Belgian champion Sven Nys won an exciting tactical battle up and around the legendary Koppenberg with a devastating acceleration during the last climb up the greasy slopes of the famed cobbled climb. The 33-year-old grabbed his seventh victory in the Koppenberg Cyclo-cross, which has become a classic of the cyclo-cross season.
World champion Niels Albert finished in second place, four seconds behind Nys after an inconsistent race. The 23-year-old Belgian got stuck in the course marking tape during the first lap. Nys benefited maximally from this situation by grabbing the three bonus points during the intermediate sprint after two laps.
"This is the heydey of cyclo-cross. This is a classic race everybody talks about and remembers. Never before it was as exciting as this one, and it was tactically the hardest of all," the winner Nys said.
The riders' nerves were tested before the start when it started to pour down on the - until then - dry course in Melden, Belgium. One rider immediately encountered trouble during the first climb up the Koppenberg; it was Albert, who got a poor start and then got stuck in the course marking tape halfway up the climb. When the riders turn away from the cobbled road and hit the meadow on the right; all but a few riders had passed the World Champion.
In front Nys, Stybar, Klaas Vantornout and Francis Mourey didn't wait as they distanced themselves from the rest of the field. While the weather conditions improved, the World Champion seemed to do the same, and halfway through the second lap, Albert had returned toward the front and was in seventh position. That was too far to threaten Nys, Stybar and Vantornout for the intermediate sprint.
But it was also too early for the leaders to continue their efforts and the pace dropped, allowing more riders, including Albert, to make their way up to the first group.
Once Albert was back at the front, an unexpected scenario occurred. First it was Stybar who attacked, and he was later joined by Vantornout, Albert, and then also Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Bart Aernouts and French champion Francis Mourey. Albert didn't allow the others to take a breather, and he attacked right away, during the fourth lap, and fired off an unbelievably fast lap.
Stybar narrowly managed to hold on to the World Champion until they encountered a headwind on the home straight which was where Albert stopped pulling.
Five riders bridged up to them, resulting in a seven-man lead group halfway the race. Nys moved to the front, leading the group at a steady pace, and during the next lap, he launched an attack.
What nobody expected happened: Albert cracked and had to let go as Nys, Aernouts, Stybar and Pauwels rode away. However, the World Champion received another chance to win when the speed of the leaders dropped again on the home straight, and Albert even attacked on the final section of the climb during the penultimate lap, but his efforts were without success this time.
Eventually the group of seven riders hit the final lap, with nobody proving to be clearly stronger than the others. Mourey led the group on the first uphill section over the cobbles, but during the second part Nys fired forward.
First the Belgian champion had Vantornout on his wheel, but then he crossed the summit with a good advantage over both Vantornout and Albert. Albert rode a fast descent, came back to within four seconds of the lead, but not a second closer, which meant that Nys grabbed his seventh victory at the Koppenberg.
"Winning solo after such a late decision in the race is the most beautifal way to win a race," Nys said.
Nys and Albert now share the lead in the overall standing of the GvA-Trophy, with both riders holding 50 points.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel)||1:02:08|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel)||0:00:04|
|3||Klaas Vantornout (Bel)||0:00:07|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)|
|5||Zdenek Stybar (Cze)||0:00:14|
|6||Françis Mourey (Fra)||0:00:24|
|7||Bart Aernouts (Bel)||0:01:04|
|8||Enrico Franzoi (Ita)||0:01:15|
|9||Gerben de Knegt (Ned)|
|10||Erwin Vervecken (Bel)||0:01:25|
|11||Mariusz Gil (Pol)||0:01:27|
|12||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:01:31|
|13||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:01:34|
|14||Marco Bianco (Ita)||0:01:38|
|15||Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)||0:01:50|
|16||Radomir Simunek (Cze)||0:01:53|
|17||Jan Verstraeten (Bel)||0:01:55|
|18||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:01:57|
|19||Rob Peeters (Bel)||0:02:00|
|20||Philip Walsleben (Ger)||0:02:04|
|21||Wilant van Gils (Ned)||0:02:07|
|22||Jan Soetens (Bel)||0:02:13|
|23||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned)||0:02:22|
|24||Quentin Bertholet (Bel)||0:03:01|
|25||Ian Field (GBr)||0:03:24|
|26||Wim Leemans (Bel)|
|27||Christian Heule (Swi)||0:04:00|
|28||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)||0:04:28|
|29||Christophe Pfingsten (Ger)||0:05:26|
|30||Lukas Kloucek (Cze)||0:05:31|
|-1lap||Alexandre Wypelier (Fra)|
|-1lap||Ludovic Pfirsch (Fra)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel)||50||pts|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel)||50|
|3||Klaas Vantornout (Bel)||39|
|4||Zdenek Stybar (Cze)||38|
|5||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||32|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel)||30|
|7||Erwin Vervecken en Gerben de Knegt (Ned)||25|
|9||Enrico Franzoi (Ita)||22|
|10||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)||21|
|11||Mariusz Gil (Pol)||17|
|12||Radomir Simunek (Cze)||16|
|13||Françis Mourey (Fra)||15|
|14||Jonathan Page (USA)||11|
|15||Christian Heule (Swi)||10|
|16||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)||8|
|17||Marco Bianco (Ita)||7|
|18||Jan Soetens en Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)||6|
|20||Wilant van Gils (Ned)||5|
|21||Ian Field (GBr)||4|
|21||Jan Verstraeten (Bel)||4|
|23||Thijs Al (Ned)||3|
|24||Quentin Bertholet en Rob Peeters (Bel)||2|
|26||Ben Berden en Philipp Walsleben (Bel)||1|