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Albert rides away with Superprestige Diegem

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.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus1:00:00
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:00:30
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:00:35
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:00:39
5Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus
6Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea
7Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
8Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus
9Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team
10Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea0:00:43
11Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team0:01:15
12Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea0:01:20
13Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony0:01:44
14Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team0:01:50
15Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:02:18
16Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Métropole0:02:27
17Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea0:02:38
18Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept0:02:44
19Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team0:02:46
20Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco0:02:56
21Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus0:03:16
22Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team0:03:22
23Jonathan Page (USA)0:03:29
24Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL0:03:51
25Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus0:03:59
26Patrick Gaudy (Bel)0:04:01
27Arnaud Grand (Swi) Telenet - Fidea0:04:05
28Dave De Cleyn (Bel)0:04:28
29Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube0:04:40
30Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:05:04
31Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept0:05:12
32Kevin Eeckhout (Bel)0:05:28
33Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet - Fidea0:05:31
34Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Hargroves Cycles-Specialized0:05:35
35Justin Lindine (USA) Redline0:06:18
36Davy Commeyne (Bel)0:06:59
37Bart Hofman (Bel) Afdeling Oost-Vlaanderen WBV-VZW0:07:02
38 (-2 laps)Jeremy Durrin (USA) JAM Fund / NCC
39Mark McConnell (Can) Synergy Racing
40 (-3 laps)Lewis Rattray (Aus)
41Jerôme Baugnies (Bel)
DNFPhilipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus
DNFDries Pauwels (Bel) Melbotech Prorace CT
DNFKendric Van Grembergen
DNFThijs Al (Ned) Telenet - Fidea
DNFMartin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL
DNFRomain Lejeune (Fra)
DNFSteve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
DNFDany Lacroix (Bel)
DNFGareth Whittall (GBr)

Overall standings after six races
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony83pts
2Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus78
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor75
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor70
5Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team56
6Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea54
7Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team49
8Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea42
9Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team27
10Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus22
11Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team21
12Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus19
13Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea17
14Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus16
15Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus15
16Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept
17Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep13pts
18Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony12
19Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco10
20Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube7
21Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor6
22Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team
23Jonathan Page (USA)5pts
24Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL
25Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL2pts
26Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team1

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