Niels Albert: “Broken rib cost me money and form”
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Niels Albert: “Broken rib cost me money and form”

by Ben Atkins at 11:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 

The accident that brought down Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in the previous weekend’s Belgian Championships is still being felt, as the World Champion was forced to resort to painkillers in order to ride yesterday’s World Cup race in Roubaix, France.

"After half an hour the injection worked for my broken rib," Albert told Het Nieuwsblad.

It began to wear off as the race went on though, but the 23-year-old insisted that it was manageable. "The pain was not unbearable," he said.

Albert started the race in his characteristically strong manner, staying with the frontrunners for much of the race around the iconic Roubaix Velodrome. In the later stages though a number of handling errors in the sticky mud saw him lose a number of places and he slumped to a seasons worst result of eighth. Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) took the win and the World Cup lead.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) has been a rival to Albert for the entire season so far – although a failure to finish in the World Cup’s first round in Treviso, Italy meant he mounted no challenge in the competition he has won for the past four successive occasions (it was not awarded in 2007-08). The Belgian Champion watched Albert’s race unravel before his eyes, as he told Het Nieuwsblad.

"You could see the doubt creeping into his head, lap after lap,” said Nys. “As his main competitor [Stybar – ed] attacked he completely collapsed mentally. That is the difference with Albert in October. When he was in top form, had it never happened."

Race winner, and season-long World Cup rival Stybar also saw Albert’s problem as being “mental rather than physical.”

Albert won the first three rounds of this season’s World Cup and had led the competition ever since. His eighth place in Roubaix though – and the victory of chief rival Stybar – sees him relinquish the lead with just one round remaining. Coming into Roubaix he led Stybar by 20 points, he now trails him by 14 heading to Hoogerheide and seems resigned to defeat despite the venue being the one where he took his World title last year.

It’s not just the competition that he sees that the injury has cost him, or the money that would have come with it, but also the chance to retain his rainbow jersey in Tabor, Czech Republic in two weeks time.

"I’ve not only lost the World Cup and a lot of money,” he said, “but also the good feeling that is so critical in January. I am glad that I have one week in Benicasim [Spain] and can leave it all behind me.

“Will I still be good for the Worlds? Pffff. We’ll see," he shrugged.

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