Six years after capturing the under 23 men's world championship in Sankt-Wendel, Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) grabbed a second consecutive elite men's world title on the same course in Germany with a dominant ride.
Belgian veteran Sven Nys finished 18 seconds behind the Czech to claim silver while countryman Kevin Pauwels won the sprint for third place at a distant 1:15.
"Because of my knee injury [picked up back in November] I gambled and put everything on winning the world championships. Being able to win today feels fantastic," said Stybar.
During the first half of the race Stybar tried to split the large front group several times; an initial breakaway attempt on the third lap with Nys and local hero Philipp Walsleben was neutralised as two laps later 'Stybi' tried again and this time only Nys was able to hold his wheel.
"There were too many Belgians up front and I didn't like that situation. Suddenly I was leading with Sven and I felt much more comfortable," Stybar explained.
The duo quickly built up a lead of 30 seconds on the chasers - Walsleben, Belgian riders Pauwels and Klaas Vantornout and Italy's Marco Aurelio Fontana. The race was decided during the seventh of 11 laps when Stybar attacked on a long climb after taking a new bike.
"Shifting was becoming a problem and Sven just allowed me to take the lead again. I wanted to give it a try. Fortunately I didn't see him anymore," Stybar said.
After he was gapped Nys lost even more time due to a flat tyre and trailed Stybar by 20 seconds. The Czech kept riding flawlessly on the technical but fast course and held Nys at the same distance, proving he was the well-deserved winner in Sankt-Wendel.
"The strongest guy won today. He had one explosion too much in his legs. Then I had that flat tyre. I'm happy with second place," Nys said.
Behind the leading duo, Francis Mourey made a remarkable comeback to get back to the chasers. The French champion crashed hard on the third lap and lost almost a minute before he was back in the race. Working his way up from 24th place, Mourey kept going flat out and in the last lap had the first chase group in sight.
Pauwels didn't wait for the Frenchman though and the Belgian surged onto the running track finish to grab the bronze medal before Mourey, Walsleben and Vantornout. Fontana didn't push on during the last lap and the Italian champion crossed the line in seventh place.
Pauwels was aware of Mourey's fightback and said after the finish: "I knew somebody was coming back but I don't know who it was. I've never seen Mourey as I wasn't looking back" he said. "I'm happy with my race. The two riders in front were better."
In the last lap Pauwels received some help from compatriot Vantornout. "He told me something but I didn't understand it," said Pauwels. Vantornout explained what happened: "We wanted another Belgian on the podium. On the last climb I was riding behind Kevin but I held my legs still when he attacked; it worked," Vantornout said.
A large group sprinted for eighth place at more than two minutes behind Stybar. It was another Belgian veteran, Bart Wellens, who held off Christian Heule (Switzerland), countryman Tom Meeusen, Gerben de Knegt (The Netherlands) and Jonathan Page, after the American bounced back from a flat tyre in the third lap.
Page was the best of the US riders, who had an unfortunate afternoon. He finished 12th as Jeremy Powers took 16th and Tim Johnson crashed out of the race at the end of the fourth lap when he seemed to touch wheels on the athletics track.
Pre-race favourite Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was never in contention for the victory after a bad start and a flat tyre put him at a minute from the leaders after only two laps of racing. For a moment Albert was in the company of Page but unlike the American he didn't push on and the World Cup winner finished on a distant 24th place.
"I flatted on the second lap and knew right away that my race was over. I kept riding for my fans who made the trip over here. Of course I'm disappointed because I came to win," Albert told Sporza.
The cyclo-cross world championships crown the season but of course cyclo-cross racing continues for another month with the conclusion of the Superprestige Series and the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy in Belgium.
Next year's the cyclo-cross world championships are held in Koksijde, Belgium. Stybar has promised to combine cyclo-cross racing with road cycling so even if he has a quieter winter, we can expect him to defend his title in the Belgian sand dunes.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)||1:06:37|
|2||Sven Nys (Belgium)||0:00:18|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)||0:01:15|
|4||Francis Mourey (France)||0:01:16|
|5||Philipp Walsleben (Germany)||0:01:18|
|6||Klaas Vantornout (Belgium)||0:01:23|
|7||Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)||0:01:51|
|8||Bart Wellens (Belgium)||0:02:01|
|9||Christian Heule (Switzerland)||0:02:03|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Belgium)|
|11||Gerben De Knegt (Netherlands)|
|12||Jonathan Page (United States Of America)||0:02:04|
|13||John Gadret (France)||0:02:14|
|14||Petr Dlask (Czech Republic)||0:02:16|
|15||Steve Chainel (France)||0:02:32|
|16||Jeremy Powers (United States Of America)||0:02:35|
|17||Bart Aernouts (Belgium)||0:02:38|
|18||Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland)||0:02:39|
|19||Mariusz Gil (Poland)||0:02:54|
|20||José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)||0:02:55|
|21||Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spain)||0:03:55|
|22||Martin Zlamalik (Czech Republic)||0:03:56|
|23||Christoph Pfingsten (Germany)||0:04:16|
|24||Niels Albert (Belgium)||0:04:28|
|25||Sascha Weber (Germany)||0:04:31|
|26||Emil Lindgren (Sweden)||0:04:33|
|27||James Driscoll (United States Of America)||0:04:57|
|28||Ondrej Bambula (Czech Republic)||0:05:00|
|29||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spain)|
|30||Thijs Van Amerongen (Netherlands)||0:05:01|
|-1lap||Cristian Cominelli (Italy)|
|-1lap||Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spain)|
|-1lap||Magnus Darvell (Sweden)|
|-2laps||Ian Field (Great Britain)|
|-3laps||Marek Cichosz (Poland)|
|-3laps||Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Netherlands)|
|-3laps||Johannes Sickmueller (Germany)|
|-4laps||Jody Crawforth (Great Britain)|
|-4laps||René Birkenfeld (Germany)|
|-4laps||Vladimir Kyzivat (Czech Republic)|
|-4laps||Milan Barenyi (Slovakia)|
|-4laps||Gusty Bausch (Luxembourg)|
|-4laps||David Kasek (Czech Republic)|
|-5laps||Paul Oldham (Great Britain)|
|-5laps||Jens Westergren (Sweden)|
|-5laps||Craig Richey (Canada)|
|-5laps||Robert Gavenda (Slovakia)|
|-5laps||Marco Bianco (Italy)|
|-5laps||Vaclav Metlicka (Slovakia)|
|-5laps||Atsushi Maruyama (Japan)|
|-6laps||Derrick St John (Canada)|
|-6laps||Roland Mörx (Austria)|
|-7laps||Tommy Nielsen (Denmark)|
|-7laps||Keiichi Tsujiura (Japan)|
|DNF||Nicolas Bazin (France)|
|DNF||Radomir Simunek (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Fabio Ursi (Italy)|
|DNF||Timothy Johnson (United States Of America)|
|DNS||Enrico Franzoi (Italy)|