Zdenek Stybar finally grabbed a major win in Belgium after flanking the podium in many of the seasons' previous races. The Czech champion not only gave the team its first win of the season, teammate Kevin Pauwels made it a Telenet-Fidea one-two as he came a close second in the four-man sprint in the GP Hasselt.
World champion Niels Albert finished third after dominating all race long but failing to drop his rivals, while Sunweb-Projob's Klaas Vantornout finished an unlucky fourth place out of four. Rabobank's Bart Aernouts, part of the five-man lead group, put in a blistering attack on the last lap, but was reeled back by Albert and finished seven seconds behind the sprint in fifth.
Stybar moved himself up into third in the overall classification of the GvA-Trophy behind Albert by claiming three bonus points at the intermediate sprint after two laps; the young Czech is now trailing Albert by only four points.
Belgian champion Sven Nys salvaged his second place in the overall standings by finishing sixth on the day after being forced to stop and re-mount his tire onto the rim early in the race. Nys trails Albert by three points.
Stybar has been nipping at the heels of a win all season, and the 23 year-old Czech was delighted after claiming his first victory. "Amai, super! I'm really happy that I finally got that first win, not only for myself but also for the people around me and my sponsor of course," Stybar said in Flemish, pleasing the local audience.
The GP Hasselt has a fast twisting course, with temperatures reaching up to 16°C today. Niels Albert tried all he could to drop Stybar but the course proved not selective enough to drop the cream of the cyclo-cross guild.
"Everybody could win," Stybar agreed. When reaching the finishing straight, Stybar took the lead before the last corner, after which there were only 200 metres left to cover. "The road isn't too long so I opted to take the lead early on and go for it. I was happy that the line was coming closer because he [Pauwels] was closing in on me," Stybar said.
Celebrations in the Telenet-Fidea camp are well-deserved, but will have to wait until after Sunday's Superprestige race, Stybar said. "No, there's a race tomorrow and the season's still long."
Pauwels has also had a break-out season, riding frequently at the front of races before fading at the end. He had one of his strongest performances to date in Hasselt, and disappointed to lose the sprint, but was happy that the team won the race. "This sort of courses suits me well and I'm happy with second.
"I had to be in front before the last corner but Stybar didn't give that position away. I think I was faster but the finishing straight was too short for me," Pauwels said.
The 25 year-old Belgian rode aggressively to stay in the front group, but had to dig deep to do it. "When Niels [Albert] hammered in front I was suffering. He was clearly the strongest but the strongest doesn't always win," Pauwels said.
With Telenet-Fidea making it a one-two Dutch team manager Hans Van Kasteren was a happy man. "We already gathered about forty podium spots this season and our sponsors are happy with our presence in the front but this is of course fantastic," said Van Kasteren.
World champion Albert led for much of the race, but couldn't shake the Telenet-Fidea duo. When he noticed that his efforts weren't breaking down the Telenet-Fidea boys he eased off and rode more tactically. In the end it didn't bring him the victory as he got boxed in at the final corners.
"Only third? It's still not bad and tomorrow there's another race. It's hard to create gaps on this course as it's fast but with multiple corners. I tried, gambled but didn't win," Albert said.
In the overall classification Albert few points on Sven Nys, but it could've been much more since the latter was riding in 16th position at one moment in the race. "It's annoying with the intermediate sprints [where Nys took two points and Albert only one]. I think I took three points today which is a good thing because he has to get them back somewhere," Albert concluded.
Nys will be looking into why he rolled his tire - an rookie mistake that could have cost him a chance at a seventh career overall GVA title. "My tubular went off the rim when I had to put a lot of pressure on the front; that shouldn't happen. Afterwards I couldn't move up anymore but the gap always remained about 40".
"I wasn't feeling super and I think if I hadn't been unlucky I could have played a role in front," Nys said. During the second lap Nys was away in front with Albert, Stybar, Pauwels and also Bart Aernouts and Klaas Vantornout. After the mechanical, a sixth place was the best result possible.
"Winning the GvA-Trophy is still possible but again I'm losing a lot of points. Once I lost half a minute with that tyre - I lost the belief I could win the race, and it was hard to get back into the rhythm. More than finishing first behind the chasers wasn't possible," Nys concluded.
As a side note the race witnessed the return from Sven Vanthourenhout who took a two weeks break after finding out he was overtrained. The Belgian finished twelfth in Hasselt.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full results and photos.
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:58:31|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob|
|5||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team||0:00:07|
|6||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||0:00:38|
|7||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank Continental Team|
|8||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus|
|9||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|10||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago|
|11||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) AA Drinks Cycling Team|
|12||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Projob||0:01:06|
|13||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drinks Cycling Team|
|14||Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team||0:01:27|
|15||Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor Cycling Team|
|16||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||0:01:33|
|17||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Cyclingteam|
|18||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team||0:02:08|
|19||Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|20||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:02:12|
|21||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||0:02:43|
|22||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team||0:02:47|
|23||Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team||0:03:19|
|24||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team||0:03:24|
|25||Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drinks Cycling Team||0:03:30|
|26||Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||0:03:53|
|27||Jody Crawforth (GBr) Arctic - Premier RT||0:04:30|
|28||Rik Van IJzendoorn (Ned)||0:05:12|
|29||Bart Verschueren (Bel) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||0:05:22|
|30||Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb ProJob|
|31||Ken Smets (Bel) Kon. W.C. Steeds Vooraan - Kontich||0:06:59|
|32||Ariunbold Noaranbat (Mon) Mongolian National Cyclocross Team|
|33||Bolbaatar Bold-Erdene (Mon) Mongolian National Cyclocross Team|
|34||Gaminde Fernandez (Spa)|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||3||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||2|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||1|
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||70||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||67|
|3||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||66|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||56|
|5||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team||54|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank||46|
|7||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||39|
|8||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||33|
|9||Radomír Šimunek Jr (Cze) BKCP - Power Plus||29|
|10||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team||25|
|11||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas||22|
|12||Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie|
|13||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||17||pts|
|14||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||16|
|15||Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux||15|
|16||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||13|
|17||Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team||12|
|18||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||11|
|19||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne||11|
|20||Christian Heule (Swi) RendementhypoCycling Team||10|
|21||Ben Berden (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team||8|
|22||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team||7|
|23||Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||5|
|24||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI||4|
|25||Jan Verstraeten (Bel)|
|26||Quentin Bertholet (Bel)|
|27||Thijs van Amerongen (Bel)|
|28||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team||3||pts|
|29||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus||1|
|1||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team||6||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||5|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||4|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||3|