Defending champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) has accepted his defeat at the hands of Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) in the 2012 Belgian national cyclo-cross championships with good grace. Despite a good start in Hooglede, Albert was then blown backwards by veteran Nys, who outclassed the opposition on the 2007 world championships course. What remains for resigning Belgian champion Albert are the world championships in Koksijde at the end of January.
“Sven was the strongest today. That’s how it works in a race. The best would win today on a course like this and that was Sven today,” Albert said. “I soon realized that Sven was the best of us. Once he had a gap I could hang on for two laps. Then I cracked and I realized I was riding for second place.”
Before the race Albert hinted that Nys’ reported back problems would not have been serious. Nys had earlier criticized some riders for not taking part in the cross in Leuven due to minor illnesses, but after the race Albert paid tribute to Nys' medical team. “I’ve never said that I doubted his injuries. I’ve also had something in my back when picking up a stupid plastic bag. Credit to his team for getting him back in shape so fast because that’s not easy,” Albert said.
After a wrist injury halfway November Albert was out of competition for four weeks. Two weeks ago a lung infection bothered him and to fight that he took antibiotics. That might have effected Albert in his mud fight with Nys on Sunday afternoon. “I’ve been out for four weeks but today I came here to win the race. If you don’t do that then you’re beaten before the race starts. I knew what I’ve done to be at the start in the best possible shape. I’m disappointed, but on the other hand I realize why I was beaten. My illness? I will not say that I was ill to death but I took antibiotics. I never feared that I wouldn’t be able to perform over here and I will not blame it either. I had a good day but somebody was better than me,” Albert said.
Due to his injury and illness Albert might feel the need to somewhat save his season with a big win, like grabbing gold at the cyclo-cross world championships in Koksijde. “Fans want me to save my season, but my team knows that I give everything every day. It would be good to take the title and otherwise I will be disappointed. Then again, if I’m beaten by someone who’s better than me like a good Nys or a good Stybar then that’s the way it is. In one hour a lot can happen but it’s also the hours, the weeks before the race which are decisive,” Albert concluded.