During the past two weeks Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was the focus of criticism in his native Belgium. First it was Roger De Vlaeminck who hit out at Albert during the presentation of the Superprestige series. The former cyclo-cross world champion and 4-time winner of Paris-Roubaix felt Albert didn't quite dedicate himself to the sport like living cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) did.
One week later during the presentation of the Landbouwkrediet team Nys hinted that Albert was less of a specialist as him when it came down to technical skills and power. Nys also said it wasn't a good idea for Albert to put all his attention on the world championships.
Albert answered the criticism with his pedals by winning the first major cyclo-cross clash of the season during the first round of the Superprestige series in Ruddervoorde, Belgium.
"I've never won here and despite being considered by some as technically weaker I proved myself today," Albert said. The course in Ruddervoorde was a demanding one with multiple muddy stretches, short steep climbs, a pavé-section and a long sand section.
Right after the race De Vlaeminck was on the phone with tv-channel VT4. "I admit that I made a mistake and apologize to Niels," said De Vlaeminck. "I do think that I motivated him. I want to see duels in cyclo-cross and in Ruddervoorde we saw a great race. With Niels the best rider has won."
Albert couldn't be bothered by the whole situation. "I'm not losing any sleep lately. I'm not riding for Roger," Albert said.
Concerning the remark from Nys about the focus on the world championships Albert didn't agree. "I've never said that I would focus solely on the world championships. For example, today I could've held back and finished second or third but I didn't do it."