vantornout, Nys, Peeters and Aernouts all together.

Mourey continued to set the pace into the second lap, and managed to open a small gap over Bina. The Czech rider was following with Pauwels in close attendance, while Vantornout was leading Fontana and Nys a few seconds back.

Belgian defending champion Niels Albert meanwhile, was in traffic further back - having suffered a puncture - and changing his bike for a second time.

Mourey escapes and the Belgians struggle to close him down

Vantornout soon joined Bina and Pauwels, with Nys sprinting across the gap behind him; a few seconds back was Peeters, with Albert and van der Haar just behind him. Mourey was moving further ahead, however, and at the end of lap two was 14 seconds ahead of leading chaser Pauwels; Peeters led the next group, with Albert, van der Haar and several others, at 25 seconds.

Mourey spectacularly came down on a slippery corner, as both wheels slid from under him, but the Frenchman was unhurt, and was back up immediately. This did allow Pauwels and Bina to close the gap a little, as they gapped Nys and Vantornout; Albert joined the group from behind as it came together on the off-camber straight, and there were four Belgians and a Czech chasing one Frenchman.

At the end of lap three, Pauwels was still on the front of the chase group, and still 14 seconds behind Mourey, with Nys and Vantornout behind him; Albert and Bina had slipped a few seconds back, but Albert was soon up to his three compatriots.

Pauwels accelerated away from the four-man group, ahead of Nys, with Vantornout and Albert both passing through the pits. The Belgians were beginning to get Mourey into their sights but, behind them, Bina and van der Haar were getting closer. Steadily, Pauwels was pulling up to Mourey as he approached the end of the third lap, and caught up with the Frenchman as they arrived on the finishing straight.

Nys and Vantornout were just five seconds back, with Albert at 11 seconds and van der Haar at 21. Having got up to Mourey, however, Pauwels was happy to sit on the Frenchman’s wheel, which allowed Vantornout and Nys to make it up to them. Albert was almost across the gap as the four leaders ran up the bridge steps, while van der haar was edging ever closer.

The Belgians assert themselves and bad luck begins to strike

Mourey was far from phased by the three Belgians lined up behind him and continued to try to shake them off. The Frenchman ran wide at the bottom of the stone steps though, which allowed Pauwels past him; as the Belgian changed his bike in the pits, however, Mourey took the front again.

The four riders were all together as they crossed the line together, with Albert now 11 seconds behind them. Van der Haar was closing on the defending champion, and was now just five seconds behind the Belgian. Vantornout and Mourey tried to escape the other two, while Pauwels was now looking to Nys to close the gap that this created.

Albert gradually made his way up to the lead group again, but was still a few seconds behind as the leaders climbed the stone steps again. Van der Haar was desperately trying to stay in touch with the Belgian in front of him, but neither was able to make it across those final few seconds.

Suddenly disaster struck for Pauwels, and the technical problems that had plagued him all season struck again. The Belgian unshipped his chain on a corner close to the finish and, as he fought to free it from between his chainring and frame, took a long time to replace it. It came off again as he reached the finishing straight, but the race had already gone.

Up ahead Vantornout, Mourey and Nys were clear, and the two Belgians were were rid of the Frenchman as he too suffered a technical problem and punctured. Albert was now the third rider on the course, still battling to close, with van der Haar now in fourth.

The two Belgian leaders were waiting for no one though, and were swapping turns at the head of the race.

Nys and Vantornout battle for the lead until more bad luck strikes

On the technical, wooded section of the course though, as they approached the finish line, Nys signalled his intentions with a fierce acceleration. Vantornout was able to close the gap, but this was surely the first of many attacks from the Kannibaal. Behind them, van der Haar had finally caught up with Albert, and edged in front of the Belgian as they tried to chase the two leaders. Gradually, the former under-23 World champion edged away from the outgoing elite champion.

Vantornout was leading Nys as the front but, as Nys bunny hopped the hurdles, he pulled ahead of his compatriot; Vatornout clearly wanted the lead, however, and squeezed past again as they headed towards the woods at the end of the lap. They crossed the line together, to take the bell, with van der Haar a clear third, ahead of another Belgian in Bart Wellens, who was now up with Albert, and Germany’s Philipp Walsleben.

Vantornout was still keen to lead, to guard against Nys’ trademark final lap accelerations, and Nys was happy to let him for the time being. As the snow began to fall harder, the two Belgians were locked together over the bridge, but an small jump from Nys saw him move ahead as they passed the pits for the first time.

Vantornout squeezed past again though, putting himself in Nys’ way on the course’s most technical sectons. Nys accelerated up the stone steps, though and, as Vantornout’s bike became tangled on the fence at the top, he was away.

Once clear, Nys continued to stamp on his pedals and the small gap that he had created got wider and wider as he rode into the second half of the lap. Vantornout was chasing frantically, but his error had allowed the Kannibaal to get away and, at this stage of any race, he would normally be all but impossible to catch.

As Nys sat up to punch the sky in the finishing straight, the gap closed to just two seconds, but it was enough for the undisputed king of cyclocross to finally take his second World crown. Van der Haar took third place, 25 seconds later, with Wellens finishing fourth, ahead of a sprint finish between Walsleben and Switzerland’s Julien Taramarcaz.

Result World Cyclocross Championship Elite Men
1. Sven Nys (Belgium)
2. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) @ 2s
3. Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) @ 25s
4. Bart Wellens (Belgium) @ 41s
5. Philipp Walsleben (Germany) @ 44s
6. Julien Taramarcaz (Switzerland)
7. Radomir Šimunek (Czech Republic) @ 1’15”
8. Niels Albert (Belgium) @ 1’19”
9. Thijs van Amerongen (Netherlands) @ 1’31”
10. Martin Bina (Czech Republic) @ 1’41”
11. Francis Mourey (France) @ 1’54”
12. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) @ 2’04”
13. Simon Zahner (Switzerland) @ 2’36”
14. Enrico Franzoi (Italy) @ 2’38”
15. Bart Aernouts (Belgium) @ 2’48”
16. Marcel Meisen (Germany) @ 2’54”
17. Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland) @ 3’04”
18. Rob Peeters (Belgium) @ 3’16”
19. Timothy Johnson (United States) @ 3’20”
20. Arnaud Grand (Switzerland) @ 3’32”
21. Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland) @ 3’38”
22. Jonathan Page (United States) @ 3’42”
23. Aitor Hernandez (Spain) @ 3’58”
24. Geoff Kabush (Canada) @ 4’06”
25. Jeremy Powers (United States) @ 4’16”
26. Marco Fontana (Italy) @ 4’27”
27. James Driscoll (United States) @ 4’37”
28. Javier Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spain) @ 5’15”
29. Ian Field (Great Britain) @ 5’38”
30. Guillaume Perrot (France) @ 5’44”
31. Yu Takenouchi (Japan) @ 5’47”
32. Romain Lejeune (France) @ 6’00”
33. Christian Helmig (Luxembourg) -2 Laps
34. Craig Richey (Canada) -2 Laps
35. Daniel Summerhill (United States) -2 Laps
36. Vaclav Metlicka (Slovakia) -2 Laps
37. Mike Carrigan (Canada) -4 Laps
38. Alexander Revell (New Zealand) -4 Laps
39. Hikaru Kosaka (Japan) -5 Laps
40. Lewis Rattray (Australia) -5 Laps
41. Zoltan Tisza (Hungary) -5 Laps
42. Maksym Shepitko (Ukraine) -5 Laps
43. David Quist (Norway) -6 Laps
DNF Ryan Trebon (United States)
DNF Twan van den Brand (Netherlands)


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