Albert dominates World Cup opener

World champion on another level; Nys, too

Cyclo-cross world champion Niels Albert outclassed the competition on Sunday afternoon in Treviso, Italy in a similar fashion to his 2008 U23 world championship on the same parcours. The 23-year-old Belgian charged away from the field halfway through the second of ten laps and soloed to the second World Cup win of his career.

"Apparently this kind of course suits me well," Albert said at the finish. "When I became U23 world champion over here it was dry and fast too, just like when I won my first World Cup round in Tabor last year. My goal was to get rid of the big peloton and go into the finale with a small group but once you get 20 seconds there's no reason to hesitate.

"My start of the season is impressive as I won all four races I started in," Albert said before adding that the best was yet to come.

Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) finished second at 42 seconds behind the winner, ahead of Belgium's Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team) and Czech Martin Bina. French champion Francis Mourey (Française Des Jeux) won the sprint for fifth place from of a group of 10 riders four seconds after Bina.

While Niels Albert was riding at a level above the others, last year's World Cup winner Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) was riding far below his usual capabilities. The 34-year-old Belgian champion was present on the front during the first lap but then faded away and eventually pulled out halfway the race. Nys' chances for the overall classification in the World Cup are already ruined.

"This was my first bad day in five years," Nys said. "My start was reasonably well, although that wasn't based on form either. From then on it went from bad to worse; I had no power in my legs, persisting was useless.

"Don't ask me what is wrong, because I don't know," Nys added. "I have to stay cool and get back to my usual level as soon as possible."

No competition for Albert

Warm weather conditions and a dry, fast, but demanding, course that had to be tackled for one hour faced the men's field and it was Stybar who showed the most enthusiasm when the starting gun was fired at Lake Bandie, near Treviso. Through an enormous cloud of dust it was possible to spot that the Czech champion was marked by Belgians Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys, with the rest of the field following in one long line.

World champion Albert moved forward at the start of the second lap and he jumped away on a steep climb. Nys was on Albert's wheel but behind him Gerben de Knegt unintentionally blocked the road for others who wanted to follow. A few moments later Nys realized that trying to follow his young compatriot was impossible and he sat up. Albert was on his own and pulled off an unbelievably fast lap, distancing everybody by 23 seconds.

In the peloton behind Albert nobody seemed keen on going flat out in order to save something for the final laps. Albert extended his lead lap after lap while the selection in the peloton behind him was created at the back of the group. Halfway through the race Albert had extended his lead to one minute and it was clear that barring any bad luck for him the win was out of reach for Albert's pursuers.

Stybar and Vantornout best of the rest

A group with Stybar, Vantornout, Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Mourey held a slight gap on a group of about 20 riders during the sixth lap. The quartet were quickly reeled in but this move revealed who the strong riders were in this large group. A few moments later Stybar and Vantornout attacked again and this time Mourey didn't have a reaction ready. Chainel battled hard to make contact with the two chasers but he struggled to close down the final meters of the gap. Stybar and Vantornout worked together to fend off Chainel in order to lock up the final two podium spots.

Going into the final lap Albert was easing off the pace, but still maintained a 43-second advantage over Stybar, who had dropped Vantornout. Martin Bina launched a late counter-attack and replaced Steve Chainel as the lone chaser in fourth place. Those positions remained the same until the finish line where Niels Albert crossed the line as if he hadn't been racing flat out at all.

Mourey had saved something for a fast last lap and he won the sprint for fifth place ahead of Kamil Ausbuher, Gerben de Knegt and the rest of the group. Remarkably, only two - of the usually dominating - Belgians featured in the top-10 today.

Tabor up next

The next World Cup round will be held in Tabor, Czech Republic on October 18, one of two World Cup venues (along with Igorre, Spain) in which only the elite men will compete. It will be very interesting to see whether Sven Nys will be able to recover from his dismal World Cup opener and if the usual suspects will reappear near the front of the race again.

Full results
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 1:04:50  
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:42  
3 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 0:00:52  
4 Martin Bina (Cze) 0:01:00  
5 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:01:04  
6 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)    
7 Gerben De Knegt (Ned)    
8 Petr Dlask (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 0:01:05  
9 Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
10 Christian Heule (Swi) 0:01:07  
11 Thijs Al (Ned)    
12 Martin Zlamalik (Cze)    
13 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:12  
14 Laurent Colombatto (Fra)    
15 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 0:01:40  
16 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 0:01:41  
17 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 0:01:43  
18 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 0:02:04  
19 Jonathan Lopez (Fra) 0:02:09  
20 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) 0:02:12  
21 Mariusz Gil (Pol) 0:02:13  
22 Ondrej Bambula (Cze)    
23 Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa) 0:02:14  
24 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:02:15  
25 Milan Barenyi (Svk)    
26 Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned) 0:02:17  
27 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) 0:02:18  
28 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) 0:02:19  
29 J. Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spa) 0:02:20  
30 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:02:29  
31 Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team 0:02:32  
32 Fabio Ursi (Ita) 0:02:35  
33 Alessandro Gambino (Ita) 0:02:57  
34 Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 0:03:08  
35 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) 0:03:25  
36 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger) 0:03:45  
37 Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) 0:04:00  
38 Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita/Sutter Home 0:04:06  
39 Sascha Wagner (Ger) 0:04:07  
40 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)    
41 Jens Westergren (Swe) 0:04:08  
42 Ivar Hartogs (Ned) 0:04:21  
43 Martin Haring (Svk) 0:04:32  
44 Robert Glajza (Svk) 0:05:03  
45 René Lang (Swi) 0:05:06  
46 Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) 0:05:14  
47 Peter Presslauer (Aut) 0:05:28  
48 Andreas Moser (Swi) 0:05:46  
49 David Derepas (Fra) 0:07:02  
Lapped Rafael Visinelli (Ita)    
Lapped Derik Zampedri (Ita)    
Lapped Yves Corminboeuf (Swi)    
Lapped Marco Bianco (Ita)    
World Cup standings after round 1
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 80 pts
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 70  
3 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 65  
4 Martin Bina (Cze) 60  
5 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux 55  
6 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) 50  
7 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) 48  
8 Petr Dlask (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 46  
9 Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 44  
10 Christian Heule (Swi) 42  
11 Thijs Al (Ned) 40  
12 Martin Zlamalik (Cze) 39  
13 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas 38  
14 Laurent Colombatto (Fra) 37  
15 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 36  
16 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 35  
17 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 34  
18 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 33  
19 Jonathan Lopez (Fra) 32  
20 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) 31  
21 Mariusz Gil (Pol) 30  
22 Ondrej Bambula (Cze) 29  
23 Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa) 28  
24 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 27  
25 Milan Barenyi (Svk) 26  
26 Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned) 25  
27 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) 24  
28 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) 23  
29 J. Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spa) 22  
30 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 21  
31 Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team 20  
32 Fabio Ursi (Ita) 19  
33 Alessandro Gambino (Ita) 18  
34 Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team 17  
35 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) 16  
36 Johannes Sickmueller (Ger) 15  
37 Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) 14  
38 Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita/Sutter Home 13  
39 Sascha Wagner (Ger) 12  
40 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) 11  
41 Jens Westergren (Swe) 10  
42 Ivar Hartogs (Ned) 9  
43 Martin Haring (Svk) 8  
44 Robert Glajza (Svk) 7  
45 René Lang (Swi) 6  
46 Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) 5  
47 Peter Presslauer (Aut) 4  
48 Andreas Moser (Swi) 3  
49 David Derepas (Fra) 2  
50 Rafael Visinelli (Ita) 1  

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