Only one week after his comeback to the cyclo-cross scene, Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) nailed a first win, his third win in a row in Diegem. Albert dominated affairs in the muddy evening cross near Brussels. He finished with a gap of 16 seconds over Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) and 36 seconds on Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet).
"It's great to win here three times in a row. That's a unique accomplishment that nobody from this cyclo-cross generation has done," Albert said.
French youngster Aurélien Duval (Club Cyclisme Charlott') was the surprise of the day with his fifth place. In the overall rankings of the Superprestige Series, it is Nys who still dominates affairs with 78 points, which is five more than Pauwels.
"That's how you win a classification, by grabbing a lot of points on a bad day. I felt un-energetic," said Nys. The overall rankings of the Superprestige Series are no longer a target for winner Albert as he was out injured for four weeks in which he missed two rounds.
After his comeback in Essen last weekend, it was clear Albert was back on his old high level right away. "After last weekend, I realized that I was ok. Today there was humor during the warm-up, I felt relaxed. I'm enormously happy, and I didn't expect it," Albert said.
The first attacks in dark Diegem were led by world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Team), but the Czech repeated his recent performances by fading halfway through the race. There were more accelerations from men like Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), Mariusz Gil (Baboco) and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) but none equaled the punch from Albert's attack in the third lap. Only Pauwels and Stybar were able to keep up with the Belgian champion. They recovered a little by hopping the barriers while Albert ran them.
"If I jump, I receive a painful knock on my wrist," Albert said of his decision not to hop the barriers. During the fourth lap, Albert accelerated again which cost Stybar his spot up front.
The Albert-Pauwels duo remained in front with Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team), Stybar and Duval trailing by 12 seconds.
During the fifth lap, Albert switched tactics. Instead of accelerating just ahead of the barriers, he now made his move in a short sand section. "Pauwels always managed to come back on me after the barriers, so I had to come up with something. I knew I had to make a gap before the barriers. If there's a bit of sand on the course I always feel like a kid on the playground," Albert said.
Pauwels stumbled slightly in the sand, and Albert was gone. "Niels was stronger. If the sand section hadn't been in the course, it might have been a closer game. I got stuck in the sand because I was hitting the high revs," Pauwels said.
Albert cruised to a well-deserved win. Pauwels easily held on for second place but behind him there was a battle going on for the remaining podium spot. Eventually it was Nys who finished well ahead of Aernouts, Duval and Wellens.
Further back Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) sneaked passed an empty Stybar. Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) and Gil closed down the top-10 in Diegem.
Jonathan Page (Planetbike) was in touch with the lead group during the first lap. "I'm back on the way up. I rode a lot on my own today which hurt in the headwind," Page said. He faded slightly but never dropped back completely and eventually finished 16th at almost two minutes from winner Albert.
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||1:00:30|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:16|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:00:36|
|4||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:00:41|
|5||Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube||0:00:45|
|6||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:00:55|
|7||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:01:01|
|8||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team||0:01:04|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:05|
|10||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||0:01:06|
|11||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:01:25|
|12||Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ||0:01:29|
|13||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||0:01:32|
|14||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:36|
|15||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland||0:01:40|
|16||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles||0:01:51|
|17||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:02:15|
|18||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet - KDL||0:02:49|
|19||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:02:52|
|20||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team||0:02:55|
|21||John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:03:18|
|22||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:03:26|
|23||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:03:51|
|24||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||0:03:56|
|25||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:04:03|
|26||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Barracuda||0:04:08|
|27||Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)||0:04:11|
|28||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:18|
|29||Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies||0:04:28|
|30||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:04:40|
|31||Jelle Brackman (Bel)||0:04:43|
|32||Jo Pirotte (Bel)||0:04:50|
|33||Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:05:15|
|34||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace Cycling Team||0:05:21|
|35||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:05:32|
|36||Bart Verschueren (Bel) KDL-Landbouwkrediet||0:05:52|
|37||Mitchell Hoke (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:06:33|
|38||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:06:37|
|39||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)||0:06:45|
|40||Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC||0:06:58|
|41||Sébastien Ugolini (Fra) CD Haute Garonne||0:07:00|
|42||Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh||0:07:36|
|43||Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn) Team Bridgestone Anchor||-2laps|
|44||Jake Wells (USA) Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross Team|
|45||Simone Masciarelli (Ita)|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||78||pts|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||73|
|3||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team||68|
|4||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||65|
|5||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||57|
|6||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||54|
|7||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||50|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||50|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||41|
|10||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||30|
|11||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||26|
|12||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||19|
|13||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||16|
|14||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||14|
|15||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||11|
|16||Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ||11|
|17||Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube||11|
|18||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||10|
|19||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||9|
|20||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||8|
|21||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland||6|
|22||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||5|
|23||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team||4|
|24||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||2|
|25||Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels||1|
|26||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||1|
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