'Cross worlds round-up

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hooglede-Gits Two races were scheduled on Saturday at the worlds in...

Adams victorious, Summerhill a surprise second

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hooglede-Gits

Two races were scheduled on Saturday at the worlds in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium: the junior and U23 men were to battle for the world title. The low countries of the Netherlands and Belgium have been dominating the cyclo-cross worlds lately, and 15,000 spectators showed up to watch their young stars shine.

The junior race is always unpredictable at worlds because the young men don't compete with each other often during the season, but the Belgian World Cup winner fully met expectations when he became the new world champion. Six riders remained in contention going into the ultimate lap. Eventually, it came down to a sprint in which Joeri Adams clinched the biggest win of his young career.

Most spectators were surprised to see American rider Danny Summerhill finish second. By claiming a medal at the cyclo-cross worlds, Summerhill follows in the steps of Walker Ferguson (silver in 2000) and Matthew Kelly (gold in 1999). Ferguson and Kelly battled with Belgians Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb), guys who will both race Sunday in the elite men's category, unlike those two American heros themselves, who have disappeared from the scene. Summerhill has proven that he has talent, but the real work of his career is just beginning.

To read the full report and results for the junior race and see photos, click here.

Boom takes the reins

The U23 race was dominated by Dutchman Lars Boom (Rabobank) who outclassed his competition. Leading up to the race, Boom and rival Niels Albert (Palmans) kept a media battle going in which they tried to make each other nervous. However, Albert finished nowhere near the wheels of Boom; in fact, he was over a minute down. The Dutch champion said he would compete in more cyclo-cross races from now on, while Albert promised to win the title next year. No American riders anywhere near the front on Saturday afternoon, with Jamey Mullet Driscoll first American in 36th position.

On Sunday, the elite riders will compete in Hooglede-Gits. German champion Hanka Kupfernagel is the favourite in the women's race, and Sven Nys (Rabobank) tops the favourites list in the men's race.

To read the full report and results for the U23 race and see photos, click here.

Mourey out of worlds after crash during training

One outsider for the victory in the men's race is out of contention. Francis Mourey (fdjeux.com) fell on his head during a training session on Friday afternoon as reported yesterday. The number three at the worlds in Zeddam (2006) was brought over to hospital where they determined Mourey suffered a minor concussion and a wound above his eye. He left the hospital, but will certainly not compete Sunday.

Salvetat surprises in Belgium

In a major surprise in the women's race, German Hanka Kupfernagel was unable to convert her pre-race favourite status into a world title while Maryline Salvetat nailed an unexpected win. Kupfernagel had a great start, but halfway through the race she suffered a pedal-related mechanical and then dropped back from the lead. Defending champion Marianne Vos from The Netherlands was never in contention for the title either, and when her compatriot Daphny Van Den Brand crashed, it was clear an outsider would grab the title.

US national champion Katie Compton came close to the win, but faced an unfair battle against two French ladies. Laurence Leboucher dropped the pace while riding in second position thereby forcing Compton to close the gap in the final moments of the race. Compton made a valiant effort, but could not regain the wheel of Salvetat before the final straight. An emotional Salvetat won the gold in front of Compton and compatriot Leboucher.

"I had a bad start as an Italian girl blocked the road. It took me more than a lap to come back. I only started to believe in my chances when there was only 400 metres to go. I didn't raise my hands as I didn't know where Compton was, but I can assure you that I'm really excited," Salvetat said.

Tomorrow the newly crowned world champion drops back into the real world though as a day at the office awaits, Salvetat works as an osteopath. Last year, the 32-year-old almost decided to quit racing but luckily a visit to Africa gave her a revived view of the sport. "I arrived here with a mind to do well. I had energy and form," she said.

The French women exploited their numerical advance to keep Compton from the victory. "Actually we didn't talk before the race, we know each other so well that everything automatically happens," Salvetat explained.

To read the full report and results for the women's race and see photos, click here.

Vervecken gets three, favorites unlucky

About 30,000 spectators witnessed a tumultuous world championship at the "Domenico Savio" park in Hooglede-Gits. Defending world champion Erwin Vervecken extended his world title this afternoon. After taking third in 1994, he managed five more podium results since then and now is on top of the world again.

"It was a very, very special race as so many things happened; to me, it was just like a movie or a dream," Vervecken said.

With this win, the 34-year-old Belgian makes up for a troubled season where he grabbed only one major victory at the World Cup in Hofstade. He has again proved himself a great championship rider. "I don't like that term, but I can understand it; I don't win a lot, but I can't help it that the favourites often fail at the championships," Vervecken said.

"This is the most hard-won title of the three, winning it at home adds to that of course. It was a very special atmosphere today; during the ultimate hundred metres I couldn't hear anything like being in a disco! I didn't have a clue where Page was," Vervecken described the hectic final and his rival there. "He had a troubled season but he's fresh. I did 40 races and that makes a big difference."

Big favourites Sven Nys (Bel) and Bart Wellens (Bel) were set back by pure bad luck. While riding in the lead, the duo were brought down by a plastic block that was touched and knocked over by the TV quad. Both continued the race, but while Wellens fought back to reach fourth, Nys' bad luck continued; he finished eleventh.

With many favourites out of contention for the world title, the outsiders stepped up. At first, it was former world champion Richard Groenendaal (Ned) who took the initiative, but he crashed out as well. Italian champion Franzoi then stormed forward together with former US national champion Jonathan Page (USA). While Franzoi couldn't keep the pace of the American, Vervecken pushed ahead.

In a tense final lap, it was Vervecken who entered the final straight with a little gap. Page took the silver medal and headed for the arms of wife Cori and young daughter Emma. The 30-year-old American, who lives in Belgium near Oudenaarde, was delighted although he started off cynical when describing his performance.

"I thought I was okay today," Page smiled. "This is the start of my future today, so I'll be around for a few more years." The US rider battled for victory, but came a little short in the end. "I hoped to win gold, but it all came down to the last little hill where he had a good run and I didn't."

To read the full report and results for the men's race and see photos, click here.

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