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It's time for the showdown: the Elite men are taking to the course at the 'cross Worlds!
Welcome back to the 'Cross Worlds. We expect an equally exciting race from the men this afternoon.
The question of the day is: Will the Belgian win a medal? They have been shut out so far this weekend.
The sun is still shining and it is still very cold. We have a huge crowd here. No doubt some of them have been drinking something to keep themselves warm.....
They are all lined up and ready to go. We expect a very aggressive race today.
Off they go!
A bunch of Belgians in the lead.....
Zdenek Stybar is at the front, followed by the Belgians. And we have our first crash.
The leaders are up that short but nasty crash that bothered the women so much. Most of them put a foot down, and a few walked up. But as far as we can tell there were no crashes there.
Stybar still leads a bunch of Belgians.
UP the stairs they go for the first time. A Belgian has now moved ahead of Stybar.
Steve Chainel of France is also up at the front. Stybar has moved back into the lead.
Stybar and a Belgian have a slight lead over the rest. The race is pretty spread out.
Tom Meeusen is right behind Stybar. We hnow have a group of seven or so, including an American.
Stybar leads the group over the finish line for the first time.
There is a group of seven in the lead, but the next riders are not far back. many riders bunny hop over the barriers.
One of the Belgians attacks and takes a lead over Stybar. But he is caught again.
The pace is high here and the guys are going all out.
Stybar is in the lead again but keeping a wary eye on all those light blue Belgian jerseys.
The race is gettng more and more spread out, but we still don't have any huge gaps.
Sven Nys is in the lead, looking back to see where the others are.
Stybar again leads the group over the finish line, ahead of Chainel and Page of the US.
There is a group of 20 or so befor a break to the next group. We are still waiting for the day's decisive move.
Chainel is doing the lead work now.
But it is Stybar who once again is first on the stairs.
A lead group of 10 -- maybe? -- has put some space into the rest.
Now the race is exploding. Four riders ahead, two a bit latler, and so on. Stybar is in the lead ahead of a Belgian and Philipp Walsleben of Germany, who has moved way up.
The trio of Stybar, Walsleben and Nys has a five second lead over the next group at the finish line. These guys are flying!
The leading trio looks to be building up their lead.
Nys and Stybar hop over the barriers, Walsleben dismounts.
Walsleben has therefore fallen back a few meters.
Three more riders, two of them Belgian, have now nearly caught the three leaders.
Up the stairs they run again.
The leading six riders are quite stretched out but have a definite lead.
Our leading group is: Stybar, Nys, Walsleben, Fortana (Italy), Pauwels and Vantournout (both Belgium).
We mean of course Fontana and not Fortana..... can't read our own handwriting.
Am American has crashed near the finish line. He looks to be caught in the pedal and isn't jumping right up. He doesn't appeared to be injured, but very frustated...
Fontana now leads the group, right ahead of Stybar.
Stybar jumps ahead and as always runs up the stairs first. Fontana falling back.
Fontana and Vantournout have fallen back. We have four in the lead now.
Stybar and Nys have built up a small gap over Walsleben and Pauwels.
Stybar and NYse cross the finish line seven seconds ahead of Walsleben, Pauwels and Vantournout.
Fontana was sixth, 16 seconds back.
It looks like the two leaders might be building up enough of a lead that they won't be caught.
Walsleben looks to be weakening.
No change of bikes for the two leaders as they now run up the stairs.
A big gap from the leaders to the chasing trio, a huge gap behind them.
Stybar and Nys area heading to the finish line again. What will the gap be now?
Five laps to go, and the two leaders have 20 seconds over the chasers.
Stybar and Nys are rotating the lead work fairly regularly.
The chasing trio is now a quartet, as Fontana has caught up again.
Stybar takes a new bike this time.
Stybar now has lead over Nys and is pulling away.
The chasing group of four is pretty spread out now, too.
With four laps to go, Stybar has six seconds over Nys.
The chasers are way back at 57 seconds!
Can Stybar keep it up? What's up with Nys? Will he be able to make a successful chase?
Stybar looks to be increasing his lead.
Stybar slipped a bit on an ascending curve, but is no danger of being caught.
Stybar is really going for it. Nys falls further and further back.
Just about the only question now is who will take bronze.....
Three laps to go for Stybar to claim his next title. Nys is still giving furious chase but is now 20 seconds down.
The four chasers are at 1:03.
STybar bunny hops over the barriers and easily climbs that nasty little climb.
Vantournout has pulled slightly away from his companions. But they don't let him get far away.
Stybar first up the stairs, what a surprise!
Nys shoulders his bike and climbs.
Vantournout and Walsleben have a small gap over Pauwels and Fontana.
A huge gap behind the four chasers.
Stybar is looking as smooth as one can on this rough course. He will hit the track again soon.
Stybar will be riding for Quick Step on the road as of March 1. How much more will we see him on the 'cross courses?
Stybar over the finish line, with two laps to go. Nys at19 seconds.
The chase group has exploded. Walsleben now leads the chase,at 1:04 down, with Pauwels four seconds behind him.
Three of the chasers are togheter, but they have dropped Fontana.
Stybar looks to be riding more confidently by the minute. Barring disaster, he should have this locked up.
Walsleben is doing his best to secure third place, but will he stand a chance against the two Belgians?
Stybar is on the track and headlng for the bell lap!
Nys crosses the finish line at 18 seconds, staying fairly constant.
Walsleben changes bikes quickly.
The trio of chasers is 1:26 down.
There are a number of empty cups along the course. We don't think they are coffee cups.....
All three chasers walk over the barriers but ride up the little climb, with only a slight problem for Vantournout.
Fontana and Mourey of France have caught the chasing trio.
Nys must be hoping against hope that somehow he can still pull this out.
Fntana has dropped back from the chase group.
Stybar can practically cruise from here on out.
Stybar is on the track in the stadium
Hwe swoops aound the final courner, raise his arms in the air and zig zags his way to the finish line and his second consecutive Worlds title!
The chasers have turned on the gas. Vantournout takes a lead.
Nys was second at 18 seconds. and pauwels, not Vantournout, takes third.
Not a single Worlds title for Belgium this year!
Jonathan Page of the US was 12th.
Jose Hermida of Spain, who just happens to be reigning MTB World champ, is 20th here.
Niels Albert is 24th, at 4:28. Wonder what happened to him?
What an impressive display of strength! Congratulations to Stybar for repeating his win from last year, and congrats too to Nys and Pauwels.
Thanks for reading along.