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Albert unstoppable in Igorre mud

By:
Brecht Decaluwé

Second straight World Cup victory moves Belgian into series lead

Niels Albert (BKCP - Powerplus) celebrates his World Cup win in Igorre, the Belgian's second of the season.

Niels Albert (BKCP - Powerplus) celebrates his World Cup win in Igorre, the Belgian's second of the season.

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Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) convincingly won the fourth round of the UCI's cyclo-cross World Cup in Igorre, Spain. Albert now moves into the World Cup lead as a result of the absence of the injured previous leader Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea). It is the former world champions Albert’s second World Cup win in a row.

“I've got a hard training week behind me and my legs didn't feel 100 percent but it was enough for the victory so I'm satisfied,” Albert told Sporza. Despite his absence at the start of the season, the young Belgian now tops the World Cup standings. “It was the only classification that was still within my reach; I did a good job here in Igorre.”

On a tough muddy course in the Basque region, it was French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ) who finished as runner-up, 17 seconds behind Albert. “It's pleasing to be on the podium. I've battled with Niels Albert and Sven Nys. Hopefully I can beat them one day, maybe at the world championships,” Mourey told Sporza.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) joined Albert and Mourey on the Spanish podium and the Belgian champion was pleased with the outcome. “I'm satisfied with third place and expected nothing more. I have a good base but not a lot of sharpness at the moment due to the training load,” Nys said.

Despite travel problems posed by the Spanish air traffic controllers’ strike, most of the favourites lined up at the start line in Igorre. The most important absentee was the world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea), who is taking a break until the end of the year due to a knee injury.

Right after the start, some unfamiliar riders appeared at the front as the 37 starters sprinted into the mud. Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Swisspower) didn't spare his energy and broke clear of the peloton during the first lap. Soon after that the Swiss rider faded back as the favourites turned on the gas.

Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) and Mourey put distance into the rest of the big guns, while one surprising name was still present: local rider Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde. During the third lap Mourey dropped Wellens but one lap later the Belgian was replaced by his compatriot Niels Albert. Wellens faded further back and he was eventually joined by fellow Belgians Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea), Nys and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor).

“On this course it was better to ride alone. It's hard to overtake other riders because of the deep tracks. That's why I chose to ride in front. I had a good time,” Albert said.

Albert and Mourey created a gap of half a minute on this chasing group and it was soon clear that the winner was going to come from the front duo. During the seventh lap the race was decided when Albert upped the pace. Mourey was unable to hold Albert's wheel and slowly lost the battle.

With two laps to go, Albert had a gap of 12 seconds on Mourey while Nys had dropped the other Belgians for third place. The situation remained the same during the closing laps and Albert racked up his second win of the season. Mourey rolled across the line in second place, well ahead of Belgians Nys, Wellens, Pauwels and Vantornout. Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Offroad) won a sprint for seventh place from his Dutch teammate Gerben de Knegt.

German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) claimed ninth place just ahead of Christian Heule. The first Spaniard in Igorre was Murgoitio Rekalde, who surprised with a strong eleventh place on the demanding course.

Full Results
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 1:06:43  
2 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 0:00:17  
3 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:39  
4 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:55  
5 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:01:07  
6 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:01:33  
7 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 0:01:48  
8 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 0:01:49  
9 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 0:02:11  
10 Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS 0:02:17  
11 Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) 0:02:27  
12 Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:02:31  
13 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus 0:02:35  
14 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:02:41  
15 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Auber 93 0:02:54  
16 Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 0:03:17  
17 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing 0:03:38  
18 Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 0:04:16  
19 Marco Bianco (Ita) 0:04:18  
20 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 0:04:37  
21 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team 0:04:57  
22 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Van Vliet EBH Elshof 0:05:04  
23 Romain Villa (Fra) 0:05:52  
24 Joachim Parbo (Den) Kch Leopard Cycles    
25 Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)    
26 Radomir Simunek Jr. (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus    
27 Mitchell Huenders (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus    
28 Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team    
29 Guillaume Perrot (Fra)    
30 David Lozano Riba (Spa)    
31 Daniel Ruiz Echeandia (Spa)    
32 Sacha Weber (Ger) Stevens Racing Team    
33 Geert van der Horst (Ned)    
34 Mauro Gonzalez Fontan (Spa)    
35 Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)    
36 David Juarez Alday (Spa)    
Elite Men UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings after 4 rounds
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 295 pts
2 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 236  
3 Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 230  
4 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 230  
5 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 229  
6 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 197  
7 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 193  
8 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 181  
9 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team 174  
10 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 167  
11 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus 152  
12 Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 144  
13 Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 138  
14 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 136  
15 Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS 127  
16 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team 125  
17 Marco Bianco (Ita) 125  
18 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Auber 93 122  
19 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing 121  
20 Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) 103  
21 Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned) 83  
22 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 82  
23 Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 81  
24 Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team 80  
25 Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 71  
26 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Van Vliet EBH Elshof 71  
27 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 67  
28 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 63  
29 Mitchell Huenders (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus 63  
30 Radomir Simunek Jr. (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus 62  
31 Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 62  
32 Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Sunweb - Revor 59  
33 Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor 56  
34 Romain Villa (Fra) 54  
35 David Kášek (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor 53  
36 Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles 51  
37 Sacha Weber (Ger) Stevens Racing Team 49  
38 Fabio Ursi (Ita) Buergi 48  
39 Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 46  
40 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 44  
41 Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com 44  
42 Jirí Polnický (Cze) Sunweb - Revor 41  
43 Pirmin Lang (Swi) Buergi 37  
44 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 31  
45 Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com 31  
46 Vladimír Kyzivát (Cze) Johnson Controls Aš Mb 31  
47 Jérome Chevallier (Fra) AC Bisontine 31  
48 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 29  
49 Joachim Parbo (Den) Kch Leopard Cycles 27  
50 James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com 27  
51 Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa) 26  
52 Tijmen Eising (Ned) Sunweb-Revor 26  
53 Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Bisontine 25  
54 Marco Ponta (Ita) 24  
55 Guillaume Perrot (Fra) 22  
56 Karel Hník (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 22  
57 David Lozano Riba (Spa) 21  
58 Daniel Ruiz Echeandia (Spa) 20  
59 Florian Le Corre (Fra) Flers Cyclisme 61 20  
60 Kenneth Hansen (Den) 19  
61 Geert van der Horst (Ned) 18  
62 Wilant van Gils (Ned) CX Nederland 18  
63 Mauro Gonzalez Fontan (Spa) 17  
64 Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa) 16  
65 Marek Cichosz (Pol) Legia-Felt 16  
66 David Juarez Alday (Spa) 15  
67 Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 13  
68 Václav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Controls Aš Mb 11  
69 Milan Barenyi (Svk) 10  
70 Mik Garrigan (Can) 8  
71 Tommy Nielsen (Den) 8  
72 Michael Schweizer (Ger) Stevens Racing Team 7  
73 René Lang (Swi) 6  
74 Martin Haring (Svk) CK Banská Bystrica 6  
75 Mirko Tabacchi (Ita) 6  
76 Craig Richey (Can) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue 5  
77 Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv 3  
78 David van der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus 3  
79 Xabier Garcia Irazola (Spa) 2  
80 Robert Glajza (Svk) BKP 2  
81 Gusty Bausch (Lux) 1