Albert completes first half comeback to win Superprestige Hamme-Zogge
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Albert completes first half comeback to win Superprestige Hamme-Zogge

by Kyle Moore at 11:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
British champ Nikki Harris triumphs again in women's race

Niels AlbertNiels Albert (BCKP-Powerplus) got a rare comfortable victory with Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) safely behind him on Sunday in the elite men’s Superprestige Hamme-Zogge. Albert increased his tempo on lap four and saw the riders behind him suffer a variety of hang-ups, slip-ups, and mechanical trouble. Albert’s advantage was close to a half-minute in the closing laps, and for once, Nys could do nothing to dash the former world champion’s hopes of victory.

After Albert’s celebratory salutes, Nys finished second just a few seconds behind him, with German champion Philip Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) riding a solid race for third. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was with Nys toward the end of the race, but a mechanical issue forced him to run for a new bike, and eventually relegated him to sixth.

In his first year as an elite rider, Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus) added another top result for his team, taking his best Superprestige result in fourth. Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC) rounded out the top five.

"I am very happy that I could win here," Albert told Sporza afterward. "I had a good start to the season, but then I experienced a dip. I am now fully recovered. I've had good feelings in training and now in a race. I was waiting for that win and now it's happened.

"I had a good start, but then had that accident. I went to the ground and a lot of riders passed me. There's not much I could do about it, so there's no need to panic there. I had a good feeling when I got to the front. That gives me confidence for the next few weeks."

Sunny skies belied the course conditions below, which varied mostly from thick mud to thin, watery mud, with moderate temperatures providing the backdrop.

Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Offroad) was out the quickest per his usual, but the Dutchman would eventually struggle through a bit of an off day, later finishing 11th. On the Hamme-Zogge course’s first muddy section, Albert nearly came off, digging in his front wheel and hitting the left side barrier. His rear wheel came up and was clipped by a Kwadro-Stannah rider behind him, spinning the Belgian around entirely and putting him well behind early.

At the front of the field, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) dug in a bit too deep as well, this one at the bottom of a steep downhill. The resulting loss of places put the struggling Belgian far enough behind that he would not threaten the rest of the race. Once Pauwels was back up, he was back in the middle of the field with Albert. Ahead, Taramarcaz overtook Nys for the lead, with Vantornout there as well. It was bike changes every lap for most riders, but Thijs Van Amerongen (AA Drink) kept his on the first lap, helping him consolidate his spot in fourth on the course.

Bosmans was riding in fifth, and the top five riders on course had suddenly pulled out a ten-second lead on sixth place, which at the time was being occupied by Walsleben. Albert, Pauwels, and van der Haar were still well back. Van Amerongen came through to pace his group, which also contained Nys, Vantornout, Bosmans, and Taramarcaz. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) was working hard with Walsleben to chase down the top five, and they would eventually make in-roads, as many riders were forced to run some of the sections with thicker mud. Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) saw his day end with a mechanical, and Thijs Al (Telenet-Fidea) succumbed to a profusely bleeding nose. The entirety of the top five changed bikes finishing lap two, as Walsleben and Meeusen continued to catch up.

With seven men over the line to begin lap three, the next through were Albert and Jim Aernouts (Sunweb-Napoleon Games). But Albert had the lead group in his sights, and as he left Aernouts behind, he caught Walsleben and Meeusen, who were all zeroing in on the front.

With three laps down, eight men were in play for the win: Nys, Vantornout, Bosmans, Van Amerongen, Taramarcaz, Albert, Meeusen, and Walsleben.

Things were getting a little bumpy and bustling to start lap four, and Walsleben had begun to extend at the front until a short, steep uphill caught him up. Meanwhile, Albert had come through at the front, beginning his threat. The increased pace put more pain to Van Amerongen, and the young Bosmans was starting to struggle as well. Albert had team-mate Walsleben with him, and the two were working together, so Nys came around Taramarcaz for third as lap five began. The BKCP-Powerplus duo had three seconds on the rest starting the new lap.

With Albert still driving, Walsleben, Nys, and Vantornout were hanging in. This quartet was putting a little distance on Taramarcaz and Meeusen, some of the top names in the sport beginning to establish themselves in the mud. With Walsleben also beginning to hurt, Vantornout slipped out in the mud, hopping back up and carrying the rest of the section. As Albert continued to pressure, Nys and Vantornout hung in, but Walsleben continued to slip back, as did Taramarcaz and Meeusen. What was a multi-national front group began to look like an all-Belgian podium.

With five laps complete, Albert looked back and assessed his damage. Nys and Vantornout were still just behind, but Walsleben had slipped to 21 seconds, with Taramarcaz and Meeusen even further back. Albert’s lead over the line was a couple ticks, but it was out past ten seconds on Nys halfway through the lap. Vantornout had come around Nys, the scorching veteran showing a little weakness for the first time in 2013. When Albert hit the line to complete lap six, he had pulled out an impressive 20 seconds on Vantornout and Nys. Walsleben was closing in on the duo, at 35 seconds back, and Taramarcaz was holding onto fifth, at 42 seconds.

The steep bump that caught up Walsleben earlier also trapped Vantornout, and with Nys stuck behind him, the Kannibal had some choice words for the Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider as they were getting back underway. But bigger problems were coming for Vantornout, as he slid out on another corner after Nys had come around him. The result was a mechanical issue that ended Vantornout’s threat completely, as he had to run all the way around to change his bike, getting passed by Taramarcaz, Bosmans, and others in the process.

Nys was alone in his chase to begin the final lap, and he was facing an uphill battle, nearly a half-minute behind Albert. Walsleben was the big beneficiary of the Vantornout mechanical, as the German champion rode just behind Nys in third.

Albert was clean the rest of the way, with plenty of time to clean off his sponsors and flash a muddy grin. Nys completed his run to second, with Walsleben third.

Bosmans got his best elite men’s result with fourth, which he grabbed from Taramarcaz in the final straight as the fireworks exploded for Albert.

Nikki Harris cruises to Superprestige round three over Cant, De Boer

With Helen Wyman taking the weekend off of racing, her compatriot Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea) had a bit of an easier ride in the Superprestige Hamme-Zogge, but both the course and the competitors assured that Harris would not have a simple victory. Ellen Van Loy (DNCS Pro 2012 CT) was out quickest early on, but Harris was shadowing her through the steep and muddy lumps of the Hamme-Zogge course.

Harris took over toward the mid-point, but she had team-mate Sophie De Boer with her. Van Loy ran third, although she had Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) on a charge behind her. De Boer temporarily extended her advantage on Harris, but the British champ remained calm and clean. Cant came around Van Loy, while up front, Harris had made the pass, pulling away from De Boer.

Harris won solo, with eight seconds on the two women behind her. Cant won the sprint over De Boer for second, with Van Loy coming in fourth.

Superprestige Hamme-Zogge Elite Men’s Brief Results:

1, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)
2, Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL)
3, Philip Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus)
4, Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus)
5, Julien Taramarcaz (BMC)
6, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games)
7, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games)
8, Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea)
9, Niels Wubben (Rabobank-Giant Offroad)
10, Thijs Van Amerongen (AA Drink)

Superprestige Hamme-Zogge Elite Women’s Brief Results:

1, Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea)
2, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP)
3, Sophie de Boer (Young Telenet Fidea)
4, Ellen Van Loy (DNCS Pro 2012 CT)
5, Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet Fidea)
6, Annefleur Kalvenhaar (VV Giant DT Benelux)
7, Monique Van De Ree (Cyclelive Plus-Zannata)
8, Lois Sels (DNCS Pro 2012 CT)
9, Margriet Kloppenburg (BMC Concept Store)
10, Reza Hormes (MTB Licht Verzet)


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