Switzerland's Ralph Näf and Poland's Maja Wloszczowska were crowned European cross country champions on Sunday in Zoetermeer.
In the men's race, Näf and Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) set the pace at the start. Hermida realized it wasn't his day for a solo effort, but that approach worked for Näf, who took off on a circuit that was muddy after two days of heavy rain.
Hermida stayed behind in a chase group that include Sven Nys (Belgium), Martin Gujan (Switzerland) and Moritz Milatz (Germany). Halfway through the race, Hermida was able to establish a small but important gap over the others.
With two laps (of eight) to go, Nys nearly bridged back up to almost get on Hermida's wheel, but that was part of Hermida's strategy. He had intentionally slowed a bit and then attacked Nys just as he almost caught on and before putting in a strong final lap to re-open the gap.
Näf won in 2:13:09, and Hermida held on for second at 1:39. Nys was third at 3:12. Gujan and Lukas Flückiger rounded out the top five.
Hermida was happy with his second place. "Ralph was unbeatable today and after getting away from the rest, I decided to fight for a medal and
forget about the title."
"This has been a tough battle. From the first lap, nothing worked on my bike due to the mud; but all riders were in the same situation," said Hermida.
"If I couldn't join Näf in the front, I preferred that he, a teammate, win instead of any other non-Spanish rider." Hermida and Näf are teammates on the Multivan Merida team when not racing for their national teams at races like the European Championships.
Roel Paulissen, who finished 31st, commented on the conditions. "At the end of the second lap, I had no more brakes left. It was a terrible way to go into a descent. It was perilous on the slimy course." Paulissen also suffered a flat tire and lamented that he hadn't gone to race the Dolomiti Superbike instead. "That was the course where I became World Marathon Champion!" he remembered.
In the women's race, Maja Wloszczowska won ahead of Irina Kalentieva (Russia) and Sabine Spitz (Germany).
The curvy and in places, brutally steep course, invited many attacks and Kalentieva found herself in seventh place early in the race, although she moved up steadily into second place behind leader Wloszczowska on the second to last lap. Just beofre the last lap, Wloszczowska attacked what was a group of five women and got away for good.
"I was able to push forward from there, it was a good place to be," said the former World Champion Kalentieva. Wloszczowska was clearly the stronger rider, but the Polish rider helped push Kalentieva to a few seconds' advantage over her top competition Spitz. In the end, Kalentieva was second at 18 seconds behind the winner.
Spitz had a slow start and was nowhere to be found in the top five for the first two laps. It wasn't until lap three of the 5.2km course, that the 37-year-old German made contact with the four top women, who had had a 20-second lead on her.
"I knew that the conditions would worsen with the rain," said Spitz, who explained her conservative start. But she also thinks she could have gotten a silver medal if she had responded more quickly to Wloszczowska's final attack and not gotten behind Kalentieva before a section of the course with no opportunity to pass.
"Silver would have been possible without this error, but in the long run, bronze is also ok," said Spitz, who was third at 38 seconds.
Anna Szafraniec (Poland) was fourth at 1:31 and Cecile Ravanel (France) completed the top five at 1:53.
Pre-race favorite Marga Fullana (Spain) abandoned the race after a fast start.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)||1:47:30|
|2||Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation)||0:00:18|
|3||Sabine Spitz (Germany)||0:00:38|
|4||Anna Szafraniec (Poland)||0:01:31|
|5||Cecile Ravanel (France)||0:01:53|
|6||Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)||0:02:40|
|7||Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland)||0:03:23|
|8||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:04:09|
|9||Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland)||0:04:29|
|10||Elisabeth Osl (Austria)||0:04:59|
|11||Marielle Saner Guinchard (Switzerland)||0:05:14|
|12||Adelheid Morath (Germany)||0:06:59|
|13||Laura Turpijn (Netherlands)||0:07:57|
|14||Annika Langvad (Denmark)||0:08:35|
|15||Anna Villar Argente (Spain)||0:08:40|
|16||Anja Gradl (Germany)||0:09:16|
|17||Carina Ketonen (Finland)||0:09:37|
|18||Laura Metzler (France)||0:11:50|
|19||Janka Stevková (Slovakia)||0:13:30|
|20||Githa Michiels (Belgium)||0:14:20|
|21||Pavla Havlíková (Czech Republic)||0:14:43|
|22||Sue Clarke-Thomas (Great Britain)||0:14:53|
|23||Helene Marcouyre (France)||0:15:47|
|24||Monique Zeldenrust (Netherlands)||0:16:31|
|25||Maris Meier (Estonia)||0:17:39|
|26||Blaža Klemencic (Slovenia)||0:17:50|
|27||Sabrina Enaux (France)||0:17:56|
|28||Elena Gogoleva (Russian Federation)||0:18:06|
|29||Oxana Rybakova (Russian Federation)||0:18:26|
|30||Sharon Laws (Great Britain)||0:20:49|
|31||Nicoletta De Jager (Netherlands)||0:21:23|
|32||Kristien Nelen (Belgium)||0:23:38|
|-2laps||Karin Groen (Netherlands)|
|-2laps||Fabienne Niederberger (Switzerland)|
|-2laps||Arielle Boek-Van Meurs (Netherlands)|
|-2laps||Fiona Mcdermid (Great Britain)|
|-2laps||Maria Osl (Austria)|
|-2laps||Riikka Kelja (Finland)|
|-2laps||Andrea Kirsic (Croatia)|
|-3laps||Idit Shub (Israel)|
|-3laps||Inbar Ronen (Israel)|
|DNF||Petra Henzi (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Margarita Fullana Riera (Spain)|
|DNF||Joyce Vanderbeken (Belgium)|
|DNF||Evelyn Staffler (Italy)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ralph Näf (Switzerland)||2:13:09|
|2||José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)||0:01:39|
|3||Sven Nys (Belgium)||0:03:12|
|4||Martin Gujan (Switzerland)||0:04:01|
|5||Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland)||0:04:59|
|6||Milan Spešný (Czech Republic)||0:05:10|
|7||Florian Vogel (Switzerland)||0:05:24|
|8||Sergio Mantecon Gutiérrez (Spain)||0:05:29|
|9||Cedric Ravanel (France)||0:05:47|
|10||Liam Killeen (Great Britain)||0:05:58|
|11||Jaroslav Kulhavý (Czech Republic)||0:07:11|
|12||Jirí Friedl (Czech Republic)||0:07:32|
|13||Emil Lindgren (Sweden)||0:07:37|
|14||Oliver Beckingsale (Great Britain)||0:08:23|
|15||Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)||0:08:43|
|16||Maxim Gogolev (Russian Federation)||0:09:12|
|17||Ivan Álvarez Gutiérrez (Spain)||0:09:38|
|18||Iñaki Lejarreta Errasti (Spain)||0:09:41|
|19||Jelmer Pietersma (Netherlands)||0:09:44|
|20||Klaus Nielsen (Denmark)||0:10:16|
|21||Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Spain)||0:11:06|
|22||Jimmy Tielens (Belgium)||0:11:45|
|23||Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)||0:11:56|
|24||Christof Bischof (Switzerland)||0:12:01|
|25||Gerben De Knegt (Netherlands)||0:12:41|
|26||Johnny Cattaneo (Italy)||0:13:19|
|27||Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||0:14:50|
|28||Marek Galinski (Poland)||0:15:29|
|29||Tony Longo (Italy)||0:15:34|
|30||Evgeny Pechenin (Russian Federation)||0:15:49|
|31||Roel Paulissen (Belgium)||0:16:21|
|32||Jan Škarnitzl (Czech Republic)||0:16:37|
|33||Pierre Geoffrey Plantet (France)||0:17:19|
|34||Thjis Al (Netherlands)||0:18:19|
|35||Jan Verstraeten (Belgium)||0:19:08|
|-2laps||Oleksandr Geraschenko (Ukraine)|
|-2laps||Hannes Metzler (Austria)|
|-2laps||Bjorn Brems (Belgium)|
|-2laps||Jirí Novák (Czech Republic)|
|-2laps||Umberto Carlo Corti (Italy)|
|-2laps||Anton Gogolev (Russian Federation)|
|-2laps||Yader Zoli (Italy)|
|-3laps||Robert Mennen (Germany)|
|-3laps||Filip Eberl (Czech Republic)|
|-3laps||Andrea Tiberi (Italy)|
|-3laps||Ivan Seledkov (Russian Federation)|
|-3laps||Stephane Tempier (France)|
|-3laps||Karl Markt (Austria)|
|-3laps||Igor Bogdan (Ukraine)|
|-3laps||Nicolas Vermeulen (Belgium)|
|-3laps||David Rosa (Portugal)|
|-3laps||Dariusz Batek (Poland)|
|-3laps||Jody Crawford (Great Britain)|
|-3laps||Andras Parti (Hungary)|
|-3laps||Ola Kjoren (Norway)|
|-3laps||Nicolas Rohrbach (Switzerland)|
|-3laps||Periklis Ilias (Greece)|
|-3laps||Alexander Wetterhall (Sweden)|
|-3laps||Frank Schotman (Netherlands)|
|-4laps||Uwe Hochenwarter (Austria)|
|-4laps||Giuseppe Lamastra (Italy)|
|-4laps||Sergiy Rysenko (Ukraine)|
|-4laps||Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spain)|
|-4laps||Alexey Medvedev (Russian Federation)|
|-4laps||Rotem Ishai (Israel)|
|-4laps||Ramses Bekkenk (Netherlands)|
|-4laps||Matej Lovše (Slovenia)|
|-4laps||Matej Mugerli (Slovenia)|
|-4laps||Dani Simcic (Croatia)|
|-4laps||Kevin Van Hoovels (Belgium)|
|-5laps||Luka Kodra (Slovenia)|
|-5laps||Bojan Djurdjic SRB19840613|
|-5laps||Taavi Selder (Estonia)|
|-5laps||Ian Bibby (Great Britain)|
|-5laps||Matjaž Budin (Slovenia)|
|-5laps||Zsolt Szlobodnyik (Hungary)|
|-6laps||Boris Popovic (Serbia)|
|-6laps||Dror Pekatch (Israel)|
|DNF||Jean Christophe Peraud (France)|
|DNF||Nino Schurter (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Moritz Milatz (Germany)|
|DNF||Pavel Boudný (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Zdenek Štybar (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Bas Peters (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Manuel Fumic (Germany)|
|DNF||Marc Colom (France)|
|DNF||Jochen Kass (Germany)|
|DNF||Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)|
|DNF||Jukka Vastaranta (Finland)|
|DNF||Luís Pinto (Portugal)|
|DNF||Georgios Pattes - Toumanis (Greece)|
|DNF||Christoph Soukup (Austria)|
|DNS||Marcin Karczynski (Poland)|
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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