Albert ahead of Nys this time
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Albert ahead of Nys this time

by Bjorn Haake at 11:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results

Niels Albert used an impressive start to grab the top spot in the Gazet van Antwerp (GvA) race in Essen, Belgium, today. His eternal rival Sven Nys finished second, thanks to an impressive final part of the race, where he almost caught up with Albert again. Zdenek Stybar had to settle for third, while Kevin Pauwels finished in fourth, after a race where he showed off his technical skills.

Albert was very relieved at the finish. "I had a good start and was able to ride from the front. The last two laps started to get hard, but fortunately I was able to pull it off." Albert was seen getting his feet worked on after the race, with towel and some warm water. "My feet were terribly cold during the race," he said on Belgian TV.

Nys on the other had regretted the shortness of the race. "The last lap I sat really well on my bike and I would have loved to do a few more laps." He was having a bit of a hard time midway through the race. "At the sprint it was a bit hard for me, I had to pace myself. But coming back from a 30-second deficit to two or three seconds is pretty good."

Stybar praised Albert for his start. "He was really fast in the first two, three laps. I didn't have a great day today." But his wins have him made a little more popular now in Belgium. "It was really good to hear my name all along the course."

Albert sprinted out to a good start, and he and Nys quickly gained a few seconds over the rest. But it was the muddy climb that ensured they didn't get away too far. Both Albert and Nys had to get off there a few times, whereas Pauwels elegantly rode up the short, steep pitch. Stybar also had to get off a few times, but in general was handling himself very well here.

Albert admitted having problems. "When I rode it in training, I was doing fine. But especially in the end I took the wrong line."

Intermediate sprint kicks off action

At the intermediate sprint for three points, Albert accelerated hard and opened a nice gap over his three chasers Nys, Pauwels and Stybar.

Later, Pauwels and Stybar used their superior skills up the muddy pitch to drop Nys. However, Pauwels' descending wasn't up to par, and when he went over his handle bars, it allowed Nys to return and later escape with Stybar. Nys then dropped Stybar and even came close to catching Albert.

Albert had an 11-second lead over Nys going into the final lap, 18 seconds over Stybar. Nys came within five seconds and cut another second on the muddy uphill close to the finish. But when Nys was within three seconds, Albert hit the pavement - Nys understood the race was over and rolled in easy.

In the GvA trophy, Albert's lead is now seven points. "It is looking really good, as most of the remaining four races should suit my characteristics very well." Nys admitted that the large gap "is not good, but the overall is not decided yet."


1. Niels Albert (Bel)                           1h02'16"
2. Sven Nys (Bel)                                         10"
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze)                               32"
4. Kevin Pauwels (Bel)
5. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)              2'03"
6. Bart Aernouts (Bel)                              2'08"
7. Radomir Simunek (Cze)                    2'12"
8. Enrico Franzoi (Ita)                              2'35"
9. Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)                 2'41"
10. Gerben de Knegt (Ned)                   2'51"
11. Erwin Vervecken (Bel)
12. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)
13. Rob Peeters (Bel)
14. Ben Berden (Bel)
15. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)

GvA Standings after four from eight races

1 (1) Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)                                   98 points
2 (2) Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                       91
3 (3) Zdenek Stybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)          86
4 (5) Kevin Pauwels (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)         71
5 (6) Bart Aernouts (Rabobank Continental Team)          61
6 (4) Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Projob)                            61
7 (7) Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank Continental Team)   50
8 (8) Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus)              49
9 (9) Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus)                      43
10 (11) Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas)                                         35




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