By Brecht Decaluwé & Gregor Brown in Treviso
It took Niels Albert two minutes before he had a gap on the bunch, and after that the Belgian was never seen again. Walking over the finish line with his bike in the air, the 21 year-old finally has the title he's been chasing for three years and the jersey he wanted so badly.
The French squad played a tactical race for the other podium spots with Aurelien Duval managing to jump away in the final lap for silver - the second French medal in Treviso thus far. Local rider Cristian Cominelli sent the Italian crowds mad when he sprinted past Jonathan Lopez for bronze and the first Italian medal of these Cyclo-cross World Championships.
"I'm very happy that I finally won the title because that's why I stayed in the U23 category. Now, I hope that I can repeat this in the elite race one of these years," Albert described his desire for a world championship title in every category – pulling off the 'Simu-trick' – a feat that has only been accomplished by the great Czech Radomir Simunek. "To win the world title in this setting – on a fantastic course, in a country with a great cycling history – is great."
The Belgian didn't provide much entertainment to the spectators who love to see a tight race, although he felt he showed some patience in Treviso. "Deliberately I didn't start too fast and positioned myself in third place right after the start. Thijs Van Amerongen pulled very hard on the first section's slopes, but when he lost his speed I took over at full speed for some reason. From then on I didn't look back.
Continue to full results, report and photos of the U23 race.