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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Date published:
January 04, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Albert's morale shines brightly in Diegem

    Niels Albert (BKCP - Powerplus) won the Superprestige Diegem for the second straight year.
    Article published:
    December 27, 2010, 20:57 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Finds form with national championships two weeks away

    After his win in the floodlights of Diegem on Monday evening Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was back on the top step of the podium and with his morale sky high again.

    And it seems the 24-year-old Belgian has reached top form at just the right time with races coming thick and fast in the next few days and the national championships less than two weeks away.

    “Bring on the championships,” a smiling Albert said. “I checked the weather forecast on and it seems like the weather's changing in my favour.”

    Higher temperatures could turn the courses at the upcoming races into mud-fests and that's when Albert's big engine comes in handy. After his win in Diegem it seemed like the former world champion picked up something that should lead him to even more victories in the future but he’s not ready to share his secret just yet.

    “Yesterday I showed that I can perform in the snow and today I did the same on ice. Nys is indisputably the best rider on ice and I was able to win from him. Technically he was slightly better but on the pavement I had the upper hand. I've learned something today,”

    “The other day somebody asked me for an interview to talk about tactics and training methods but I'm not doing that. I didn't listen a lot to what my parents said but if there's one thing I remember then it's this: don't tell anybody what you've learned because the competitors are listening along,” Albert said.

    Albert's start of the season was ruined by a knee injury but he quickly returned to form. Nevertheless winning seemed difficult as he always got blocked by world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) or Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). Albert capped his first win of the season in the World Cup round in Koksijde, notching up another victory one week later in Igorre, Spain. Despite these wins a strong performing Nys kept him from winning in the last few...

  • Danish 'cross champion gets bike back

    Joachim Parbo (Leopard Cycles) running with classic cyclocross form.
    Article published:
    December 28, 2010, 14:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fan rode off on bike after Sunday's cyclo-cross race

    Joachim Parbo has had his cyclo-cross bike returned after a fan rode away with in on Sunday after the World Cup race in Zolder, Belgium.

    The Danish 'cross champion said he routinely let fans take a spin on his bike at races. His good deed to the fans didn't work out this weekend though, as the man failed to return with the bike.

    He described the man as a 30-year-old, weighing 100 kilograms and wearing his hair in a ponytail.

    Parbo reported the theft to Belgian police on Sunday. They followed up on a tip received and recovered the Leopard Cycles JPX Prototype bike at the perpetrator's home.

    Parbo did not say whether he would continue to lend out his bike in the future.

  • Nys's bad luck streak continues in Loenhout

    Article published:
    December 29, 2010, 20:15 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian champion's mechanic Wouters in the spotlight

    The buzz of the day after the Azencross in Loenhout, Belgium was the last lap crash of Belgian champion Sven Nys. While heading for a two-man sprint with Niels Albert in the fifth round of the GVA Trophy Nys entered the pit to take a new bike. A few seconds later Nys was on the ground and missed out on a chance of victory in Loenhout. Murphy's Law has been striking the Nys camp for over a month now.

    Sven Nys explained why he felt the need to take a new bike during the last half lap of the race. "It was communicated that I would take a new bike with more air in the tubulars if Niels and I were still together in the last lap. When entering the pit area I was surprised to see that they were standing halfway because we agreed on changing bikes at the end of the pit. You didn't lose much time there because you were already in the corner," Nys said.

    What happened then was analysed by triple cyclo-cross world champion Erwin Vervecken. "Nys was still clicked into his pedal with one foot while holding his hands on to the handlebars. At that moment his mechanic takes the bike and pulls it away while he's still on it. It never happened to me but that's what happens when you're racing under high pressure," Vervecken said.

    Nys was not amused by the incident but was also worried about his mechanic Fons Wouters. "The run of bad luck doesn't seem to come to an end. It's becoming a bit too much and Fons was probably hyper-nervous. He has done everything for me during the last 15 years, offering up all his holidays. He will not be able to sleep after this but I don't blame him.

    "Too much has happened and we're currently working under high pressure. You can imagine how the morale is with the mechanics. I'm worried that they will tell me that they're pulling out for a couple of weeks. This is an annoying moment. I went down pretty hard and now I'm left with good legs and two weeks without a victory. I was feeling confident that I would win the...

  • Stybar returns to 'cross physically fresh, mentally tired

    World champion Zdenek Štybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) is battling back into form.
    Article published:
    December 29, 2010, 22:02 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Czech seeks move to Quick Step

    The return of world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) to cyclo-cross hasn't gone unnoticed. After being out of competition for a month due to a knee injury the Czech made his comeback in Diegem on Monday evening. Stybar finished third at a respectable distance behind winner Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and unlucky runner-up Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). Two days later in Loenhout the podium and race summary were repeated.

    "I'm satisfied to be on the podium two times in a row," Stybar said. "I was a bit unlucky with a flat tyre but I made too many mistakes anyway. That's not illogical after a month without competition. Also, today there was a lot of cold water on my knee and that's the worst thing that could happen."

    Back in 2008 Niels Albert had been out due to an injury during the first half of the season, making his return in Zolder by the end of December. Afterwards he went on to win the world championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands. This year Stybar seems to be in a similar situation as the Belgian two years ago and it could benefit the Czech ahead of the world championships in Sankt-Wendel, Germany.

    "Of course I want to keep the jersey but my world will not collapse if I don't keep it. I don't want to put pressure on myself. I already won a lot this season and now I'm on the podium again. I'm just enjoying to be back in the races where I belong. One might think it's stupid but actually it's unique to be at the start of a cyclo-cross race," Stybar said.

    According to teammate Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), however, it will be hard for Stybar to perform well. "To me his injury doesn't seem to be a bonus for the world championships. He's lacking the base form that we have now. This makes it hard to deal with the heavy training blocks.

    "In Diegem I noticed he lacked technical skills. He'll also have to work hard to hold his podium positions in the series. He's got to prove himself and mentally it can't be easy....

  • Boom suffers severe bruising from 'cross crash

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) runs the stairs.
    Article published:
    January 02, 2011, 10:37 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Title defence in nationals in doubt for Rabobank rider

    A nasty crash for Lars Boom (Rabobank) in the GP Sven Nys cyclo-cross race could rule him out of the national 'cross championships this coming weekend.

    Boom was leading the race in Baal, Belgium, when he crashed on a muddy descent. He fell hard with his hip against the barrier.

    “I know my body well enough to feel that something is not right,” he told De Telegraaf after the race. “Hopefully this will not affect my preparations for the road season, but right now I am afraid of that.”

    However, an exam later in the day at the hospital in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, showed that nothing had been fractured. He has extensive bruising on his lower back, with doctors recommending several days of complete rest.

    That would endanger his participation in the national championships in St. Michielsgestel next Sunday, where he had hoped to defend his title.

  • Nys voted Cyclingnews Male Cyclo-Cross Rider of the Year

    Sven Nys moves up through the field in Tervuren
    Article published:
    January 03, 2011, 19:49 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Belgian champion bests Stybar for number one 'cross racer

    The 2010-2011 season for Belgian 'cross legend Sven Nys was plagued by frustration, but that didn't stop him earning the number one spot in the Cyclingnews' 2010 reader poll for best male cyclo-cross rider by a large margin over reigning world champion Zdenek Stybar, 6701 to 3802 votes.

    Nys started out 2010 mid-way through the 2009-2010 season, winning his self-named GVA Trophy race before going on to win his seventh career national 'cross title. All in all he scored 14 wins last season, but fell short in his bid to earn the second rainbow jersey of his storied career on an icy course in Tabor, Czech Republic.

    The 2010-2011 season started slowly for Nys, who took two minor race wins in September before going winless the entire month of October, while at the same time Stybar was dominating with seven straight victories. Nys rebounded in November, racking up eight victories in the past two months, but is still searching for his first World Cup win this season.

    Despite all this, our readers still consider Nys to be the best 'cross racer and perhaps with all the mechanical problems and tough luck he's had so far this season, he can continue to show why he's so respected by the fans and gain the rainbow bands.

    Former world champion Niels Albert took the third spot after a consistently good but not spectacular season. He edged out US 'cross stand-out Jeremy Powers for the final podium spot, while Powers' teammate Tim Johnson was a close fifth.

    Cyclingnews Reader Poll results - Best male cyclo-cross racer
    Sven Nys, 6701 (39.9%)
    Zdenek Stybar, 3802 (22.6%)
    Niels Albert, 1233 (7.3%)
    Jeremy Powers, 1198 (7.1%)
    Tim Johnson, 1134 (6.8%)
    Jonathan Page, 759 (4.5%)
    Ryan Trebon, 473 (2.8%)
    Kevin Pauwels, 390 (2.3%)
    Bart Aernouts, ...

  • Compton voted Cyclingnews Female Cyclo-cross Rider of the Year

    Katie Compton (Planet Bike) moves into the World Cup lead.
    Article published:
    January 03, 2011, 21:23 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    American champion dominates reader poll

    Katie Compton achieved many great things in the second half of 2010 - her seventh consecutive US national cyclo-cross title, wins in all but one cyclo-cross race she started including four World Cups - Aigle, Koksijde, Kalmthout and Zolder, and the lead in both the UCI rankings and World Cup standings. She's been so dominant during the 2010-2011 season so far that it's hard to argue that she doesn't deserve the title of best female cyclo-cross rider, and our readers agreed.

    "Wow! That is always a fun thing to win, especially since I am up against some stiff competition," Compton told Cyclingnews. "I'm honored to know I have so many cyclo-cross fans and supporters out there. Thanks to everyone who voted for me!"

    Will the solid results so far translate into gaining that elusive world championship? Compton has been extremely selective about her race schedule this year in the hope of avoiding the devastating physical problems that ruined her start to 2010. Last January she pulled out of the Roubaix World Cup, did not start in Hoogerheide and failed to finish the Worlds in Tabor, all due to leg cramps – a problem she seems to have so far avoided this season.

    Few have been able to match Compton's power, grace and tenacity on the 'cross circuit this season, but two of the sport's top names, Marianne Vos and Hanka Kupfernagel, are only now coming into form.

    Vos, second in our reader poll, claimed 3083 votes to Compton's 5893 due to a relatively low profile on the 'cross circuit. The multi-talented 24-year-old reigning world champion delayed her start to the season in order to compete in the Melbourne Track World Cup, but quickly got back up to speed placing second in the Scheldecross and Kalmthout and Zolder World Cups before finally raising her arms in victory at the GVA Trofee Azencross.

    The Dutch rider used a similar season plan before gaining her third rainbow jersey in early 2010, and remains a force to be...

  • Wellens questionable for Belgian 'cross championships

    Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) on his way to third place
    Article published:
    January 04, 2011, 15:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Both knees swollen and bruised after crash on Sunday

    Bart Wellens will decide on Wednesday whether he will ride the Belgian national cyclo-cross championship this coming Sunday. A crash in last weekend's race in Tervuren left him with injuries to both knees.

    The 32-year-old Belgian spent time Monday with his doctor and physiotherapist, and rode for two hours without problem, but emphasised that it was still too early to tell.

    "I will wait. Wednesday we will know more," Wellens told the Belga press agency.

    "The injuries could have been a lot worse, but they should not be so bad now as they are. My two knees are only blue, but still very swollen, the right one even a bit more than the left one.

    "There is also fluid, but only a negligible amount. It doesn't have to be drained. The natural healing process will take care of it."

    He concluded his litany of woes by saying, "I feel very stiff and rigid, both my knees and in my shoulders."

    Wellens is not getting any special treatment, only ensuring that things don't get worse. "It's not easy, but I keep on training."