There were two highlights at the opening round of the 2011-2012 Patrick UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in the elite men's category. At the start, a slow cameraman from Czech-TV ruined the chances of French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ) and Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus). Later, in the final corners of the race, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-KDL) squeezed into and through 20cm of free space between a tree and world champion and home rider Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step-Innergetic), and he then stormed onto the short finishing straight and grabbed his 44th win in the Cyclo-cross World Cup. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) finished as runner-up ahead of a disappointed Stybar.
"Winning on a course like this is the hardest thing to do for me because it's so fast," Nys said. "I'm happy that I could win a World Cup round one more time. My son wanted that jersey, and I'm glad that he can be proud and say that daddy's bringing it home," Nys told Sporza TV.
A clearly disappointed world champion Stybar admitted that Nys made a power move in the final. "Tactically Nys rode a strong race," said Stybar. "I made a beginner's mistake by leaving some space there, but I didn't expect him to move in there. He's the deserved winner. I still have to learn."
Pauwels seemed to be holding the best cards, but he dropped them in the battle toward the stairs. "Everybody knew you had to be in front at the stairs. I think we were each other's match today, but Nys outsmarted us," Pauwels said.
The start of this race may well go down in history books as one of the most turbulent in cyclo-cross history. The call-up procedure was just finished when the Czech-TV had its cameraman taking shots of all the riders at the front row. The line ended on the left with Albert and eventually Mourey, but while the cameraman was zooming in on Albert, the UCI-officials gave the start signal.
The cameraman blocked the way for Albert, Mourey and men like Timothy Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) behind them, while the other riders sped away. The officials didn't call the riders back, thus making the unlucky blocked riders face an uphill task to get back to the front on the fast course. As if this wasn't enough, some riders went down halfway the bunch in the first corner, again with Albert being held up.
Meanwhile in front, Nys led the race with Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor), Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant Offroad), Stybar, Steve Chainel (FDJ), Pauwels and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) following his wheel.
Albert and Mourey were caught in the middle of the bunch around 20th position. While the duo furiously tried to launch a comeback, Chainel took over the command in front creating a lead group of seven riders: Belgians Nys, Vantornout, Aernouts, Pauwels and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), world champion Stybar and Frenchman Chainel.
While the leaders sped around at about 25km/h, Albert and Mourey were distanced at 15 seconds. Only Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) were able to get back to the leaders before the race blew apart. Stybar tried to accelerate a couple of times without causing major damage. Still the world champion was attentive when Pauwels accelerated in the fifth lap while Vantornout kept his legs still behind them. Chainel tried to close the gap, but he failed. Only Nys was able to close the gap but he needed almost a whole lap to do so. The three leaders had eight seconds on Aernouts, Vantornout and Wellens while Chainel and Meeusen were caught back by Albert at 18 seconds; Mourey and Powers followed little further.
"I felt really well early on but suddenly the two rode away and Klaas Vantornout dropped a gap," said Nys. "I had to do an effort that caused me problems for two laps in a row. In the end I was recovered but I realized it would be tight." The Belgian cyclo-cross veteran was often dangling at the back of the leaders group during laps 7 and 8, but the duo couldn't get rid of him. During the eighth lap Albert bridged up with the first chasers where Simunek and Powers were gone. The group of seven men was out of contention for the win even as they followed at 25 seconds off the leaders.
In front, there was a cease-fire among the leaders during the ninth lap while Chainel got dropped from the chase group. A broken dérailleur forced Wellens to run a large part of the lap, taking away his top-10 result.
During the penultimate lap, Stybar tried several times to get rid of his companions but Pauwels and Nys showed no signs of weakness. "I wasn't the strongest man in the race today - that was Kevin - and in that position, it's hard to get away," Stybar said.
In the final lap, a tactical battle unfolded in which it was key to reach the 23 stairs as the first rider. "In these type of races, you have to be armed to the knife when going into the last several hectometres, and for me it turned out perfectly. I had to hit the stairs in first or second position and then you have to click in your pedals perfectly, which isn't that simple. I hopped on my bike in an explosive way and had more speed than Stybar who let open up 20cm between the tree and himself. I exploited that to get past him."
"It was tight but I think it was the manoeuvre of the day. He didn't expect it but that's just what you need to exploit," Nys said of the finale of the race. Stybar knew he was beaten, and in the sprint he was also overtaken by Pauwels.
In the chase group, Albert went off the gas during the final lap and he finished eighth. Mourey battled his way to fourth just ahead of Vantornout, then Meeusen and Aernouts followed. Chainel was ninth and Powers realized his best-ever performance at the World Cup with his 10th place.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||1:06:08|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Revor||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team||0:00:03|
|4||Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ||0:00:37|
|5||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Revor||0:00:38|
|6||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:41|
|7||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank - Giant Off-Road Team||0:00:43|
|8||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:55|
|9||Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ||0:01:03|
|10||Jeremy Powers (USA) Team Rapha Focus||0:01:26|
|11||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||0:01:39|
|12||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:44|
|13||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott - Swisspower Mtb - Racing||0:01:48|
|14||Simon Zahner (Swi) Bmc Racing Team||0:01:49|
|15||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank - Giant Off-Road Team||0:01:52|
|16||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink - Leontien.Nl Cycling Team||0:01:53|
|17||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam De Rijke||0:01:59|
|18||Sascha Weber (Ger) Team Differdange - Magic-Sportfood.De||0:02:03|
|19||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti||0:02:06|
|20||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale / Cyclocrossworld.Com||0:02:08|
|21||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||0:02:12|
|22||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco Cycling Team||0:02:20|
|23||Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Big Mat - Auber 93||0:02:34|
|24||Marco Bianco (Ita)||0:02:44|
|25||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:02:46|
|26||Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi||0:02:49|
|27||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:02:59|
|28||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:05|
|29||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) KDL Trans||0:03:07|
|30||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - Leontien.Nl Cycling Team||0:03:16|
|31||Karel Hnik (Cze) Telenet - Fidea||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Jérome Chevallier (Fra)||0:03:19|
|33||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:23|
|34||Ondrej Bambula (Cze)||0:03:27|
|35||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles||0:03:28|
|36||Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)||0:03:34|
|37||Petr Dlask (Cze)||0:03:38|
|38||David Kasek (Cze)||0:03:46|
|39||Robert Gavenda (Svk) KDL Trans||0:03:50|
|40||Nico Brüngger (Swi)||0:03:52|
|41||René Lang (Swi)||0:03:54|
|42||Martin Haring (Svk)||0:04:04|
|43||Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)||0:04:13|
|44||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale / Cyclocrossworld.Com||0:04:22|
|45||Johannes Sickmueller (Ger) Feenstra Stevens Bike Team||0:04:32|
|46||Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:47|
|47||Magnus Darvell (Swe)||0:04:49|
|48||Vaclav Metlicka (Svk)||0:05:02|
|49||Milan Barenyi (Svk)||0:05:09|
|50||Kenneth Hansen (Den)||0:05:18|
|-1lap||Kobus Hereijgers (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|-2laps||Melvin Rulliere (Fra)||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|-2laps||Laurent Colombatto (Fra)||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|-2laps||Zdenek Mlynar (Cze)||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|-3laps||Max Walsleben (Ger)||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|-3laps||Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|-4laps||Emil Arvid Olsen (Den)||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|-4laps||David Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|-9laps||Fabio Ursi (Ita) Team Cbe Tecnoimpianti A.S.D.||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|-9laps||Marco Ponta (Ita)||Row 59 - Cell 2|
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