There were no real surprises on the second day of the Cyclo-cross World Championships in snowy St. Wendel, Germany, as both the women's and men's races were taken out by the favourites. In the elite women's event, Germany's Hanka Kupfernagel won her third World Championship, beating compatriot Sabine Spitz and fast-finishing Dutchwoman Mirjam Melchers in an impressive display of solo power.
In the men's race, Belgian Sven Nys finally crowned his cyclo-cross career with a strong win over Erwin Vervecken, who pushed him all the way to the finish. Nys' Rabobank trade teammate Sven Vanthourenhout was third, meaning that Belgium took out all three medals in the elite men's race and finished in equal first place on the medals table with Germany.
Sven Nys was delighted with his victory, saying that he would come back to Germany for the rest of his life as he has always had good luck there. Vervecken was the only one who could really stay with Nys and somewhat disappointed that he couldn't repeat his victory of 2001, while Vanthourenhout was very happy with Nys' win, as he had worked hard to ensure it.
Although Nys said that "none of the riders begrudged me this title", defending champion Bart Wellens was annoyed with the way Vanthourenhout rode. Wellens finished back in 21st place, over two minutes down on the winner. "One man messed up my race and that is Sven Vanthourenhout," said Wellens to VRT. "On the third lap I was following behind Nys, until Vanthourenhout knocked me off his wheel. I broke my chain because of that and lost 30 to 40 seconds...But I'm certainly not disappointed. I fought until two laps to go. But then I gave up the ghost. I gave everything. Only the manner of which..."
Vanthourenhout countered Wellens' accusations. "Bart wanted to knock me off the course, not the other way round," said Vanthourenhout. "I never touched him. Trust me, I saw nothing. Ach, Bart just realised that he has really lost his world title."
Overall, it was a solid performance from the Belgians who had missed out in all the other races. National coach Rudy De Bie was proud, saying that he didn't really care which of his riders won. "It's logical that Nys was rewarded for his beautiful season. But the finish was really a thriller."
Regarding the Wellens incident, De Bie commented. "Well, Bart could definitely have ridden at the front. But whether he could have fought for the title, that I don't know."