For the fourth time in a row world champion Niels Albert (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) clinched the win at the rainy cyclo-cross Superprestige round in Diegem, Belgium. Despite a poor start Albert powered forward halfway through the race to start a long solo ride at the night cross near Brussels. Albert won by a huge margin over Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep). Superprestige series leader Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) had an off-day but remains the leader, although his seventh place cut his 11 point lead down to 5.
"I felt that I had a lot of power in my legs and that's what you need over here," said Albert. "I've got great form since [the World Cup round in] Zolder."
Although only halfway to the record eight wins in Diegem by Roland Liboton, Albert said he will keep the effort up. "I'll always do my best over here as this is one of the few races in the Brabant province."
Despite having a less-dominant season than in previous years, Albert's star appears to be on the rise.
"Since Zolder I'm hitting peak form. At the race in Baal [on New Year's Day] I'll try to win but I never go well there. Whatever the outcome is, I will not panic because what matters now are the championships."
During the first couple of laps Albert wasn't part of the large lead group that included favourites Pauwels and Stybar. Not only did Albert miss his start, Nys did as well. While Albert quickly moved up to join the lead group in the third of eight laps, Nys didn't seem to get going.
Halfway into the race Albert moved up in the large chase group that trailed race leader Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) by a handful of seconds. Not much later he attacked in a sand section and in no time Albert had bridged up to Vantornout. "I managed to ride perfectly through the sand, smoothly hopped the barriers to get on Klaas' wheel," Albert said.
Half a lap later Albert blasted away from Vantornout and went the distance.
"I was an eyewitness and can tell you the strongest man won today. He upped the pace to a murderous level. It was phenomenal. He closed a gap of five seconds and took the lead right away. Then he had another acceleration ready," Vantornout said.
Albert quickly collected half a minute on the large chase group where Nys still wasn't present. Stybar did most of the chasing work together with Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team) but they didn't get a single second closer to Albert.
"During the first few laps I enjoyed the race but then it was over. Some guys didn't want to help in the chase so I switched focus to the podium," Stybar said. The Czech wasn't able to follow Albert when he attacked. "I was on the wheel of Lars in the sand when he made a mistake. Niels and Klaas were gone by then. I also made a lot of technical mistakes. I can't win like that," Stybar added.
Co-favourite Pauwels wasn't able to follow Albert either. The quiet Belgian explained he got pushed away on the decisive moment and punctured a little later. "I knew that I had to be on his wheel but others got ahead of me. I was going well but then flatted because I didn't brake hard enough and rode into the stairs. The form is good but more is needed nowadays," Pauwels told Vier.
When hitting the final lap Nys was on the heels of the eight-man chase group, riding in tenth place. The Belgian champion somehow managed to sneak ahead of three riders and afterwards he claimed that was the maximum. "I simply wasn't good enough today. I tried everything to control the damage. I feel I'm getting worse while I'm usually improving at this time of the year. It's good that tomorrow I have a day off after three consecutive days of racing. One bad day can cost you the classification. I'm glad we now have a break in these series. I need some time to recover," Nys told Vier.
With two rounds left Nys still has some work to do to clinch the overall win in the Superprestige series. Nys leads the series with 83 points which is five more than Albert and eight more than Pauwels. The final two races in Hoogstraten and Middelkerke are scheduled for February 10 and 16.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||1:00:00|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:30|
|3||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:00:35|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:39|
|5||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus|
|6||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea|
|7||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony|
|8||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus|
|9||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:43|
|11||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:01:15|
|12||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:20|
|13||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||0:01:44|
|14||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||0:01:50|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:02:18|
|16||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Métropole||0:02:27|
|17||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:02:38|
|18||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:02:44|
|19||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:02:46|
|20||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||0:02:56|
|21||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||0:03:16|
|22||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:03:22|
|23||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:03:29|
|24||Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||0:03:51|
|25||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:03:59|
|26||Patrick Gaudy (Bel)||0:04:01|
|27||Arnaud Grand (Swi) Telenet - Fidea||0:04:05|
|28||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)||0:04:28|
|29||Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube||0:04:40|
|30||Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:05:04|
|31||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept||0:05:12|
|32||Kevin Eeckhout (Bel)||0:05:28|
|33||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet - Fidea||0:05:31|
|34||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Hargroves Cycles-Specialized||0:05:35|
|35||Justin Lindine (USA) Redline||0:06:18|
|36||Davy Commeyne (Bel)||0:06:59|
|37||Bart Hofman (Bel) Afdeling Oost-Vlaanderen WBV-VZW||0:07:02|
|38 (-2 laps)||Jeremy Durrin (USA) JAM Fund / NCC|
|39||Mark McConnell (Can) Synergy Racing|
|40 (-3 laps)||Lewis Rattray (Aus)|
|41||Jerôme Baugnies (Bel)|
|DNF||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus|
|DNF||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Melbotech Prorace CT|
|DNF||Kendric Van Grembergen|
|DNF||Thijs Al (Ned) Telenet - Fidea|
|DNF||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL|
|DNF||Romain Lejeune (Fra)|
|DNF||Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-BigMat|
|DNF||Dany Lacroix (Bel)|
|DNF||Gareth Whittall (GBr)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||83||pts|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||78|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||75|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||70|
|5||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||56|
|6||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||54|
|7||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||49|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||42|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||27|
|10||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||22|
|11||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||21|
|12||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||19|
|13||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||17|
|14||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||16|
|15||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||15|
|16||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept|
|17||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||13||pts|
|18||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||12|
|19||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||10|
|20||Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube||7|
|21||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||6|
|22||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|23||Jonathan Page (USA)||5||pts|
|24||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL|
|25||Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||2||pts|
|26||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||1|
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