By Brecht Decaluwé
Nightly showers made sure that the riders were presented with a big puddle of mud in Loenhout, where the fifth event of the prestigious Gazet van Antwerpen-trophy was held; the so-called cross of the aces. Dark clouds during the race created an even more impressive atmosphere for spectators and riders. UCI-leader Sven Nys (Rabobank) and current leader in the GvA-trophy Bart Wellens (Fidea) were expected to battle each other for the overall lead. In the end they only had a walk-on part in the one-man show of 20 year-old Niels Albert (Palmans – Collstrop). After three laps Albert rode away and the other riders only saw the blonde ace again after the finish.
”I was surprised the others allowed me to ride away during the third lap. I didn’t mind as riding alone doesn’t matter on this tough course, it’s even an advantage as you can choose your own line in the mud,” Albert explained. The young rider normally rides in the U23 category but choose to race with the elite riders in all the races of the GvA – trophy.
This victory was the first but certainly not the last of the young Belgian; Cyclingnews asked Niels Albert if we will see another great performance in the near future. “There’s only one race left for me this year, the U23 world championships. My main rival over there will be Dutchman Lars Boom, but hopefully he won’t win. Boom moves up to the elite level next year, so we wouldn’t see the jersey throughout the year,” Albert said.
For the full report, results and photos, click here.