Niels Albert wins exciting race as Zdenek Stybar keeps World Cup
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Albert wins exciting race as Stybar keeps World Cup

by Bjorn Haake at 10:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results

One year after Niels Albert won the Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide he returned to the Dutch site to win the final round of the World Cup, his fourth victory in the competition. After an exciting hour-long battle, he left Fidea riders Zdenek Stybar and Kevin Pauwels behind. But Stybar's second place ensured him the World Cup victory with a margin of just four points over Albert.

Albert crossed the line, pointing to his World Championships jersey that he won in February 2009 at the same venue. "I am very happy with my race today," he said on Belgian TV after the race. "I had a bad start, I think I was around 45th. Then, I went full gas." But it showed he also had some regrets about his race in Roubaix last week. "I lost the World Cup and that is disappointing."

The 14-point lead of Stybar meant that even if Albert would win, a second place was enough for Stybar to take the overall. Mid-way through the race, things looked better for Albert, though, who led the race with Sven Nys, ahead of Stybar and Pauwels. But suddenly, Nys dropped back. "I was surprised that Sven couldn't hold on. I thought an acceleration would suit him. This would have increased my World Cup chances. I guess he was a bit tired from yesterday's race. That is a pity for me, but that's racing." Nys was the only top rider who decided to race in Zonnebeke yesterday.

Albert was just happy that his rib is healing well and that his training worked out. "The training camp in Spain did me some good. It is too bad I lost the World Cup in Roubaix, but that meant I could start without stress today."

There is also no pressure on Albert at the Worlds in Tabor, Czech Republic, next week. "Zdenek is the big favorite. I have no stress, since I already won the Worlds last year."

Stybar for his part was quite tired after having to react to Albert's relentless attacks today. "Right now I feel a lot of pain. It was a hard race on a difficult parcours and Albert was very strong. It was a big difference to last week in Roubaix."

Once he, Albert and Pauwels were away, things looked better in terms of taking the overall. Pauwels just needed to ensure that he lets Stybar get ahead of him at the finish. "Today I didn't feel so great, " Stybar said. "I have to thank Kevin. I needed to finish second to win the World Cup. I owe him a bottle of champagne now."

Nys came in fifth. "I wasn't able to do more today, I gave everything." With the World Cup out of reach and having won the Zonnebeke race yesterday, he also didn't seem to be quite as motivated.

Jonathan Page had a great race, was in the group with Nys for a while and ended the day in eighth place.

Albert's bad start puts Stybar ahead

In the first lap a large group with more than a dozen riders formed around Nys, with, among others, Klaas Vantornout, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Stybar, Pauwels and Jonathan Page. Those were the riders who had a good start, and a few favorites were absent, notably Sven Vanthourenhout, Bart Wellens and Albert.

Nys put the pressure on so that the front group stretched out in the second lap. But when Stybar noticed that Albert was far behind, he took over the front, in order to keep his World Cup lead intact. Albert did an impressive intermediate sprint to reach the tail end of the stretched out front group, but that still left him half a dozen seconds behind Stybar.

Just as Albert was part of the group, Stybar rolled off the front. But by the end of the third lap, Stybar was caught and Albert close by. In fact, the Belgian attacked as soon as the off-road section was reached again.

Nys reacted, but Stybar had a hard time following the two Belgians. Stybar was accompanied by Pauwels, Vantornout and De Knegt. Page and Vervecken were also still within ten seconds.

Albert accelerated so hard that he dropped Nys, who returned to the chase group. The latter was still pulled hard by Stybar.

Ahead, Albert pulled and the Fideas Stybar and Pauwels, stayed put. Pauwels literally dropped off the front group, when he slipped away in a left-hand bend.

With about a lap and a half to go, Pauwels was back. Stybar seemed to be nervous that his teammate would mess things up, so the Czech rider accelerated. An interesting mano-a-mano - literally - with Albert ensued. Sometimes the lead changed twice in-between the straights and a couple of the tight turns they took together. After a small steering mistake by Stybar, Albert pulled away and emerged as the victor of the Belgian-Czech battle, but couldn't win the war.

Results men

1 Niels Albert 1h02'37
2 Zdenek Stybar 0'07
3 Kevin Pauwels
4 Klaas Vantornout 0'42
5 Sven Nys 0'49
6 Erwin Vervecken 0'52
7 Gerben de Knegt 0'55
8 Jonathan Page 1'06
9 Bart Aernouts 1'22
10 Radomir Simunek 1'29

Final World Cup standings

1 Zdenek Stybar 635 points
2 Niels Albert 631
3 Sven Nys 535
4 Klaas Vantornout517
5 Kevin Pauwels 440
6 Gerben De Knegt 428
7 Bart Aernouts 399
8 Erwin Vervecken 376
9 Francis Mourey 366
10 Christian Heule 350
11 Enrico Franzoi 345
18 Jonathan Page 269

Meeusen beaten

In the last World Cup race of the season, Tom Meeusen showed he was human and was beaten by his Fidea teammate Kacper Szczepaniak. Szczepaniak reached the finish nine seconds ahead of Meeusen and 11 seconds ahead of Arnaud Jouffroy. Belgian Kenneth Van Compernolle finished fourth, 13 seconds down.

The overall win of Meeusen was not endangered. He had a comfortable 70-point margin over second-placed Robert Gavenda (180 points). Frenchman Jouffroy ended in third place, with 164 points.

Results U23

1  Kacper Szczepaniak        48'36
2  Tom Meeusen              0'09
3  Arnaud Jouffroy          0'11
4  Kenneth Van Compernolle    0'13
5  Marek Konwa              0'20
6  Tijmen Eising          0'36
7  Joeri Adams              0'38
8  Jim Aernouts              0'38
9  Micki Van Empel          0'39
10 Pawel Szczepaniak          0'45

Final World Cup standings

1  Tom Meeusen           250 points
2  Robert Gavenda     180
3  Arnaud Jouffroy     164
4  Tijmen Eising     162
5  Pawel Szczepaniak     131
6  Micki Van Empel     124
7  Jim Aernouts         120
8  Marek Konwa         117
9  Joeri Adams         114
10 Cristian Cominelli     112

Vos wins race, Van den Brand World Cup

Marianne Vos won the final women's World Cup race in Hoogerheide, ahead of Sanne van Paassen and Daphny van den Brand. With the podium placing, Van den Brand secured the World Cup title.

Results women

1  Marianne Vos                 39'55
2  Sanne Van Paassen         0'33
3  Daphny Van Den Brand         0'37
4  Katerina Nash         0'47
5  Hanka Kupfernagel         0'47
6  Eva Lechner             1'10
7  Caroline Mani         1'22
8  Elisabeth Brandau         1'32
9  Amy Dombroski         1'38
10 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau     1'46

Final World Cup standings

1  Daphny Van Den Brand         330 points
2  Marianne Vos            325
3  Sanne Van Paassen        268
4  Katherine Compton        260
5  Hanka Kupfernagel        235
6  Christel Ferrier-Bruneau    203
7  Caroline Mani        184
8  Sanne Cant            176
9  Katerina Nash        135
10 Pavla Havlikova        131


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