Cyclocross World Cup: Francis Mourey wins for France in the Belgian mud of Namur
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cyclocross World Cup: Francis Mourey wins for France in the Belgian mud of Namur

by Ben Atkins at 10:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
A second crash in two days denies Sven Nys a podium place after a heroic fightback

francis moureyFrancis Mourey (FDJ.fr) scored what was only his second ever victory in the Cyclocross World Cup, as he rode away from the field in the muddy citadel course in Namur, Belgium. The French champion escaped midway through the eight lap race and, although he was barely able to get more than 20 seconds clear of the mainly Belgian chase, never looked in trouble and cruised to what turned out to be a simple victory.

The fight for second place was a far more competitive affair, as the chase group behind Mourey fluctuated between eight and five riders on the technical hilltop fortress course. World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) recovered from a terrible start - after having suffered a puncture in the very first metres of the race - to lead an all-Belgian three-man group clear of the other chasers on the final lap, with Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and former World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

Pressure from Nys had distanced first Albert, and then Vantornout, in the final sections of the final lap, but a fall on the course’s difficult off-camber section saw both riders pass him by. Vantornout took second place, with Albert in third, while Nys just held on to fourth place after a late charge from World Cup leader Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), who almost caught him on the line.

The glory was all for Mourey though, who took his first win in the World Cup since Treviso, Italy, in November 2006.

France leads the way as Nys finds himself going backwards

Mourey was the first away from the line, and managed to open a little gap over Germans Marcel Meisen (Kwadro-Stannah) and Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), who were leading the rest. Nys was struggling up the first steep climb of the course and was a long way back in the field as he reached the top of the Citadel for the first time.

Mourey, meanwhile, had been caught by the leading chasers, with Albert and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) bringing the others up to the back of the German pair. Mourey, Meisen and Walsleben began to edge clear, however, then the French champion accelerated clear again and was seven seconds clear at the end of the first lap.

The chase group was made up of Walsleben, Meisen, Pauwels and teammate Vantornout, Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink), Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Racing) and van der Haar.

Albert and Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) were trying desperately to regain contact with the group, but Nys was now almost a minute behind.

The group soon caught up with Mourey, and Taramarcaz began to push on. Van der Haar then went over the bars at the foot of the first big drop off down from the citadel. The Dutch champion was quickly on his feet, but took a few moments to straighten his handlebars before he could get started again.

Taramarcaz was now moving clear, with Walsleben on his tail, and the two champions were eight seconds clear of van Amerongen and Mourey at the end of the lap, with most of the big names five seconds further back.

With van der Haar now several places back, Walsleben had the World Cup lead in his sights, and came past Taramarcaz to take the lead and try to pull further ahead.

The duo was still in sight of van Amerongen and Mourey, however, with Albert and Vantornout not far behind them. As the two leaders began to edge further away, however, Vantornout managed to join the pair ahead of him, while Albert was joined from behind by Meisen.

As the two leaders passed through the pits at the start of lap four - with Walsleben tangling with the mechanic of another rider - the three chasers caught up, to make a five rider lead group as the race approached its halfway point.

Walsleben wants to get away but it’s Mourey that finally breaks the elastic

Walsleben was in no mood to hang around though, and pulled a little way clear, while Taramarcaz now began to drift back from the other three that were chasing the German champion hard. Mourey led van Amerongen and Vantornout across on the course’s tough, off-camber section, as Albert caught up with Taramarcaz behind them.

With four laps to go this chasing pair was just five seconds behind the four leaders, with the rest of the field now a long way behind.

Mourey then hit the front again, as it began to rain heavily, and the French champion began to string out the group. He was unable to prevent Albert and Taramarcaz making contact at the rear, but pulled a little way clear himself as he scooted his way across the off-camber section.

Nys, meanwhile, was apparently coping well with the arm that he had injured in the previous day's race in Essen, and was cutting his way through the field.

At the end of lap five Mourey was 15 seconds ahead of the five chasers, with van der Haar leading the next group after 34.

Nys was up to 11th place now, having sprinted past a group that contained Pauwels and Aernouts, but the leaders were still 50 seconds ahead of the World champion and there was too little race for him to make up the distance.

Vantornout was leading the chase, but Mourey was pulling further away as the course gradually became more and more muddy. Nys was now up to the van der Haar group, and squeezing his way past as he made his way to the front. On the pit straight towards the end of the lap, his group had the five chasers in sight, and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), van der Haar, and then Nys himself made contact shortly after the finish line.

Mourey was now more than 20 seconds clear though, and still going strong.

Nys attacks for the finish but then falls out of the podium places

As the eight-man chase group struggled across the off-camber section Nys suddenly dismounted and ran past the others. This saw him and Albert edge slightly ahead of the others, and the two Belgian rivals set about trying to catch the Frenchman ahead of them. Vantornout was soon across to them, to make it a Belgian trio, but none of the others was able to follow.

As he took the bell Mourey was 26 seconds ahead of the three Belgians, and seemingly riding on to victory.

Nys was refusing to give up, however, and put in his customary final lap kick that quickly put Vantornout on the back foot. The trio was still all together as it took in the flatter citadel-top switchbacks, however, but, as Albert almost lost his front wheel at the foot of a big drop off, the World champion tried again.

Gradually Nys’ pressure saw Albert dropped and, as he approached the off-camber section, the World champion was pulling clear of Vantornout. Nys found himself trying to put down his lower-side foot though, which saw him topple over, and the Belgian champion rode by him.

Nys was the one now struggling at the back of the chase, as Vantornout was powering clear; alone in second place.

Mourey was approaching the finish now though, and, having saluted his pit crew on the final corner, punched the air, clapped his hands and then raised both arms in the air as he celebrated his second ever World Cup victory.

Vantornout then cruised over alone after 24 seconds, with Albert following after 30. Nys, having lost his place on the podium, was freewheeling to the finish, and only just made it over the line ahead of van der Haar, whose fifth place saw him strengthen his overall lead over Walsleben.

Result
1. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ.fr
2. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
3. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-KDL
5. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team
6. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink
8. Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
9. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
10. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Rcing Team

World Cup standings after four rounds
1. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 257pts
2. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 244
3. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 235
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 231
5. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 229

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