Niels Albert has declared himself fortunate to have emerged victor of the Superprestige Gavere, in Belgium on Sunday. Albert was successful in the latest round of his see-saw cyclo-cross battle with compatriot Sven Nys, but afterwards attributed his victory to his rival's misfortune.
Nys's chances of victory crumbed on the penultimate lap of the race as he suffered a rear wheel puncture. His bad luck saw Albert ride solo to the line and claim the outright lead in the overall Superprestige series. Albert said afterwards that Nys had been the stronger of the two throughout the race.
"Sven was indeed the better today, but luck is also part of cyclo-cross," said Albert, according to Sporza. "I was lucky Sven punctured, but that's part of cyclo-cross and it could happen to me next time."
Twelve months earlier, Albert had crashed during a warm-up for the same race. A torn spleen suffered in the crash saw him miss much of last season and he acknowledged that the incident had been on his mind throughout this year's event.
"On the descents Sven was technically better than me. I often thought back to last year, when I fell and tore my spleen. For most of the race today I was riding downhill in terror, but this victory is a boost for my confidence."
For Nys, the puncture put paid to his hopes of securing another victory over his younger opponent. The winner of the race a year earlier, Nys had worked hard to get back on terms with Albert through the middle sector of the race.
"I tried to hide my flat tire, but when Niels saw it, I was in trouble. He had a big lead right at the climb; that was deadly, especially after my long chase," Nys told Sporza.
"I had some strength left in the legs for something to try in the closing stages, but it never happened. It's very unfortunate, a missed opportunity."
Albert now leads Nys by two points in the Superprestige standings after the first three rounds of the series.
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