Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP Powerplus) put on a command performance at the opening C1 cyclo-cross race in Kalmthout, Belgium. The former world champion recently fell under criticism from Belgian cycling legend Roger De Vlaeminck, who accused Albert of not being professional, but proved the harsh words wrong with a stunning solo victory from three laps out.
Albert overcame a slow start, chasing to the front group from mid-pack as a large lead group came together following the aggressive opening laps.
Several riders took their turn attacking, including Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Francis Mourey (FDJ), but a slip up by the Frenchman finally opened the door for Albert, who gained a 15 second advantage that, with little more than two laps, was impossible for anyone to close.
"It was hard to get away," Albert said. "I tried several times, but took my chance when Mourey fell. I immediately had a big gap."
When asked if his win was revenge for De Vlaeminck's comments, Albert laughed. "This is a gift for myself and my girlfriend Chantal, who gets some new flowers, but I'm very happy with this victory."
It was Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) who got the hole shot under sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather. Coming back from a successful foray to the United States, Wellens's goal to show a renaissance this season was fulfilled with a fine performance.
He led for the entire first lap, putting riders like Albert and Nys well behind as he pulled away with Vantornout, Mourey and Vincent Baestaens (Landbouwkrediet).
When Albert attacked, it was only Wellens who had the legs to chase. He pulled back a few seconds on the leader, but ran out of course and had to be content with second place on the day.
"I was really surprised I had good legs," Wellens said after coming off a week of severe jetlag after his US tour. "I could ride without stress and the holeshot was beautiful.
"I was a little too far back when Niels accelerated and I could not close the gap. I might have been able to go with Niels, but he was very strong."
Chasing the final podium spot, Wellens's young teammate Tom Meeusen put in a gutsy sprint to out-pace French champion Francis Mourey for third.
After a last-lap tangle behind Kevin Pauwels, six-time Kalmthout winner Sven Nys finished in sixth behind teammate Vincent Baestaens.
"I have no excuses," Nys said for his lackluster ride. "It was just too hot today. I reached my boiling point a few times."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||1:02:50|
|2||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:13|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:22|
|4||Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ|
|5||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:00:37|
|6||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:00:43|
|7||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:46|
|8||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team|
|9||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:54|
|10||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:01:13|
|11||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:01:16|
|12||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||0:01:22|
|13||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:01:27|
|14||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team||0:01:30|
|15||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:43|
|16||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:02:08|
|17||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:02:13|
|18||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Barracuda||0:02:18|
|19||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor|
|20||Egoitz Murgiotio (Spa)||0:02:24|
|21||Stijn Huys (Bel) Champion System LBS|
|22||Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team|
|23||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:03:19|
|24||Jirí Polnický (Cze) Sunweb - Revor|
|25||Kenneth van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept||0:03:58|
|26||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Team Kuota||0:04:04|
|27||Gianni Denolf (Bel) Cyclingchamps|
|28||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) KDL Landbouwkrediet|
|29||Alexandre Wypelier (Bel)|
|DNF||Radomir Simunek Jr. (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus|
|DNF||Kevin Cant (Bel) Van Goethem/Prorace CT|
|DNF||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team|
|DNF||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Van Goethem/Prorace CT|