Albert dominates World Cup opener

Cyclo-cross world champion Niels Albert outclassed the competition on Sunday afternoon in Treviso, Italy in a similar fashion to his 2008 U23 world championship on the same parcours. The 23-year-old Belgian charged away from the field halfway through the second of ten laps and soloed to the second World Cup win of his career.

"Apparently this kind of course suits me well," Albert said at the finish. "When I became U23 world champion over here it was dry and fast too, just like when I won my first World Cup round in Tabor last year. My goal was to get rid of the big peloton and go into the finale with a small group but once you get 20 seconds there's no reason to hesitate.

"My start of the season is impressive as I won all four races I started in," Albert said before adding that the best was yet to come.

Czech champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) finished second at 42 seconds behind the winner, ahead of Belgium's Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team) and Czech Martin Bina. French champion Francis Mourey (Française Des Jeux) won the sprint for fifth place from of a group of 10 riders four seconds after Bina.

While Niels Albert was riding at a level above the others, last year's World Cup winner Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) was riding far below his usual capabilities. The 34-year-old Belgian champion was present on the front during the first lap but then faded away and eventually pulled out halfway the race. Nys' chances for the overall classification in the World Cup are already ruined.

"This was my first bad day in five years," Nys said. "My start was reasonably well, although that wasn't based on form either. From then on it went from bad to worse; I had no power in my legs, persisting was useless.

"Don't ask me what is wrong, because I don't know," Nys added. "I have to stay cool and get back to my usual level as soon as possible."

No competition for Albert

Warm weather conditions and a dry, fast, but demanding, course that had to be tackled for one hour faced the men's field and it was Stybar who showed the most enthusiasm when the starting gun was fired at Lake Bandie, near Treviso. Through an enormous cloud of dust it was possible to spot that the Czech champion was marked by Belgians Klaas Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys, with the rest of the field following in one long line.

World champion Albert moved forward at the start of the second lap and he jumped away on a steep climb. Nys was on Albert's wheel but behind him Gerben de Knegt unintentionally blocked the road for others who wanted to follow. A few moments later Nys realized that trying to follow his young compatriot was impossible and he sat up. Albert was on his own and pulled off an unbelievably fast lap, distancing everybody by 23 seconds.

In the peloton behind Albert nobody seemed keen on going flat out in order to save something for the final laps. Albert extended his lead lap after lap while the selection in the peloton behind him was created at the back of the group. Halfway through the race Albert had extended his lead to one minute and it was clear that barring any bad luck for him the win was out of reach for Albert's pursuers.

Stybar and Vantornout best of the rest

A group with Stybar, Vantornout, Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Mourey held a slight gap on a group of about 20 riders during the sixth lap. The quartet were quickly reeled in but this move revealed who the strong riders were in this large group. A few moments later Stybar and Vantornout attacked again and this time Mourey didn't have a reaction ready. Chainel battled hard to make contact with the two chasers but he struggled to close down the final meters of the gap. Stybar and Vantornout worked together to fend off Chainel in order to lock up the final two podium spots.

Going into the final lap Albert was easing off the pace, but still maintained a 43-second advantage over Stybar, who had dropped Vantornout. Martin Bina launched a late counter-attack and replaced Steve Chainel as the lone chaser in fourth place. Those positions remained the same until the finish line where Niels Albert crossed the line as if he hadn't been racing flat out at all.

Mourey had saved something for a fast last lap and he won the sprint for fifth place ahead of Kamil Ausbuher, Gerben de Knegt and the rest of the group. Remarkably, only two - of the usually dominating - Belgians featured in the top-10 today.

Tabor up next

The next World Cup round will be held in Tabor, Czech Republic on October 18, one of two World Cup venues (along with Igorre, Spain) in which only the elite men will compete. It will be very interesting to see whether Sven Nys will be able to recover from his dismal World Cup opener and if the usual suspects will reappear near the front of the race again.

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Full results
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus1:04:50
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:00:42
3Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:00:52
4Martin Bina (Cze)0:01:00
5Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:01:04
6Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)Row 5 - Cell 2
7Gerben De Knegt (Ned)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Petr Dlask (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:01:05
9Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 8 - Cell 2
10Christian Heule (Swi)0:01:07
11Thijs Al (Ned)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Martin Zlamalik (Cze)Row 11 - Cell 2
13Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas0:01:12
14Laurent Colombatto (Fra)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:01:40
16Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:01:41
17Erwin Vervecken (Bel)0:01:43
18Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank0:02:04
19Jonathan Lopez (Fra)0:02:09
20Jan Verstraeten (Bel)0:02:12
21Mariusz Gil (Pol)0:02:13
22Ondrej Bambula (Cze)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa)0:02:14
24Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:02:15
25Milan Barenyi (Svk)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned)0:02:17
27Christoph Pfingsten (Ger)0:02:18
28Wilant Van Gils (Ned)0:02:19
29J. Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spa)0:02:20
30Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:02:29
31Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team0:02:32
32Fabio Ursi (Ita)0:02:35
33Alessandro Gambino (Ita)0:02:57
34Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team0:03:08
35Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned)0:03:25
36Johannes Sickmueller (Ger)0:03:45
37Vaclav Metlicka (Svk)0:04:00
38Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita/Sutter Home0:04:06
39Sascha Wagner (Ger)0:04:07
40Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Jens Westergren (Swe)0:04:08
42Ivar Hartogs (Ned)0:04:21
43Martin Haring (Svk)0:04:32
44Robert Glajza (Svk)0:05:03
45René Lang (Swi)0:05:06
46Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned)0:05:14
47Peter Presslauer (Aut)0:05:28
48Andreas Moser (Swi)0:05:46
49David Derepas (Fra)0:07:02
LappedRafael Visinelli (Ita)Row 49 - Cell 2
LappedDerik Zampedri (Ita)Row 50 - Cell 2
LappedYves Corminboeuf (Swi)Row 51 - Cell 2
LappedMarco Bianco (Ita)Row 52 - Cell 2
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World Cup standings after round 1
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus80pts
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team70Row 1 - Cell 3
3Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team65Row 2 - Cell 3
4Martin Bina (Cze)60Row 3 - Cell 3
5Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux55Row 4 - Cell 3
6Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)50Row 5 - Cell 3
7Gerben De Knegt (Ned)48Row 6 - Cell 3
8Petr Dlask (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team46Row 7 - Cell 3
9Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom44Row 8 - Cell 3
10Christian Heule (Swi)42Row 9 - Cell 3
11Thijs Al (Ned)40Row 10 - Cell 3
12Martin Zlamalik (Cze)39Row 11 - Cell 3
13Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas38Row 12 - Cell 3
14Laurent Colombatto (Fra)37Row 13 - Cell 3
15Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team36Row 14 - Cell 3
16Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team35Row 15 - Cell 3
17Erwin Vervecken (Bel)34Row 16 - Cell 3
18Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank33Row 17 - Cell 3
19Jonathan Lopez (Fra)32Row 18 - Cell 3
20Jan Verstraeten (Bel)31Row 19 - Cell 3
21Mariusz Gil (Pol)30Row 20 - Cell 3
22Ondrej Bambula (Cze)29Row 21 - Cell 3
23Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa)28Row 22 - Cell 3
24Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team27Row 23 - Cell 3
25Milan Barenyi (Svk)26Row 24 - Cell 3
26Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned)25Row 25 - Cell 3
27Christoph Pfingsten (Ger)24Row 26 - Cell 3
28Wilant Van Gils (Ned)23Row 27 - Cell 3
29J. Ruiz de Larrinaga (Spa)22Row 28 - Cell 3
30Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus21Row 29 - Cell 3
31Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Cycling Team20Row 30 - Cell 3
32Fabio Ursi (Ita)19Row 31 - Cell 3
33Alessandro Gambino (Ita)18Row 32 - Cell 3
34Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb Pro Job Cycling Team17Row 33 - Cell 3
35Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned)16Row 34 - Cell 3
36Johannes Sickmueller (Ger)15Row 35 - Cell 3
37Vaclav Metlicka (Svk)14Row 36 - Cell 3
38Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita/Sutter Home13Row 37 - Cell 3
39Sascha Wagner (Ger)12Row 38 - Cell 3
40Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)11Row 39 - Cell 3
41Jens Westergren (Swe)10Row 40 - Cell 3
42Ivar Hartogs (Ned)9Row 41 - Cell 3
43Martin Haring (Svk)8Row 42 - Cell 3
44Robert Glajza (Svk)7Row 43 - Cell 3
45René Lang (Swi)6Row 44 - Cell 3
46Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned)5Row 45 - Cell 3
47Peter Presslauer (Aut)4Row 46 - Cell 3
48Andreas Moser (Swi)3Row 47 - Cell 3
49David Derepas (Fra)2Row 48 - Cell 3
50Rafael Visinelli (Ita)1Row 49 - Cell 3

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