By Brecht Decaluwé
The last World Cup race before the World Championships has been won by Erwin Vervecken of the Fidea team. In the Dutch town of in Hoogerheide, he finished alone ahead of John Gadret (Ag2R) and Enrico Franzoi (Franzoi). Bart Wellens (Fidea) had a good attacking race and finished fourth.
Talking with Belgian Sporza radio, Vervecken explained how took this victory. "Immediately, there were 25 men together, so the race was difficult to control. Bart attacked and I helped him by dropping a small gap. Sven Nys (Rabobank) and Gadret (AG2R) did not spare their efforts when trying to close down the gap with Wellens and Simunek (Palmans). Gadret and Franzoi (Lampre) could follow me when I attacked. On a climbing part of the circuit, I used my turbo to make the difference. Bart Wellens could help me in the final lap by letting a gap go in the downhill part.
"This first big victory of the season is in fact quite logical because I am the number two on the UCI rankings. The last weeks, most of the time, I finished second, so I knew that my stamina was alright. Next week will be more selective than today, but in a tactical race I will have my chance. Nys is no longer the untouchable ride of November when he could win without an effort, but he's still the best."
The biggest surprise today was the eighth place of Sven Nys, after winning eight of the nine stages of the World cup. "I was riding a nervous race, with some serious attacks and some defensive racing in the back of the bunch," he said. "We made contact with the race leaders in the last lap. But then I had a flat tyre. If you encounter such problems in the last lap, there is nothing you can do.
"In a very calm week, with only one race, I gained back my mental freshness. Next week, I'll race more in the offensive, because I don't want to take any risks. All Belgians want to become World Champion, so we don't race as a team. I'll ride for myself, and nobody else."
Bart Wellens was riding in front for most of the race. "In the past two weeks, I trained a lot. After the Belgian Championships, I wanted to get 10 percent better for the World's. Today, I only wanted to get a good feeling in the race. I could ride away on a easy part of the circuit and only Simunek was following. The young guy did a lot of work, but in the last three laps he was out of gas. He did a nice race.
"Nys will always remain the top favourite for the World's, but I want to be his main rival. My team mate Vervecken and also Gadret will make sure it will be a good race. Next week, I want nothing else than the world title."
Read the entire Hoogerheide World Cup race report and results here.