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Albert outpowers opposition in Antwerp

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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) is Belgian cyclo-cross champion.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) is Belgian cyclo-cross champion.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) receives the congratulations after the race.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) receives the congratulations after the race.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) was imperious in Antwerp.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) was imperious in Antwerp.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) was not on song at the Belgian championships.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) was not on song at the Belgian championships.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) had a disappointing outing.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) had a disappointing outing.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) on his way to glory.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) on his way to glory.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) crosses the line to win the Belgian title.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) crosses the line to win the Belgian title.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) took a fine win.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) took a fine win.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) celebrates his win in Antwerp.

Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus) celebrates his win in Antwerp.
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert on the podium with his gold medal and fresh new tricolor jersey

Niels Albert on the podium with his gold medal and fresh new tricolor jersey
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Paul Herrijgers and his girlfriend Chantal Lippens

Paul Herrijgers and his girlfriend Chantal Lippens
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Stijn Huys wins the elite men without contract category.

Stijn Huys wins the elite men without contract category.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Kevin Cant (Deception Teleurstelling) in the elite men without contract category.

Kevin Cant (Deception Teleurstelling) in the elite men without contract category.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Kevin Cant

Kevin Cant
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Stijn Huys of the elite men without contract race

Stijn Huys of the elite men without contract race
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Tom Van Den Bosch

Tom Van Den Bosch
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Kevin Cant

Kevin Cant
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Gianni Vermeersch runs with his bike.

Gianni Vermeersch runs with his bike.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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 Klaas Vantornout

Klaas Vantornout
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert races toward victory.

Niels Albert races toward victory.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Bart Wellens leads Kevin Pauwels and Bart Aernouts

Bart Wellens leads Kevin Pauwels and Bart Aernouts
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert on his way to a Belgian 'cross title.

Niels Albert on his way to a Belgian 'cross title.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Rabobank's Bart Aernouts in the Belgian Championships

Rabobank's Bart Aernouts in the Belgian Championships
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Teammates Kevin Pauwels and Bart Wellens

Teammates Kevin Pauwels and Bart Wellens
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Rob Peeters runs with his bike.

Rob Peeters runs with his bike.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Kenneth Van Compernolle

Kenneth Van Compernolle
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Dieter Vanthourenhout

Dieter Vanthourenhout
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Jan Denuwelaere

Jan Denuwelaere
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert racing solo

Niels Albert racing solo
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Bart Aernouts racing the Belgian championships

Bart Aernouts racing the Belgian championships
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Bart Wellens and his daughter Lily

Bart Wellens and his daughter Lily
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) grabbed his first tricolour jersey in the Elite Men’s category in Antwerp. Albert received the tricolore jersey and his gold medal from Patrick McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union. Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) beat teammate Kevin Pauwels in a sprint for second place at more than twenty seconds behind winner Albert, but defending champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) had an off-day and abandoned the race.

“All the pieces fell into the right place today. The course was like Koksijde: a combination of fast stretches and sand that was hard to get through. I quickly found out Nys wasn't having a super day. Once Kevin was struggling in the sand I went for it,” Albert said.

In front of 19,000 spectators Albert suffocated his rivals during the first three laps. The 24-year-old from Baal rode solo for more than six laps, while always keeping control of the situation behind him. Albert demonstrated a great combination of technique and power on a course of which two-fifths were made up of sandy stretches.

Kevin Pauwels took the best start in Antwerp by accelerating in the sand. Pauwels took about ten seconds on a group featuring Nys, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea), Wellens, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor), Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) and Albert.

“During the first lap I remained cool and after that I rode my own pace,” Albert said.

In the chase group Meeusen was blocking the road – and supporting his teammate in the lead – ahead of Nys, Vantornout, Albert and the others. By the end of the first lap Pauwels had 12 seconds on the chase group where Albert rode towards the front. “When looking back I saw in a glance that Nys didn't follow me, as he was still stuck behind Meeusen. A Nys in super form wouldn't let that happen. That's when I knew Nys wasn't enjoying a super day,” Albert said.

Albert quickly bridged up with Pauwels during the second lap. Pauwels soon realised that he would have to work hard to keep up with Albert. In the chase group Nys moved forward but after the second lap the defending champion was still 14 seconds down on the two leaders.

During the third lap the masks were slipping. Nys and Meeusen faded, with the latter abandoning a little later on. Pauwels struggled in the sand and he had to let go of Albert.

Albert quickly gained a lead of twenty seconds and he never lost control of the situation. Behind him a chase group was formed with Pauwels, Wellens and Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant Offroad). The three didn't come any closer and quickly focused on the remaining podium spots. Wellens made an acceleration left in the last lap that dropped Aernouts.

While riding in a position behind the battle for the medals, Nys abandoned the race and headed for his camper.

Up front, however, Albert had all the time in the world to celebrate his first title among the pros. Twenty seconds later, Wellens got the better of his teammate Pauwels in a sprint, while Aernouts finished solo in fourth place. Vantornout held off teammate Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) for fifth, and behind them neo-professional Kenneth Van Compernolle’s fine seventh place was a surprise.

From the seventeen riders in the category Elite Men with contract who started the race there were only thirteen finishers. Along with Nys and Meeusen, there were also the fast-starting neo-professional Vincent Baestaens (KDL), Davy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet) and Ben Berden, who didn't finish the race.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niels Albert (BKCP – Powerplus)59:47:00
2Bart Wellens (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)0:00:23
3Kevin Wauwels (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)0:00:27
4Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant Offroad Team)0:00:42
5Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor)0:01:05
6Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor)0:01:16
7Kenneth Van Compernolle (Style & Concept)0:01:50
8Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP – Powerplus)0:01:56
9Rob Peeters (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)0:02:02
10Jan Denuwelaere (Style & Concept)0:02:56
11Jan Verstraeten (KDL cycling team)0:03:26
12Tom Van Den Bosch (AA Drink/ Leontien.nl)0:05:59
13Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator)
DNFSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet)
DNFVincent Baestaens (KDL Cycling Team)
DNFDavy Commeyne (Landbouwkrediet)
DNFTom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team)
DNSBen Berden (B.B. Crazy Team)

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