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Albert gets back on winning track

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Sven Nys acknowledges the crowd as he crosses the line in Essen

Sven Nys acknowledges the crowd as he crosses the line in Essen
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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This is why white is probably not the best colour for cyclo-cross

This is why white is probably not the best colour for cyclo-cross
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert on his way to victory.

Niels Albert on his way to victory.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys (Landbouwcredit-Colnago)

Sven Nys (Landbouwcredit-Colnago)
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Zdenek Stybar flys through the sand.

Zdenek Stybar flys through the sand.
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys and Niels Albert on the podium

Sven Nys and Niels Albert on the podium
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys (2nd, Landbouwcredit-Colnago), Niels Albert (1st, BKCP-Powerplus) and Zdeneck Stybar (3rd, Fidea-Telenet)

Sven Nys (2nd, Landbouwcredit-Colnago), Niels Albert (1st, BKCP-Powerplus) and Zdeneck Stybar (3rd, Fidea-Telenet)
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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The podium: Sven Nys (2nd, Landbouwcredit-Colnago), Niels Albert (1st, BKCP-Powerplus) and Zdeneck Stybar (3rd, Fidea-Telenet)

The podium: Sven Nys (2nd, Landbouwcredit-Colnago), Niels Albert (1st, BKCP-Powerplus) and Zdeneck Stybar (3rd, Fidea-Telenet)
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) hits the thick stuff as Kevin Pauwels arrives behind

Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) hits the thick stuff as Kevin Pauwels arrives behind
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) battles with the mud

Bart Aernouts (Rabobank) battles with the mud
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) leads Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels

Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) leads Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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It wasn't all smooth sailing for Niels Albert

It wasn't all smooth sailing for Niels Albert
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) makes his way up the muddy climb

Zdenek Štybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) makes his way up the muddy climb
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Sven Nys makes his way up a climb

Sven Nys makes his way up a climb
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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He's back! Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) took victory ahead of Sven Nys today

He's back! Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) took victory ahead of Sven Nys today
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert looks relieved as he returns to the winners circle with victory in Essen

Niels Albert looks relieved as he returns to the winners circle with victory in Essen
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) wins in Essen

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) wins in Essen
(Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)

Belgian Niels Albert has won the fourth round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy and extended his lead in the overall series. It was the first win for the World Champion since the Superprestige Asper-Gavere on November 15.

Belgian champion Sven Nys came close on ruining Albert's party in the final laps, eventually settling for second place. Local hero Zdenek Stybar - the Czech lives in Essen - liked the cold weather conditions, but had no answer for Albert and finished third ahead of Kevin Pauwels. Dieter Vanthourenhout was best of the rest and claimed fifth place a long way back from the four major protagonists.

"My form is going back up, although it's not perfect yet. It was close in the end but I managed to stand firm and win, which is the most important thing; it was a demanding effort," Albert told Sporza. "My goal was to win a race this weekend and I've succeeded. I wanted to show that the Niels Albert from the start of the season returned, even though I'm not 100 per cent yet."

Using the same tactics as had proved successful in the beginning of the season Albert went full gas right from the start. The World Champion pulled off the hole shot and then never allowed the others to return. Early on Nys was able to stick to Albert's wheel, followed at short distance by Zdenek Stybar, Kevin Pauwels and Klaas Vantornout.

The race saw the introduction of a new Essen course with both fast and muddy sections mixed with some difficult climbs.

Vantornout, one of the few riders who openly expressed his annoyance about a new course, dropped back and had a complete off day, losing his fourth place in the overall series.

Albert, meanwhile, kept hammering in the lead and after two laps he grabbed three bonus points at the intermediate sprint, with Nys, athough still on his wheel, unable to threaten him. Nys even took a breather and let go of Albert, realizing he wasn't able to continue maintain his compatriot's frenetic pace. Stybar and Pauwels bridged up to Nys and halfway the race Albert had ten seconds on the three chasers. Stybar dropped the two Belgians and shortly afterwards Nys switched bikes and rode alone in fourth position at 0:24 behind Albert.

Nys' bike change appeared to mark a turning point in the race. Albert was no longer extending his lead as Pauwels and Stybar seemed to be struggling. Pauwels crashed in a downhill, lost connection with Stybar and moments later was also dropped by Nys. The latter was picking up the pace but going into the penultimate lap Nys and Stybar were still trailing by almost twenty seconds.

Nys quickly left Stybar behind and went in search of Albert, who was aware of Nys' comeback. Hitting the last lap Nys was only 0:11 behind Albert, the crowds now whipped into a frenzy by the exciting duel. Halfway through the lap Nys got back to within five seconds and although Albert failed to ride up the artificial climb he had enough advantage left to grab victory in Essen.

"I'm turing into an oldtimer. Every lap I was going faster and I found the perfect position on my bike," Nys told Sporza. "Still, the race is only one hour long and I lacked a few corners in the end. Too bad I'm falling short for the win every time. I came here to win the race. Niels' lead in the GvA-Trophy isn't definitive, but [for me] this result isn't a good thing for the rest of the series."

Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar received a lot of support in Essen, with the crowd treating him as a local. "Throughout the course I heard my name, so now I know how Nys feels when riding in Baal. I didn't have a super day and was gapped right from the start; ten seconds was too much today," said Stybar.

The GvA-Trophy will return to action in two weeks with two races in four days. Loenhout on December 29 and Baal on January 1, 2010.

 

Full results
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus1:02:14
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago0:00:11
3Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:00:33
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:01:23
5Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus0:02:04
6Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank0:02:07
7Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus0:02:12
8Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas0:02:36
9Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team0:02:42
10Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank0:02:54
11Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team0:03:10
12Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:03:13
13Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago0:03:29
14Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team0:03:43
15Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:03:59
16Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob0:04:18
17Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida0:04:26
18Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV0:04:43
19Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team0:04:49
20Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie0:05:03
21Marek Cichosz (Pol) Legia 1920:05:29
22Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team0:05:34
23Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:07:24
24Gusty Bausch (Lux) LC Kayl
25Mike Garrigan (Can) La Bicicleta
26Ken Smets (Bel)
27Ariunbold Naranbat (Mgl)

Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee standings after 4 rounds
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus98pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago91
3Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team86
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team71
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob61
6Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank61
7Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank50
8Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus49
9Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus43
10Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team35
11Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas35
12Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)28
13Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team26
14Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie23
15Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago21
16Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux15
17Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team15
18Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team12
19Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike11
20Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team11
21Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team10
22Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)10
23Wilant van Gils (Ned)9
24Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team7
25Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV7
26Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI4
27Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team4
28Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team3
29Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus2
30Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team2

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