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Albert returns to top in Gavere

World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) won the third round of the Superprestige series in Asper-Gavere. Albert extended his lead in the series by two points over Belgian National Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), who missed out on a chance of a 50th career win in the Superprestige series after puncturing early during the penultimate lap. Zdenek Stybar (Telenet Fidea Cycling) won the sprint for third place ahead of teammate Kevin Pauwels.

A year ago, Albert's season was abruptly halted due to a crash during warm-up. This year was entirely different though as the 23-year-old Albert attacked during the fourth of nine laps and went on to victory.

Nys got a bad start and was initially trailing at half a minute, but he fought hard to work his way back, making progress at a rate of about five seconds per lap.

Going into the penultimate lap, arch rivals Albert and Nys were riding together in the lead, at least until a flat tyre and chain problems derailled Nys' intentions of grabbing a sixth consecutive win in Gavere, and a 50th victory in the Superprestige Series.

Albert did not show a lot of emotion when crossing the finish line. He raised his arms and gave a content smile. "After what happened last year, this victory is morale boosting; it's time to close that chapter," Albert said on VT4.

The Cyclo-cross World Champion had seemed to be in trouble when Nys was going faster over the technical and muddy course. "Sven is technically the better rider, and he gained most time on me in the slippery drops," said Albert. "Suddenly I noticed - quite late I think - that he was riding on a flat tyre."

"I could benefit from that and quickly built up a lead again. Sven can read the race very well, and today he clearly rode at his own fast pace, which proved to be faster than mine," Albert said. However, luck was on Albert's side and he netted the win.

Four days earlier, Albert had expressed his annoyance about the negative cheering from the crowds. "It was much better," he said of his time in Gavere. "A few guys were still booing, but that didn't weigh in against the support I received from most of the people."

Belgian champion Nys was a disappointed man after finishing his race. "It all started with a bad start because I clipped out of my pedal. Once I got back up with Niels, we entered the field and suddenly I hit a stone that I hadn't touched all race long. I could hide it for awhile, but once we reached the uphill section I couldn't keep up with him anymore."

"Before that, I had hopes of trying something in the last lap, but after that setback, I knew it was over," said Nys. "Niels is the deserved winner and next week, there's another race. It's a pity that Niels is again taking a few points on me in the overall classification, especially because it's because of bad luck and some minor mistakes. It'll be hard to take those points back because he'll always be on the podium in the upcoming races."

Next week, the Superprestige heads to Hamme-Zogge for the fourth round of the series. Albert will be defending his two-point lead over Nys. Stybar is still in reach of Albert and Nys, trailing at four points, but fourth-ranked Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Projob) is much further back.


Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus1:03:41
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago0:00:36
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling0:00:43
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob0:02:02
6Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank Continental0:02:16
7Erwin VerveckenBaboco - Revor Cycling (Bel)0:02:37
8Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas0:02:39
9Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank Continental0:03:20
10Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:03:31
11Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus0:04:02
12Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus0:04:20
13Martin Zlamalik (Cze)0:04:34
14Rob PeetersLandbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bel)
15John Gadret (Fra)0:05:03
16Marco Bianco (Ita)0:05:20
17Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)0:05:43
18Petr Dlask (Cze)0:06:01
19Jan Verstraeten (Bel)0:06:16
20Françis Mourey (Fra)0:06:29
21Jonathan Page (USA)0:06:38
22Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)0:07:20
23Ben Berden (Bel)0:08:25
-1lapWilant van Gils (Ned)
-1lapJan Soetens (Bel)
-1lapGeert Wellens (Bel)
-1lapJavier Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spa)
-1lapClement L’Hotellerie (Fra)
-2lapsUnai Yus (Spa)
-2lapsGianni Denolf (Bel)
-2lapsLukas Kloucek (Cze)
-5lapsDiego Ramos (Spa)
-2lapsJorgi Cantarcio (Spa)

Elite men Superprestige classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niels Albert (Bel)44pts
2Sven Nys (Bel)42
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze)40
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel)33
5Kevin Pauwels (Bel)30
6Bart Aernouts (Bel)26
7Radomir Simunek (Cze)23
8Gerben de Knegt (Ned)22
9Erwin Vervecken (Bel)21
10Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)20
11Enrico Franzoi (Bel)15
12Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)12
13Rob Peeters (Bel)10
14Jan Verstraeten (Bel)6
15Philip Walsleben (Ger)5
16Martin Zlamalik (Cze)4
17Wilant van Gils (Ned)3
18Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)2
19Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned)1
20John Gadret (Fra)1

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