World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) outclassed arch rival Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in a fierce duel at the fifth round of the Bpost Bank cyclo-cross trophy in rainy Loenhout, Belgium. After series of accelerations from both sides, Nys profited from a minor setback in the Albert camp during the sixth of eight muddy laps.
Albert kept fighting for two laps with Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) on his wheel but closing down the eight-second gap wasn't possible. In the sprint for second place, an in-form Peeters beat Albert. With only three rounds left, Nys extended his lead in the time-based overall classification to 1:35 on Albert.
"It was a nice duel. We were matched to each other. We were both killing each other with our attacks," Nys told Sporza. "I was able to respond to his moves but I had to dig deep. My only goal was not to let go of him and keep something for the final laps. Suddenly I was alone. Did something happen? I didn't wait and was able to hold on to the gap, and even extend it in the end. I must've been the strongest."
During the first half of the race, Albert clearly was ambitious, trying to do some damage to Nys. Coming into the race, he was trailing the world champion by 1:06 and Albert planned to reduce that gap. In contrast to most of his starts, he led the pack into the field instead of losing ground as he did one day earlier at the World Cup round in Zolder when he crashed at the first corner.
At the intermediate sprint, Albert snuck ahead of Nys and gained five seconds. During the third lap, Albert ceased his fire anded ended up riding at the back of large lead group. Upon hitting the fourth lap, his teammate Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) led Albert and the 13 riders of the group to start a new offensive.
A little later, only Albert and Nys were left in front. When Albert looked back and saw Nys on his wheel, the pace dropped. First Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) bridged back up and on the main road, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) pulled hard, creating a lead group of ten riders. A new acceleration from Albert quickly dropped everybody once again, except for Nys.
Vantornout was honest. "Every lap, it was getting harder. I was on my limit when Albert and Nys were setting the pace. I managed to come back a couple of times but eventually you end up at the position you deserve," Vantornout said. That ended up being fourth place at nearly a minute from eventual winner Nys.
When Nys took over the command from Albert in the sixth lap, resilient men Vantornout, Stybar and Jim Aernouts (Sunweb - Napoleon Games) bridged back up together with Peeters not far behind. At the pit zone, Albert needed much more time than Nys to get through a ditch and grab a new bike. Nys received a small gap and put the hammer down.
Albert was seeing all colours of the rainbow. "I had a really bad lap there. I had to recover for half a lap. Then I got better, but Nys was gone. I kept the gap at 10 seconds. Then I focused on the sprint for second place. Yesterday's hard race was still in my legs. I suffered most of all in that one," Albert said.
In the sprint for second place, Peeters easily beat Albert. In Zolder, he was the first of the Belgians in fifth place. In Loenhout, Peeters showed that he can do well on muddy courses, too. "Zolder was a surprise to me but this was not. When they attacked, I was at the back of the large group. Then I profited from Stybar who never gives up. I bridged up to Albert and profited from his work. My legs were still good enough for the sprint," Peeters said.
In the overall classification Nys now holds a 1:35 lead over Albert. Vantornout remains in third place at more than three minutes. Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink/Leontien.nl) took 15 bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint but then faded away. He's still in fourth place but he lost nearly two minutes in the race. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) had a chain problem and tumbled from fifth to eighth place in Loenhout.
The next round of the Bpost Bank cyclo-cross series will be held in Baal on New Year's Day.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan KDL Cycling Team||1:01:52|
|2||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:21|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team||0:00:24|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:43|
|5||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||0:00:48|
|6||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:54|
|7||Wietse Bosmans (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team|
|8||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:58|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||0:01:03|
|10||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:10|
|11||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:01:15|
|12||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team||0:01:24|
|13||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team|
|14||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team|
|15||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) Team Natubalans-Apex||0:02:08|
|16||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:12|
|17||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan KDL Cycling Team||0:02:21|
|18||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team|
|19||Martin Bina (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team||0:02:35|
|20||Micki Van Empel (Ned) Crelan KDL Cycling Team||0:03:00|
|21||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:09|
|22||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) The Barracuda Company||0:03:21|
|23||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team||0:03:40|
|24||Steve Chainel (Fra)||0:04:03|
|25||Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:07|
|26||Sascha Weber (Ger) Team Differdange-Losch||0:04:48|
|27||Kenneth Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Haderslev||0:04:53|
|28||Kevin Cant (Bel) Primator Cyclingteam||0:04:58|
|29||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles||0:05:07|
|30||Davy Commeyne (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty Cycling Team||0:05:10|
|31||Stef Boden (Bel)||0:05:43|
|32||Kevin Eeckhout (Bel) Coolens Cycling Team||0:06:22|
|33||Niels Koyen (Bel) DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team||0:07:41|
|-1lap||Ben Berden (Bel) Raleigh-Clement|
|-1lap||Augustyn Navarro (Spa)|
|-1lap||James Spragg (GBr) Team Bergamont Bicycles by BMC Group|
|-1lap||Yannick Mayer (Ger) Team Baier Landshut|
|-1lap||Max Walsleben (Ger)|
|-2laps||Alexander Revell (NZl)|
|-3laps||Christoph Ambroziak (Ger) Gunsha Racing Team|
|-3laps||Edmond Angus (NZl)|
|-4laps||Shinya Ikemoto (Jap)|
|-4laps||Christophe Cavazzana (Fra)|