Bpost Bank Trofee: Sven Nys wins the Azencross after a tough, muddy contest
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Friday, December 27, 2013

Bpost Bank Trofee: Sven Nys wins the Azencross after a tough, muddy contest

by Ben Atkins at 10:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Marianne Vos takes revenge on Katie Compton after World Cup defeats

sven nysSven Nys (Crelan-KDL) won his sixth edition of the Azencross, in Loenhout, just outside Antwerp, at the end of a fast, but muddy contest. The World champion managed to power his way clear of Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) - the winner of the previous three editions of the post-Christmas race - with two and a half of the eight laps remaining and, although he was barely able to open up a lead of more than a dozen seconds, was able to hold off the chase all the way to the finish.

Albert was joined by Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) shortly after Nys had escaped and, with the former World champion unable to drop him on the muddy course, Peeters easily managed to outsprint Albert to take second place.

With the Bpost Bank Trofee decided on time, Nys increased his overall lead over Albert with three races in the series remaining.

Albert gets away well for once but the muddy course is still too fast to make a break

Albert made what was arguably his best start of the season, and was first away from the line. The winner of the three previous editions proceeded to lead the race around the first lap, with Nys, Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink) lined up behind him. Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was leading the chase behind the front group, until Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) came past with with a jump over one of the two big bumps.

Vantornout made his way past the Czech champion again after the course’s famous “Washboard”, however, and led him and Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) over to the leaders as the first lap ended.

Štybar immediately hit the front, but was passed by van Amerongen as they hit the muddiest part of the course. The Dutchman then tried to break clear but, despite the acceleration behind him, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was leading a small group up to the leaders’ rear. Van Amerongen took the GvA bonus sprint part way around the second lap, with Albert and Nys taking second and third behind him.

Štybar once again got air on the first of the two big bumps, and moved ahead of van Amerongen once more. Despite his best efforts, however, the Czech champion was only able to string out the group behind him, but not break clear.

A group of more than a dozen riders entered the finishing straight together, so van Amerongen accelerated again to try to break it up. Štybar was right behind the Dutchman again though, along with the rest of the big names, and the group continued to grow as more riders joined from the rear.

Jim Aernouts ups the pace but Walsleben’s kick finally splits the race

Midway around the lap Jim Aernouts (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) managed to move to the front and his pace finally began to split the group. By the time he hit the Washboard for the third time he had pulled van Amerongen, Štybar, Vantornout and Peeters a little way clear, and was joined by Julien Taramarcaz (BMC), Nys and Pauwels.

Walsleben led a group back up to the leaders before they could hit the finish line and - with teammate Albert on his wheel - the German champion sprinted past and hit the front.

Nys was on Albert’s wheel, however, and the World champion soon came past the two BKCP-Powerplus riders and accelerated away himself. Albert was quickly on his big rival’s wheel, and the two of them were suddenly clear of the rest. Vantornout broke clear in a lone pursuit, but was several seconds behind the two leaders as they made their way around the second half of the lap.

The Belgian champion managed to claw his way across the gap as Nys and Albert made their way around the midfield switchbacks, but the gap to the rest of the chasers was now 11 seconds. Shortly after the Washboard Vantornout attacked, but was caught befoe he could reach the line; Štybar managed to pull the group across the gap, and the race came together once more.

Albert promptly accelerated again, but Nys powered over the top of the BKCP-Powerplus rider and began to pull the trio clear again. Having allowed Nys to lead through the muddiest part, Albert moved ahead as the course became firmer; Nys was with him again, along with Vantornout and teammate Aernouts, while Štybar led Peeters seven seconds behind them.

Albert’s pace was beginning to pull Nys clear of the two Sunweb-Napoleon Games riders and, over the Washboard and into the finishing straight, the two of them managed to open a gap of four seconds, with Štybar and Peeters a similar distance further behind.

Albert accelerates but Nys escapes

A wobble in the mud from Aernouts saw him both dropped by Vantornout and passed by Štybar, and Vantornout soon made his way back up to Albert and Nys. Štybar was also soon across the gap, but Nys was accelerating again and opening up a gap on his own. Sprinting out of the pits, the World champion was five seconds ahead of the chasing trio, and increased this gap over the muddy section that followed.

Getting air over the bumps yet again, Štybar escaped the other chasers, but Nys was on a charge and the Czech champion was not closing the gap. As Albert led the others up to the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider the gap was still eight seconds, as Nys was heading towards the Washboard again.

Over the finish line with two laps to go, Nys had increased his lead to 13 seconds as Štybar, Albert, Vantornout and Peeters began to look at one another.

Albert then managed to fight his way clear, across the muddiest part of the course, followed by Peeters, who had carried his bike rather than try to ride it. Albert had Nys in sight across the long, straight sections of the course, and managed to cut the gap to nine seconds again at the halfway point.

This gap was back up to 11 seconds as Nys took the bell, and the presence of Peeters on his wheel was now making Albert look over his shoulder. Sure enough, the Telenet-Fidea rider moved around the former World champion as soon as they hit the fields again, but Albert rode past again as Peeters shouldered his bike on the muddiest section.

Once again, Albert’s acceleration was enough to shave a few seconds off Nys’ slim lead, but the World champion was now making his way around the final half of the lap, and Albert was running out of time to catch him.

Over the Washboard one last time, Nys sprinted around the final muddy corners and entered the finishing straight with time to spare. With the classification decided on time though, the World champion sprinted all the way to the line, only sitting up to point to the sky with both hands as he crossed to take victory.

Albert had been unable to shake Peeters and, as the two riders approached the line, the Telenet-Fidea rider sprinted around the three-time winner to take second.

Marianne Vos gets one back over Compton in women’s race

Having been beaten in their previous two encounters - in the World Cup races at Namur and Zolder - Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) managed to get one over US champion Katie Compton (Trek) once again. European champion Helen Wyman (Kona) put her disappointing World Cup result behind her with third place, not far behind Compton.

The race began with an attack from Ellen Van Loy (DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team), but the drama on the first corners came from the second crash in as many days from British champion Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) as she came together with Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP). Both riders were up quickly but, having been passed by most of the field, the incident effectively ended both on-form riders’ chances.

As she had done the previous day, Compton began to set her furious pace on the front, but Vos was able to stay with the American this time, while Wyman managed to keep the two rivals in sight not far behind.

A stumble from Compton around barrier end on midfield switchback saw Vos hit the front, but the World Cup leader managed to fight her way back up to the World champion again. Compton tried to crack Vos again late on, but a final kick from the Dutchwoman saw her escape, and she was able to ride clear to take a fourth victory in the race.

Compton followed Vos over to take second place, with Wyman not far behind her. A few moments later Cant beat Harris in the sprint for fourth place, with both riders having fought their way back up through the field.

Wyman’s third place was enough to see the European champion extend her series lead over Cant and Harris.

Result Elite Men
1. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-KDL
2. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
3. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
5. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
7. Wietse Bosmans (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
9. Julien Tamaracaz (Swi) BMC Racing
10. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Result Elite Women
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/Giant
2. Katie Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective
3. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
4. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
5. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
6. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra) BH-SR Suntour-KMC
7. Sophie de Boer (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
8. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team
9. Eva Lechner (Ita) Colnago-Südtirol
10. Loes Sels (Bel) DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team

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