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).
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||1:00:10|
|2||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||0:00:09|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:15|
|5||Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux||0:00:22|
|6||Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team||0:00:40|
|7||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team||0:00:55|
|8||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas||0:01:07|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BCKP - Powerplus||0:01:24|
|10||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||0:01:25|
|11||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank||0:01:26|
|12||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob|
|13||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus|
|14||Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie|
|15||Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom|
|16||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||0:01:27|
|17||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team|
|18||Jonathan Lopez (Fra) VC La Pomme Marseille||0:01:38|
|19||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus||0:01:46|
|20||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team||0:02:01|
|21||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV||0:02:02|
|22||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:02:15|
|23||Alessandro Gambino (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito||0:02:16|
|24||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team|
|25||Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:21|
|26||Jérôme Chevallier (Fra) AC Besançon||0:02:22|
|27||Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie||0:02:25|
|28||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel||0:02:29|
|29||Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Besançon||0:02:33|
|30||Marco Ponta (Ita)||0:02:56|
|31||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:03:12|
|32||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI||0:03:17|
|33||Fabio Ursi (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito||0:03:20|
|34||Martin Bína (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor||0:03:23|
|35||David Derepas (Fra) UVCA Troyes||0:03:24|
|36||Ivar Hartogs (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||0:03:35|
|37||Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita-Sutter Home||0:03:39|
|38||Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team||0:03:46|
|39||Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Exe Jeans||0:03:48|
|40||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||0:03:55|
|41||Julien Pion (Fra) Charvieu Chavagneux IC||0:04:09|
|42||Clément Bourgoin (Fra) VC Rhodanien||0:04:13|
|43||Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Sint Oedenrode||0:04:42|
|44||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower Mountainbike-Team||0:04:43|
|45||Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor||0:05:13|
|46||Sascha Wagner (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg||0:05:58|
|47||Milan Barenyi (Svk)||0:06:14|
|48||Martin Haring (Svk)|
|49||Robert Glajza (Svk)|
|50||Sascha Weber (Ger) FC Rheinland-Pfalz Flonheim|
|51||Gusty Bausch (Lux) LC Kayl|
|52||Marek Canecky (Svk)|
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||240||pts|
|2||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||205|
|3||Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux||165|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||156|
|5||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||154|
|6||Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team||138|
|7||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||135|
|8||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||132|
|9||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas||128|
|10||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team||120|
|11||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank||113|
|12||Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||109|
|13||Martin Bína (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor||104|
|14||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team||104|
|15||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||100|
|16||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV||97|
|17||Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie||93|
|18||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||92|
|19||Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Besançon||89|
|20||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||88|
|21||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team||88|
|22||Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Exe Jeans||84|
|23||Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||80|
|24||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||73|
|25||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team||66|
|26||Jonathan Lopez (Fra) VC La Pomme Marseille||65|
|27||Alessandro Gambino (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito||62|
|28||Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor||60|
|29||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||59|
|30||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel||57|
|31||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||49|
|32||Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||44|
|33||Fabio Ursi (Ita) Centro Sportivo Esercito||44|
|34||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI||42|
|35||Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie||41|
|36||Milan Barenyi (Svk)||40|
|37||Jérôme Chevallier (Fra) AC Besançon||39|
|38||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower Mountainbike-Team||38|
|39||David Derepas (Fra) UVCA Troyes||37|
|40||Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||35|
|41||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team||35|
|42||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) KED Bianchi Berlin||33|
|43||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus||32|
|44||Ivar Hartogs (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||32|
|45||Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team||30|
|46||Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg||30|
|47||Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa)||28|
|48||Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita-Sutter Home||27|
|49||Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) Team Král||25|
|50||Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Sint Oedenrode||25|
|51||Sascha Wagner (Ger) Stevens Cyclocross Team Hamburg||23|
|52||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez||22|
|53||Marco Ponta (Ita)||21|
|54||Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team||20|
|55||Martin Haring (Spa)||16|
|56||Zdenek Mlynár (Cze) Max Cursor||13|
|57||Robert Glajza (Svk)||13|
|58||Julien Pion (Fra) Charvieu Chavagneux IC||10|
|59||Jens Westergren (Swe)||10|
|60||Clément Bourgoin (Fra) VC Rhodanien||9|
|61||René Lang (Swi) Delta Elite Team/VC Bützberg||6|
|62||Peter Presslauer (Aut) Team Volksbank||4|
|63||Marek Canecky (Svk)||3|
|64||Andreas Moser (Swi) Bürgis Cycling Team||3|
|65||Zoltan Tisza (Hun)||2|
|66||Sascha Weber (Ger) FC Rheinland-Pfalz Flonheim||1|
|67||Rafael Visinelli (Ita) Gruppo Sportivo Forestale||1|