Albert wins mudfest at SP Asper-Gavere
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Albert wins mudfest at SP Asper-Gavere

by Bjorn Haake at 10:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 

Niels Albert won the Superprestige in Asper-Gavere on a very tough parcours. Albert profited from the bad luck of Sven Nys, who caught Albert with less than three laps to go, but almost immediately suffered from a flat tire. The relentless rain had put the parcours in its usual state of deep mud, making the race slow and even the downhill sections hard to to ride.

Albert put the bad memories of his pre-race crash last year behind and took the initiative early on. Nys had a slow start, but bravely fought back. Just when all looked set for an exciting duel between the two Belgian cyclocross superstars, Nys flatted. "I realized that he had some technical problems. I profited from this," Albert acknowledged after the race. It was Albert's first win in Gavere.

Albert's announcement to dominate the race was only true for three quarters of the race. "Sven is always very good," Albert acknowledged. His spout with the Nys fans is now past him. "I had a lot of messages from my supporters, that felt good."

Nys said that Albert deserved to win today. "I had a bad start, which was my fault. I slipped out of the pedal." Nys vanished into the peloton and had to spend most of the race catching Albert. Once he had him, disaster struck. "I tried to hide the flat tire from Niels, but then I had to climb the hill with it. At that point it was over."

Nys couldn't answer if he would have won without the mishap. "But I was feeling very well today and had the power to accelerate on the tough sections. I came back from a long ways down."

Behind, Zdenek Stybar finished on the podium for the 11th time in 12 races, managing to outsprint his Fidea teammate Kevin Pauwels for third. "I am content, this is a classic cyclocross course," Stybar said in the finish. He admitted having some trouble finding his rhythm. "I was on Albert's wheel, but then had a crisis." He said he just had to be patient to finally win a race. "I hope next time."

Klaas Vantornout finished fifth, despite losing his back wheel in the final lap. This happened in a running section and Vantornout had to continue on foot to the pit.

All after Albert

The Fidea duo Pauwels and Stybar stirred things up in the beginning, creating a small gap to a group with Albert, Vantornout, Bart Aernouts and Gerben De Knegt. In the third from nine laps the two groups merged, with Nys in a group of six, 16 seconds behind.

Nys then attacked his group and caught the tail end of the splintering front group. At the same time Albert went off the front and looked like he would solo home.

After three laps, Albert led Stybar by 10 seconds and Nys by 28. But Nys didn't give up and slowly clawed his way back to the chasers of Albert. After four laps the gap was 24 seconds between the leader and the Nys group (with Stybar, Vantornout, Aernouts and Pauwels).

After five laps the gap was down to 17 seconds, with Nys using the descents to split his group. Vantornout also had a technical problem. "I had to get off and lost valuable time," he said. With three laps to go, Nys was 12 seconds, the Fidea duo Pauwels and Stybar at 30 seconds.

In that same lap, Nys finally caught Albert on the main climb. This would have been quite a tense finale, had it not been ruined by Nys' flat tire.

Read a first-hand account of the race in Jonathan Page's VeloNation blog.

Results:

1. Niels Albert (BKPC)
2. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet)
3. Zdenek Stybar (Fidea)
4. Kevin Pauwels (Fidea)
5. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Pro Job)
6. Bart Aernouts (Rabobank)
7. Ervin Vervecken (Revor)
8. Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas)
9. Gerben de Knegt (Rabobank)
10. Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP)

Superprestige standings after three from eight races:

1. Niels Albert (BKPC)                                    44 points
2. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet)                   42
3. Zdenek Stybar (Fidea)                                40
4. Klaas Vantornout                                         33
5. Kevin Pauwels (Fidea)                               30

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