By Brecht Decaluwé and Bjorn Haake in Koksijde, Belgium
America's Katie Compton (Spike) and Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) won Saturday's fourth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium.
Compton came from behind to outsprint World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel and Daphny van den Brand in the final sprint for her second World Cup victory in her career. The German Kupfernagel dominated most of the race while Compton overcame a poor start from back in the second row and joined the leaders later.
"This was a very hard course and it was such a long sprint, but I'm so happy I got this win," Compton said. "Maybe I wasn't the strongest today, but I definitely was the smartest."
The victory from Compton meant no threat for Kupfernagel's lead in the World Cup standings in which the German woman extended her lead over Van den Brand. However, Compton moved up to seventh position in the World Cup standings.
The duo of Kupfernagel and Compton entered the finishing straight in that order. "I was first in that last bend and shouldn't have been in that position; that was a mistake that I shouldn't have made," Kupfernagel said.
In the men's race, former World Champion Vervecken surprised many, including himself, by winning. The Belgian was among the four Fidea riders who joined Belgian Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) in front of the race in the ultimate lap.
Nys hit the finishing straight with a good-sized lead over Vervecken, but the headwind and Vervecken's character proved to be too much. Vervecken managed to overtake Nys on the line and took a record fifth victory in Koksijde.
"I didn't think that I could still win a World Cup race," said the 36-year-old Belgian. That opinion wasn't shared by Nys who said, "As long as Vervecken is riding he will cause trouble."
Thanks to his second place in Koksijde, Nys strengthened his lead in the World Cup.
"I'm happy for Vervecken, especially because he proved that he's not ready for the cyclo-cross museum just yet," joked Vervecken's teammate Zdenek Stybar, who finished third.
On the other hand, Vervecken was happy to see his teammate's progression and he promised he would buy the cake during training next week. "This is the race where it all started for me with my victory in 1993, and later my first podium finish in the World Championships. Now I'm winning this race for the fifth time, a record, but since Sven Nys is four years younger than me, I bet I'm not going to keep the record forever," Vervecken said.
The next World Cup race will be held in Igorre, Spain on December 7.