Cyclocross World Cup: Albert goes solo in Rome victory over van der Haar
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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Cyclocross World Cup: Albert goes solo in Rome victory over van der Haar

by Kyle Moore at 10:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Nys rounds out podium, van der Haar extends WC lead as Walsleben falters

Niels AlbertNiels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) ignored the mounting discomfort after going away solo in the penultimate round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup, and held off cup leader Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) and world champ Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) on the final lap to grab his second World Cup win of the season.

Van der Haar took second ahead of Nys, and coupled with the 11th place finish by Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), van der Haar was able to strengthen his lead in the WC standings, while Albert moved up a spot to second.

Albert used a good start to help form a leading group that paced the first two laps, and on the third time around the muddy, windy, and winding Roma course, the former world champion slipped away by himself. His solo lead never hit more than 20 seconds, but it also never appeared as if his victory would be threatened as he kept the power up through the mud.

The BKCP-Powerplus rider said after the race that he was paying for the race-long effort at the end, but he could still manage a smile about the result.

“That was a very hard one,” Albert acknowledged at the finish. “The course was very muddy with rain last night and today. It was a hard race. I was a little tired from training on Friday - we did some hard training at home. The last two laps, I was totally broken. Everything was hurting, so I’m happy I won.”

How Albert’s victory took shape:

Walsleben got an early start in his effort to claw back world cup points, swinging inside Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) on the first turn and grabbing the early lead. By the elite men’s race, most of the grass sections had turned to mud thanks to a recent rain. Albert stayed out of trouble going wide on the first turn and took a good early place, as did Namur winner Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr).

Walsleben’s pressure had opened several splits before the first lap was finished. Along with Walsleben, the four out front consisted of Bina, Albert, and Mourey, and it was already a sizeable chunk of distance back to the next group with one lap gone. The trio of Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus), Corne Van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was next over at nine seconds, and from there, the gaps had started to open. Van der Haar was 18 seconds in arrears, in 13th place after a lap.

Albert paced the leading group through the series of muddy S-curves, and gradually, the groups behind started pulling back the advantage. Mourey wasn’t enjoying the mud in the front group, and fell back through the curves under Albert’s pressure. Behind the chasing trio, it was a long line of riders trying to get back in contention, led through the second lap by Thijs Van Amerongen (AA Drink).

Albert led them over beginning the third lap, with Bina squinting through the mud and Mourey at ten seconds back. The Wellens trio had dipped to 19 seconds, while van der Haar had moved inside the top ten, but at nearly a half-minute back. Off the grass finish stretch, Albert used the first section of dirt racetrack to stretch a lead, although Bina wasn’t willing to let him go. Behind, Wellens had a brief mechanical that sent him backward from his chasing trio, back to Van Amerongen at the head of the main bunch.

On a Roma course lacking in variety but made difficult by the mud, Albert was unquestionably strongest through the first half of the race, as the Belgian extended again through the turns of the third lap. With five to go, Albert had 13 seconds on the three riders behind him with the rain pouring. Mourey was back with Walsleben and Bina to make the three-man chase. The rest of the top ten had drifted further back, but van der Haar was finally on his horse. The Dutch champion had bridged to Van Amerongen at the head of the main chase, and it wasn’t long before they had the Walsleben trio in sight through the S-curves.

Bosmans and Van Kessel had dissolved into the main chase, making for a solo leader, three chasers, and a main bunch continuing to close in on the trio. The sun emerged after a rain burst, showing Bina with a brief gap on Mourey and Walsleben. A lap later, van der Haar was up with Mourey and Bina. An acceleration by Mourey had Bina and van der Haar on him, but Walsleben had started to struggle.

The next laps saw several riders throwing small punches, but the only rider unable to counter was Walsleben.

Mourey had gotten a second wind through the mud, achieving a gap over van der Haar and Bina. Van Amerongen was next on course as Walsleben continued to fade back through the groups.

With three to go, Mourey was 15 seconds adrift of Albert, with van der Haar and Bina at 21 seconds. Nys had moved into sixth ahead of Van Kessel and Bosmans, as Walsleben dropped to the back of the top ten. Meanwhile, the S-curves pained Mourey again, allowing van der Haar and Bina to get back to him. Behind the trio, Nys was heating up, riding with Van Amerongen within sight of the three ahead of them. Bina was next to falter in the group, falling back from his two companions and then getting caught by Nys and Van Amerongen. Van Kessel and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) were working hard behind them to try and keep close.

With two laps left, Albert was still maintaining his advantage, 18 ticks ahead of Mourey and van der Haar. Then came Nys, driving hard and sending Van Amerongen and Bina into a world of hurt behind him. Riders continued to space out on course, with Walsleben in tenth place, more than a minute back of Albert.

Van der Haar’s earlier efforts eventually began to briefly bite him. The world cup leader began to fade from Mourey on the penultimate lap, while behind him Nys was nipping at his heels and looking for a podium place. Nys had distanced Bina and Van Amerongen, lurking alone on van der Haar’s wheel. Mourey tore out of a final corner approaching the finish straight, aware that Nys was zeroing in on him with van der Haar tucked in behind.

Albert took the bell 13 seconds ahead of a grumpy-looking Mourey, the Frenchman now barely ahead of Nys and van der Haar. Bina and Van Amerongen had lost a half-minute in barely two laps, but continued to hold fifth and sixth. Albert calmly took the S-curves for the final time, giving up some ground to the three behind him, but already having done the work to grant him the privilege.

The Dutch champ van der Haar came around to lead the chasing trio through most of the final lap, never too far behind Albert, but only riding for the two remaining podium spots. Nys was next man through, pushing hard but checking under his arm before easing up. Mourey took his turn as Albert eased toward the finish.

The former world champ added Roma to his Koksijde victory earlier in the season. Van der Haar sprinted in five seconds later for second place just ahead of Nys, the speed to the finish having done in Mourey, who crossed for fourth at 11 seconds.

UCI Cyclocross World Cup – Roma – Elite Men’s Brief Results:

1, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)
2, Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) at 5”
3, Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) at 5”
4, Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) at 11”
5, Martin Bina (Kwadro-Stannah) at 41”
6, Rob Peeters (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) at 46”
7, Thijs Van Amerongen (AA Drink) at 51”
8, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) at 1’02”
9, Corne Van Kessel 116
10, Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) at 1’20”
11, Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) at 1’33”
12, Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus) at 1’36”
13, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) at 1’46”
14, Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) at 1’54”
15, Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) at 2’09”

World Cup Standings:

1, Lars van der Haar 407 points
2, Niels Albert 353
3, Philipp Walsleben 344
4, Kevin Pauwels 313
5, Klaas Vantornout 279
6, Francis Mourey 270
7, Thijs Van Amerongen 267
8, Sven Nys 264
9, Bart Aernouts 264
10, Rob Peeters 248

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