Superprestige Cyclocross: Niels Albert makes it a double weekend in Gieten
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Superprestige Cyclocross: Niels Albert makes it a double weekend in Gieten

by Ben Atkins at 10:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Disaster strikes Nys; Van der Haar denied by missed pedal; Wyman takes women’s race

niels albert

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) capped a perfect weekend with his second victory in two days at the 2013 edition of the Superprestige Gieten, the one race in the season-long competition to be held in the Netherlands. The former World champion, who had won the previous day’s World Cup race in Koksijde, Belgium, recovered from a disastrous start, that saw him dead last in the middle of lap one, came out on top of a mano a mano duel with Lars van der Haar (Rabobank).

Neither rider could do anything to shake the other as the two riders fought out the final three laps together; the race was finally decided as the Netherlands champion missed his pedal as they both remounted after the final run up of the final lap, which allowed Albert to open a decisive gap with just a few hundred metres to go.

Behind the fight for victory, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) won the duel for third place as he outsprinted German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) on the line.

The wind holds up the start as Albert struggles to get away again

After the start had been delayed a few minutes, as the strong wind blew some barriers down on the start/finish straight, van der haar made his usual fast start. It was the Kwadro-Stannah duo of Czechs Martin Bina and Radomir Šimunek that hit the first corner first, however, with Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) coming between them in the early grass sections.

Albert had suffered yet another terrible start, and was in last place as the bunch hit the hurdles for the first time.

Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) moved up front behind Bina, with van der Haar, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), and the Telenet-Fidea trio of Corné van Kessel, Rob Peeters and Meeusen, and a gap began to open behind them. This group was five seconds clear of the next as is crossed the finish line for the first time, with Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC) leading the chase.

Albert was making his way back through the field at this point, but was more than 30 seconds behind the leaders by now.

Van Kessel then hit the front and strung out the seven-man group, but couldn’t prevent Walsleben from jumping across the gap to join on the back. Niels Wubben (Rabobank) and Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) were not far behind, but were just unable to close the last few seconds as the pace was kept high at the front.

Nys grabbed a pair of long-finger gloves as he passed through the pits, and spent the last few sections of the third lap putting them on at the back of the leading group.

Peeters then hit the front and tried to split the group, but more riders were joining from behind on the technical, sandy sections. Pauwels and Albert were leading another group, which was now just ten seconds behind as they crossed the line at the end of lap four.

Having made the lead group Taramarcaz moved up to the front, but the group was beginning to consolidate behind him. Albert, meanwhile, jumped away from his chasing group, and was soon closing in on the sizeable bunch in front of him.

Nys splits the race before disaster hits the World champion

Nys accelerated as the bunch hit the sandy, lakeside section, however, and pulled a little way clear of the others. The group that had been growing in number then began to splinter under the World champion’s pace, and very soon he had just Taramarcaz and Vantornout for company. Meeusen was leading the next group, six seconds behind this trio, with seven laps to go.

Suddenly, the World champion came down in the woods though, and was overtaken by the rest of the group as he recovered; leading the next group just a few moments later, real disaster struck for Nys, as a broken spoke in his rear wheel saw him forced to shoulder his bike and run the considerable distance to the pits.

The front group - minus Nys - had reformed by the time it reached the finish line, while Albert was now leading the next chase group a few seconds back. The leaders took turns to lift the pace at the front of the race, but the Albert/Pauwels group made contact before the halfway point of the lap. There were 12 riders at the head of the race as they crossed the line with five laps to go, while Nys was 50 seconds behind in 19th place. The World champion now looked almost certain to miss out on the points at the end of the race, and lose his lead in the Superprestige standings.

Albert was now the one accelerating at the front of the group, and beginning to split the race. Van der Haar was glued to his back wheel, and came around the BKCP-Powerplus rider as they headed towards the sandy section, but the group reformed as they reached the technical sections of the lap.

The Netherlands champion then put in a huge acceleration as they climbed the sandy rise away from the lake, which tore himself, Albert and Vantornout clear. Albert then hit the front and continued to put the pressure on, and the trio was eight seconds clear of the rest as they crossed the finish line with four to go.

Albert and Van der Haar crack the rest but can’t shake off each other

Van der Haar and Albert continued to accelerate as the three leaders passed through the wooded section, and gradually widened their lead. Vantornout was struggling to hold on to the two others, while Walsleben and Meeusen led a desperate chase behind him. Yet another dig from Albert as they exited the sandy section saw the Belgian champion finally distanced, and he was forced to allow himself to be caught by the chasers with thee laps to go.

Van der Haar then set about trying to get rid of Albert, in the one Dutch round of the mostly Belgian series, but Albert clung doggedly to his wheel through the woods and on the approach to the lakeside beach. Walsleben, meanwhile, had wrestled his way clear of the others, and was alone in third place behind them; Meeusen chased down the German champion, however, and the two riders were together as they approached the end of the lap.

With two to go, the gap between the two pairs of riders was 14 seconds, with the rest of the chasers another ten seconds back.

Van der Haar was still trying vainly to shed Albert, but every time the Netherlands champion was able to pull out a few metres, the Belgian closed them again as they slowed for a corner. They were still together at the bell, with Albert finally taking the front, but Meeusen and Walsleben had cut their deficit to just eight seconds.

Content to let Albert lead, van der Haar sat behind the Belgian for the first half of the lap, which saw the two chasers close even further. Albert kicked as they hit the sand for the final time, which saw him open up a small gap of his own, but van der Haar was back with him as they climbed away from the lake.

The final sandy run up almost saw the two riders come together but, as they remounted again with the finish almost in sight, van der Haar missed his pedal, and the slight delay was all that Albert needed to get the vital gap he needed. Finally free, Albert sat up exhaustedly to celebrate his second victory of the weekend, while Meeusen beat Walsleben into third.

Albert’s victory, coupled with Nys’ disaster - with the World champion having abandoned the race with a few laps to go - saw the race winner take over the lead in the Superprestige classification.

Helen Wyman solos clear to take women’s race

Helen Wyman (Kona) put her sixth place in the previous day’s World Cup race behind her as she rode clear of the pack to take a solo victory in Gieten, as the race organiser gave the women’s race its usual 10:45 start. The European champion took the lead on the first lap, and steadily widened her lead over those chasing behind her, to comfortably take her eighth victory of the 2013/14 season.

Reza Hormes (Orange Babies) made the fastest start, but Sanne Cant accelerated through the woods for the first time, and Wyman went straight over the top of the Belgian champion and never looked back.

As Wyman’s lead grew, the battle for second was between Cant and Sabrina Stultiëns (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) as the two of them fought - as Albert and van der Haar were to do much later on - to distance the other on the varied terrain of the course.

On the last lap Cant finally managed to exploit her superiority on the sand and managed to distance the young Dutchwoman at last. Wyman was riding into the finish by now, but Cant took a comfortable second place behind her, several seconds clear of Stultiëns.

Result Elite Men
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
3. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
4. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
5. Marcel Meisen (Ger) Kwadro-Stannah
6. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
7. Martin Bina (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah
8. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
9. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
10. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Result Elite Women
1. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
2. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
3. Sabrina Stultiëns (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/Giant

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