Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) won his third cyclo-cross world title after an epic duel with Sven Nys (Belgium) in Hoogerheide on Sunday. The Czech rider made his winning move inside the final lap, capitalizing on several mistakes by Nys to eventually break free of the defending champion.
Strength in numbers was once again the nature of the race with Belgium also taking third courtesy of a solid ride from Kevin Pauwels. However it was Stybar’s day, with the Omega Pharma-Quickstep road rider combining his brute strength with an unbeatable fortitude to defeat Nys.
After an exhilarating under 23 men’s race in the morning the gaze of the cyclo-cross world turned its attention to the main event. In a repeat of last year's race, France’s Francis Mourey set the early pace, leaping clear from the gun as the field lined out.
Martin Bina (Czech Republic) was an early casualty, crashing while in second place, with Lars Van der Haar (Netherlands) skilfully leaping over the stricken rider’s body and bike.
Niels Albert (Belgium) was the worst casualty, having yet another terrible start and never making it out of the middle of the bunch.
Stybar was already showing his intentions from the first lap. Lacking a front row start on the grid, he quickly moved up through the bunch to the head of the field, riding with a natural level of assurance that belied his lack of recent cross racing.
With Mourey a willing pace-setter Rob Peeters (Belgium), Nys, and Stybar patrolled the front of the chase. More riders quickly made the junction, among them Thijs van Amerongen (Netherlands) and Lars Van der Haar (Netherlands). Albert had already lost 20 seconds by the time he’d crossed the line after the first lap but the Belgian contingent had strength in numbers with Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels and Tom Meeusen.
However by the end of the first lap the race began to take shape and the foundations of the Nys-Stybar battle started to form. They quickly caught and passed Mourey and the pair set about sharing the pace as the Frenchman and Van der Haar grappled to stay in contention for a medal.
Van der Haar fell for a second time as he exited the pits and with Stybar pushing on once more, and Mourey already in a desperate state, the race began to split further still.
By the end of the second lap Nys was still holding his Czech counterpart with Van der Haar closing once more and Mourey in a worsening position as the chasers began to close.
Nys sensed an opportunity to test his remaining rivals on a short incline mid-way through the next lap, and Stybar with his shoulders rocking, briefly looked in trouble.
A bike change gave Stybar another brief lead with Van der Haar back and Mourey two bike lengths off and when the Dutchman managed to claw his way back to the leading pair it looked as though the medals would come down to those three.
With five laps to go the gap was 17 seconds to a group containing five Belgians.
It was Nys who then began to turn the screw midway through the next lap with Van der Haar finally losing contact.
Kevin Pauwels (Belgium), meanwhile, had distanced the chasing back and was quickly shadowing Mourey. The duo’s time together did not last long as Pauwels kicked once more and quickly found himself with Van der Haar.
With three laps to go Stybar almost hit the barriers in the first muddy section with the chase group at 20 seconds but then disaster struck once again for the chase with Van der Haar and Pauwels coming together.
Two to go and Stybar led over the line with Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) – making use of that early crash - at 46 seconds in third with Pauwels a few more seconds ahead of Van der Haar.
So far the leading pair had skirted with danger but survived each obstacle. That changed, first for Stybar on an off-camber right hand corner. The Czech rider's bike slipped from under him and Nys’ reactions were instantaneous and impressive as he dismounted and leapfrogged his rival in one smooth move.
Any advantage the Belgian had was quickly wiped out but Nys tested Stybar once more, this time with his biggest attack of the race. The move paid off and a two second window was quickly created. But with Nys leading and Stybar struggling to make contact this time Nys hit the deck on a u-turn.
It was all the impetus Stybar needed to close the move and he instantly attacked. Once more the move was nullified as behind them Pauwels looked to secure bronze.
Up ahead, and on the final lap, Stybar made what would turn out to be his winning move. Nys still had enough to counter the first acceleration but when Stybar attacked again in the mud his brute force saw him go clear and Nys forced to his feet. Nys, the personification of technical excellence on 'cross, suddenly appeared to lose his composure and pressure told as the Czech rider was able to open up a six second lead.
There was no way back and Stybar doubled his lead by the finish to win by 12 seconds.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)||1:05:29|
|2||Sven Nys (Belgium)||0:00:12|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)||0:00:40|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Belgium)||0:00:59|
|5||Tom Meeusen (Belgium)||0:01:07|
|6||Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands)||0:01:22|
|7||Rob Peeters (Belgium)||0:01:43|
|8||Francis Mourey (France)||0:01:53|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Czech Republic)||0:02:04|
|10||Wietse Bosmans (Belgium)||0:02:11|
|11||Philipp Walsleben (Germany)||0:02:27|
|12||Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands)||0:02:29|
|13||Enrico Franzoi (Italy)|
|14||Julien Taramarcaz (Switzerland)|
|15||Nicolas Bazin (France)||0:02:42|
|16||Thijs Van Amerongen (Netherlands)||0:02:45|
|17||Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland)||0:02:50|
|18||Jonathan Page (United States Of America)||0:02:55|
|19||Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Netherlands)||0:03:03|
|20||Niels Albert (Belgium)||0:03:06|
|21||Steve Chainel (France)||0:03:19|
|22||Sascha Weber (Germany)||0:03:35|
|23||Niels Wubben (Netherlands)||0:03:52|
|24||Jeremy Powers (United States Of America)||0:04:06|
|25||Arnaud Grand (Switzerland)||0:04:15|
|26||Thijs Al (Netherlands)|
|27||Fabien Canal (France)||0:04:36|
|28||Simon Zahner (Switzerland)|
|29||Ian Field (Great Britain)||0:04:38|
|30||Bryan Falaschi (Italy)||0:04:45|
|31||Ryan Trebon (United States Of America)||0:04:56|
|32||Marcel Meisen (Germany)||0:05:11|
|33||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spain)||0:05:35|
|34||Guillaume Perrot (France)||0:05:45|
|35||Michael Schweizer (Germany)||0:05:51|
|36||Lubomir Petrus (Czech Republic)||0:05:53|
|37||Yu Takenouchi (Japan)||0:05:54|
|38||Martin Haring (Slovakia)||0:05:59|
|39||Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spain)||0:06:13|
|40||Calle Friberg (Sweden)||0:06:17|
|41||Mariusz Gil (Poland)||0:06:31|
|42||Vladimir Kyzivat (Czech Republic)||0:07:02|
|43 (-1 lap)||Martin Loo (Estonia)|
|44||Kenneth Hansen (Denmark)|
|45||Christian Helmig (Luxembourg)|
|46||David Fletcher (Great Britain)|
|47||Robert Gavenda (Slovakia)|
|48||Allen Krughoff (United States Of America)|
|49 (-2 laps)||Mike Garrigan (Canada)|
|50||Magnus Darvell (Sweden)|
|51||Hikaru Kosaka (Japan)|
|52||Alexander Revell (New Zealand)|
|53 (-3 laps)||Angus Edmond (New Zealand)|
|54||Aaron Schooler (Canada)|
|55||Nick Both (Australia)|
|56||Morten Vaeng (Norway)|
|57||David Quist (Norway)|