By Brecht Decaluwé
The cyclo-cross peloton moved to the North of Spain for the fourth World Cup. The ziklo krosa in Igorreko – birthplace of Iban Mayo – offered the riders an extremely muddy course in dry and sunny weather conditions.
Local riders like Oscar Vazquez, Unai Yus and Isaac Suarez were hoping for a good performance against the mainly Belgian opposition. Despite the transfer south, however the usual protagonists' names didn't change a bit in the race.
French champion Francis Mourey surprised the Belgians from the start, and comfortably led the race until a mechanical at an extremely bad moment left him without a chance for the win; the unlucky French champion eventually finished seventh in Igorre.
Due to Mourey's broken derailleur, UCI-leader Sven Nys and Belgian champion Bart Wellens were suddenly offered the lead and they battled it out for the win in Spain. With less than one kilometre to go, Wellens heard his derailleur break as well, and so last year's winner, Nys, was essentially gifted the win. Wellens was lucky to stay in second place and held off team-mate Klaas Vantornout.
World champion Erwin Vervecken found a course that suited him perfectly; he had a good start but eventually had to settle for fourth. First non-Belgian in Spain was veteran Richard Groenendaal in fifth place. Jonathan Page of the USA finished 17th at four minutes from winner Nys, while compatriot Jonathan Baker was 34th.
"Luck was very important today," said winner Nys after the race. "I've encountered the same problems two years ago," Nys referred to the year that Wellens won the Igorre World Cup in 2005.
"I punctured two times, but then I noticed that my running was going better than in the previous weeks. Mourey was the big favourite for the win, but I felt that he made too many errors. My guess is that it would've been very close in the last lap," Nys explained on how he figured the race would have developed had Mourey not had mechanical problems.