World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), afflicted with a fractured rib, is uncertain about his participation in the upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round in Roubaix, France on Sunday.
Albert, the current World Cup leader, fractured a rib during last Sunday's Belgian national championships when he was knocked off his bicycle by a drunken spectator. Albert finished ninth in the race won by Sven Nys for the seventh time.
"Roubaix comes much too soon," said Albert on Tuesday, according to AFP. "I think my chances to participate are 50 percent. If I am [competing] I will only be thinking about my ranking in the World Cup. I will not be in it for the win."
The 23-year-old Belgian described the difficulties of training with his injury. "On the flat, no worries. But as soon as the road climbs, the pain is almost unbearable," he said.
Albert has been the atop the World Cup standings for the entire season. The Belgian won the first three rounds and has finished on the podium three additional times in the seven World Cups contested thus far.
Albert holds a slim 20-point lead in the World Cup standings over Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) and a 90-point advantage over third-placed Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). Stybar is the only rider who can potentially wrest the World Cup lead from Albert in Roubaix with 80 points going to the victor of a World Cup event.
The World Cup concludes with its ninth and final round on January 24 in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.