Albert targeting overall victory in cross World Cup
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Albert targeting overall victory in cross World Cup

by Shane Stokes at 6:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Belgian rider takes over series lead with fine win in Igorre

Niels AlbertHaving won the third round of the World Cup series last Saturday in Koksijde, Niels Albert moved into a clear lead with another fine triumph yesterday in Igorre. The 24 year old former world champion was in strong form, catching early leader Francis Mourey (FDJ), then dropping the Frenchman and pulling further ahead. He finally hit the line 17 seconds clear of Mourey, with everyone from fifth place back being at least a minute behind.

Previous series leader Zdenek Stybar (Telenet Fidea) was unable to take part due to ongoing knee problems, and has been ruled out of competition until Christmas. Albert’s victory moved him well clear in the standings, the BKCP-Powerplus rider ending the day 59 points ahead of compatriot Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea), and 65 ahead of the injured Czech competitor.

Providing he can keep up his momentum, he is looking good at this halfway point of the competition.

“I have a tough week of training behind me. My legs were not 100 percent, but it was enough for victory. I'm satisfied,” he told Sporza, adding that he really liked the course.

“With those tracks in the mud was difficult for competitors to catch up. That’s why I chose [to race in] the lead. It was fun.”

His season has been the opposite to that of Stybar, who started very strongly but then faded due to problems. Albert had it the other way round, struggling with an injury early on before getting stronger and stronger. “That is why the World Cup is so important to me,” he said, referring to the lost chances earlier on. “It was the only ranking [competition] that still seemed feasible. In Igorre I have done a beautiful thing. It's unfortunate that Zdenek Stybar is out of the battle; now I am in charge and I'm well ahead of Kevin Pauwels.”

Sven Nys is another who started the season slowly and who has build up since then. He was training elsewhere in Spain, but got stranded due to the strike by the air traffic controllers there. The Belgian had been lying fourth in the World Cup and got a private jet from Majorca to take part in the race. Despite finishing third, he actually dropped a place in the overall standings yesterday, crossing the line 39 seconds behind Albert and 22 off the time of Mourey

However he’s got a longer-term plan and said he was satisfied with how things went. “I am pleased with third place with that, I did not expect much more,” Nys said. “I have good foundation within me, but no turbo. This has nothing to do with the trip to Igorre, but with the work I've done in recent weeks. I'm working on my fitness for the important Christmas period.”

Mourey improved from fifth overall to fourth, but his ambitions lie elsewhere. “A podium finish at the world championship in St. Wendel is my big goal this season.”

The next rounds of the World Cup are both in Belgium, with Kalmthout on December 19th being followed one week later by the race at Heusden-Zolder. Stybar is due to come back after those two, but will surely be well out of contention at that point.


Elite Men’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup

Round 4, Igorre, Spain:

1, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) 1 hour 6 mins 43 secs
2, Francis Mourey (FDJ) at 17 secs
3, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) at 39 secs
4, Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) at 55 secs
5, Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) at 1 min 7 secs
6, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) at 1 min mins 33 secs
7, Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team) at 1 min 48 secs
8, Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team) at 1 min 49 secs
9, Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) at 2 mins 11 secs
10, Christian Heule (Champion System LBS) at 2 mins 17 secs

Standings after 4 rounds:

1, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) 295 points
2, Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) 236
3, Zdenek Štybar (Telenet-Fidea) 230
4, Francis Mourey (FDJ) 230
5, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) 229
6, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) 197
7, Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team) 193
8, Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) 181
9, Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team) 174
10, Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) 167


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