World Champ Albert wins third consecutive World Cup

Stybar second ahead of Nys

World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) grabbed his third consecutive victory in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup by holding off Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) in a two-man sprint at Nommay, France. Stybar excelled on the technical bits - halfway the course - but he couldn't shake loose the world champion and in the sprint Albert proved to be the fastest.

Albert and Stybar are also dominating the World Cup standing, with a huge margin over French champion Francis Mourey (Francaise des Jeux) who finished fifth on home soil, behind Belgians Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and Kevin Pauwels (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team).

"I had a good day but the track was very fast and Stybar was very good," said Albert. "It came down to a sprint and I won it by about 10 centimeters."

The troubles he encountered on the ramps were caused by a different set of tyres, according to Albert. "Stybar used 32 [width] tyres, and I was on 34s. He had more grip with his tyres on the hills where I was always in trouble but in the sprint I could beat him," Albert said.

The world champion went on to explain that he was looking forward to riding in the white jersey of the World Cup leader when it heads to Belgium next month. "Last year one of my goals was to ride in the white jersey in Koksijde. But I lost everything by a crash in Asper-Gavere, so this year it's again one of my big goals to ride there in the white jersey," Albert said.

Runner-up Stybar attacked during the last lap but he couldn't shake off the world champion. "With that acceleration I took a risk but without risks it's not possible to win a race," Stybar told Sporza. "I wasn't feeling fresh because I've been training hard. That's possibly what I lacked in the sprint. It's a good lesson because I know that I can beat Albert in the sprint."

Belgian champion Nys came close in the last lap but he fell short in the end. "I trained hard as well this week and early on I didn't feel that great," Nys told Sporza. "As the race went on I started feeling better and Mourey turned out to be a good companion for me. For me it would've been better if the race was a little longer."

Only Stybar and Albert eager to attack

Martin Bina and Klaas Vantornout started best in Nommay whereas world champion Niels Albert - almost typically - had a bad start. When covering the first stretches on the sticky and bumpy grasslands Albert rode outside the top-15.

The world champion recovered quickly, however, and by the end of the lap he joined Czech champion Stybar who couldn't keep his legs still in the hesitating peloton. The duo took off and built up a small lead on the large peloton behind them where nobody seemed keen to take the lead. Albert quickly tried to drop Stybar and go for a long, solo ride but the Czech got back on Albert's wheel.

Peloton pokers behind the leaders

Albert wasn't planning on taking Stybar along for the whole race and the speed dropped back. After three laps the two leaders had a gap of only 12 seconds on a huge group of approximately 25 riders. If somebody in the peloton would've wanted to close the gap it seemed possible but still nobody took the initiative. In front the duo realized nobody was coming back and they started taking pulls to build their lead up to 23 seconds after four laps.

Halfway through the fifth lap Albert showed the first sign of weakness when he got into trouble on a slippery sloping ramp, getting off the right line and coming to a standstill. Albert quickly recovered from this and got back on Stybar's wheel, but almost every lap the world champion struggled on that section. Stybar always tried to create a gap on Albert on the section and the margin to the reduced peloton behind them ran up to 40 seconds.

Nys reacts and Stybar shows off skills

An acceleration from Sven Nys in the peloton split up the group into two parts and by the end of the fifth lap Nys and five others were back within 30 seconds of the two leaders. Nys was joined by Mourey, Zlamalik, Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas) Christian Heule (Rendementhypo Cycling Team) and Pauwels. Surprisingly, well-placed Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Projob) was missing from this group.

Franzoi crashed out of the chasing group that reduced the deficit of the leading duo to 19 seconds with four laps to go. A quick lap from Albert put the five chasers back at 30 seconds, with Franzoi alone at 37 seconds. The world champion kept the speed high and raised the pressure on Stybar, but the latter didn't seem to have any trouble keeping up with Albert. Nys did the same thing in the chasing group and that put Zlamalik into trouble.

After nine laps the Nys group was only ten seconds behind the leading duo. Albert rode in front at a steady pace but in the technical zone Stybar took over and gained a couple of metres on the world champion. Stybar didn't go flat out and Albert was able to come back, but when entering the last lap it was clear Stybar could distance the world champion on this course; Nys, Mourey and Pauwels followed at 10 seconds, Heule a little further.

All decided on the last lap

Nys led the chase group and tried to come back to the leaders as the front duo were building up their speed towards the technical zone. Stybar took the lead just before the first hill and on the second hill, with the sloping ramp, Albert had to put a foot on the ground.

Behind them Nys went flat out but it was too late. Stybar gave all he had to hold off Albert, but the world champion managed to bridge back up to the Czech champion. As the duo were back together Albert took the lead and maintained a steady pace, trying to save something for the sprint but fast enough to keep Nys at distance.

Albert led out the sprint, Stybar came up next to him but the world champion stood tall and claimed his third consecutive win in the World Cup. Nys fell short, finishing nine seconds behind Albert and Stybar. Pauwels, Mourey, Heule, Zlamalik and Franzoi crossed the line as remainders of the chasing group.

Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) won the sprint for ninth place from a nine-man group, ahead of Dutchman Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank).

Full results
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus1:00:10 
2Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team  
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago0:00:09 
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:00:15 
5Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux0:00:22 
6Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team0:00:40 
7Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team0:00:55 
8Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas0:01:07 
9Radomir Simunek (Cze) BCKP - Powerplus0:01:24 
10Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank0:01:25 
11Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank0:01:26 
12Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob  
13Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus  
14Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie  
15Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom  
16Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago0:01:27 
17Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team  
18Jonathan Lopez (Fra) VC La Pomme Marseille0:01:38 
19Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus0:01:46 
20Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team0:02:01 
21Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV0:02:02 
22Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team0:02:15 
23Alessandro Gambino (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito0:02:16 
24Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
25Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:02:21 
26Jérôme Chevallier (Fra) AC Besançon0:02:22 
27Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie0:02:25 
28Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel0:02:29 
29Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Besançon0:02:33 
30Marco Ponta (Ita)0:02:56 
31Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team0:03:12 
32Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI0:03:17 
33Fabio Ursi (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito0:03:20 
34Martin Bína (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor0:03:23 
35David Derepas (Fra) UVCA Troyes0:03:24 
36Ivar Hartogs (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida0:03:35 
37Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita-Sutter Home0:03:39 
38Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:03:46 
39Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Exe Jeans0:03:48 
40Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike0:03:55 
41Julien Pion (Fra) Charvieu Chavagneux IC0:04:09 
42Clément Bourgoin (Fra) VC Rhodanien0:04:13 
43Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Sint Oedenrode0:04:42 
44Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower Mountainbike-Team0:04:43 
45Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor0:05:13 
46Sascha Wagner (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg0:05:58 
47Milan Barenyi (Svk)0:06:14 
48Martin Haring (Svk)  
49Robert Glajza (Svk)  
50Sascha Weber (Ger) FC Rheinland-Pfalz Flonheim  
51Gusty Bausch (Lux) LC Kayl  
52Marek Canecky (Svk)  
World Cup standings after round three
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus240pts
2Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team205 
3Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux165 
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team156 
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob154 
6Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team138 
7Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago135 
8Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank132 
9Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas128 
10Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team120 
11Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank113 
12Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team109 
13Martin Bína (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor104 
14Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team104 
15Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team100 
16Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV97 
17Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie93 
18Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus92 
19Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Besançon89 
20Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus88 
21Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team88 
22Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Exe Jeans84 
23Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom80 
24Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team73 
25Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team66 
26Jonathan Lopez (Fra) VC La Pomme Marseille65 
27Alessandro Gambino (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito62 
28Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor60 
29Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago59 
30Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel57 
31Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike49 
32Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida44 
33Fabio Ursi (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito44 
34Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI42 
35Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie41 
36Milan Barenyi (Svk)40 
37Jérôme Chevallier (Fra) AC Besançon39 
38Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower Mountainbike-Team38 
39David Derepas (Fra) UVCA Troyes37 
40Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team35 
41Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team35 
42Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) KED Bianchi Berlin33 
43Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus32 
44Ivar Hartogs (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida32 
45Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team30 
46Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg30 
47Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa)28 
48Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita-Sutter Home27 
49Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) Team Král25 
50Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Sint Oedenrode25 
51Sascha Wagner (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg23 
52Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez22 
53Marco Ponta (Ita)21 
54Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team20 
55Martin Haring (Spa)16 
56Zdenek Mlynár (Cze) Max Cursor13 
57Robert Glajza (Svk)13 
58Julien Pion (Fra) Charvieu Chavagneux IC10 
59Jens Westergren (Swe)10 
60Clément Bourgoin (Fra) VC Rhodanien9 
61René Lang (Swi) Delta Elite Team/VC Bützberg6 
62Peter Presslauer (Aut) Team Volksbank4 
63Marek Canecky (Svk)3 
64Andreas Moser (Swi) Bürgis Cycling Team3 
65Zoltan Tisza (Hun)2 
66Sascha Weber (Ger) FC Rheinland-Pfalz Flonheim1 
67Rafael Visinelli (Ita) Gruppo Sportivo Forestale1 
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