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Azencross Loenhout (Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden #5) - C1
Loenhout, Belgium, December 28, 2006
Young ace Albert gives big boys a beating
Sven Nys close to overall win in the GvA-trophy
By Brecht Decaluwé
Nightly showers made sure that the riders were presented with a big puddle of mud in Loenhout ,where the fifth event of the prestigious Gazet van Antwerpen-trophy was held; the so-called cross of the aces. Dark clouds during the race created an even more impressive atmosphere for spectators and riders. UCI-leader Sven Nys (Rabobank) and current leader in the GvA-trophy Bart Wellens (Fidea) were expected to battle each other for the overall lead. In the end they only had a walk-on part in the one-man show of 20 year-old Niels Albert (Palmans – Collstrop). After three laps Albert rode away and the other riders only saw the blonde ace again after the finish.
”I was surprised the others allowed me to ride away during the third lap. I didn’t mind as riding alone doesn’t matter on this tough course, it’s even an advantage as you can choose your own line in the mud,” Albert explained. The young rider normally rides in the U23 category but choose to race with the elite riders in all the races of the GvA – trophy.
This victory was the first but certainly not the last of the young Belgian; Cyclingnews asked Niels Albert if we will see another great performance in the near future. “There’s only one race left for me this year, the U23 world championships. My main rival over there will be Dutchman Lars Boom, but hopefully he won’t win. Boom moves up to the elite level next yea,r so we wouldn’t see the jersey throughout the year,” Albert said.
The Belgian and Dutch press are outplaying quotes from the two riders, which results in a war of words between the two biggest guns in the U23 category. “I’m convinced Lars [Boom] is a talented and good rider… but he says it quite too often I think. I’m not playing along with this game, last year the press did the same and eventually the third dog ran away with the jersey [cfr. Zdenek Stybar]”, today’s winner explained. “This morning I knew I had good legs, and then it’s possible for me to follow the top,” Albert said. That is an understatement as the so-called top was unable to follow the young ace in Loenhout.
Behind Albert the battle for second place was exciting, with five riders in contention for that place. Eventually Sven Nys was able to distance himself from the group. The UCI-leader did a great job for the overall classification in the GvA – trophy where he now has a bonus of ten points on Bart Wellens.
“Normally I’m riding a race based on the sensations my body gives me, now I was riding more against those sensations. Today I crossed my borders to grab that important second place; a result that was the most I could possibly aim for here. I’m feeling miserable now,” the tired UCI-leader said. “I don’t know if I’ll ride in Middelkerke tomorrow but I probably should go there as the organizers already did a lot to get me at the start."
World champion Erwin Vervecken had to work hard for his third place but his performance was encouraging and it will surely boost his confidence a little more. “I recovered well from the previous races but I got locked up at the start until 15th position. Together with Bart [Wellens] we tried to close the gap on the leaders during a few laps, he couldn’t follow so I continued on my own and got back to the front [behind Albert]. This means I’m good. When Nys attacked Petr Dlask (Fidea) rode in front of me and had a little setback, Nys had ten metres and that was just too much to close down,” Erwin Vervecken said.
Wellens’ teammates in the front group, Petr Dlask and Zdenek Stybar didn’t wait for Wellens while he was at only ten seconds off their group. Both Czech riders claim they didn’t know where Wellens was; that’s bad news for Wellens as he now probably blew his chances for the GvA-trophy with his seventh place. “I started off quickly as I had nothing to lose,” Stybar said about his early attack, “I think Dlask didn’t ride that fast in front of the group on the road and I was focused on my position so I honestly didn’t know that Bart [Wellens] was so close,” Stybar explained.
Jonathan Page (Morgan Blue – BSI) disappeared from the race during the fourth lap after a good start. Cyclingnews was told that Page used tires with too much grip to avoid crashes on the slippery course; he probably didn’t want to risk a setback after his injury spoiled first half of the season. Ryan Trebon (Kona) had a terrible start but worked his way up the field to eventually finish twentieth. “The organizers apparently forgot me during the call-up at the start so I was way too far back in the bunch; I’m really disappointed now but tomorrow should be better,” the man in stars and stripes explained.
How it unfolded
Christian Heule got the hole shot, but soon after that Wellens took the lead of the bunch. U23 world champion Zdenek Stybar attacked the bunch during that first lap and managed to create a little gap. Sven Nys and Niels Albert started the chase on Stybar; followed by a bunch of twenty riders.
During the second lap, the three riders in front came together while Petr Dlask and Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank) chased, and at the end of the lap Nys won the intermediate sprint for three points in the GvA-trophy ahead of Albert and Stybar. At that moment Page was riding in a little group behind the bunch, while Trebon was set even further back.
During the third out of nine laps Nys and Stybar allowed Albert to ride away. Behind Dlask and Groenendaal there was a big group in pursuit being led by Bart Wellens. During the next lap four riders came together behind Albert, who extended his lead up to 20”. World champion Erwin Vervecken and Maxime Lefebvre (Josan) were in pursuit of that group, but Lefebvre blew his chances with a bobble in the technical zone.
With three laps to go Vervecken joined the group behind Albert, who was 40” ahead, while Wellens was still ten seconds behind. The other riders were then already at least 1”35” down on leader Niels Albert. As the end of the race neared, it was clear that Sven Nys could do a great job in the overall classification of the GvA-trophy: Wellens gave up his chase to join the group and Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank) was way down in the field.
Nys accelerated during the last lap while Groenendaal and Stybar were dropped, and Albert took the race win with an advantage of almost half a minute on Nys; Vervecken came in six seconds later. Dlask won the sprint for fourth place ahead of his compatriot Stybar and the Dutch veteran Groenendaal. Wellens eased off and got seventh before Sven Vanthourenhout (Rabobank), De Knegt and Davy Commeyne (Palmans) who concluded the top ten.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com
Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews.com
1 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans Collstrop 1.00.30 2 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 0.25 3 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.31 4 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 0.36 5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 6 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) Rabobank 7 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.40 8 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Rabobank 1.47 9 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 1.57 10 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Palmans Collstrop 2.05 11 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) SD Worx 12 Simon Zahner (Swi) Bürgis Cycling Team 2.25 13 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre - Fondital 14 Radomir Simunek (Cze) Palmans Collstrop 15 David Willemsens (Bel) Vos Sportief 16 Maxime Lefebvre (Fra) Josan 3.00 17 Thijs Al (Ned) Bejan-Rings 18 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) G.S. Selle Italia Guerciotti 19 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) ZZPR.nl 20 Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona 21 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Stevens Racing Team 22 Florian Vogel (Swi) Swisspower 23 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 24 Arne Daelmans (Bel) Palmans Collstrop 25 Wim Jacobs (Bel) Van Der Vorst Cycling Team 26 Peter Van Santvliet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 27 Marek Cichosz (Pol) Entente Cycliste Raismes 28 Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team 29 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux 30 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Palmans Collstrop 31 Lukas Flückiger (Swi) 32 Jorn Van Der Veken (Bel) Profel-Ziegler Continental Team 33 Jean Pierre Leijten (Ned) 34 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona Factory Cyclocross Team 35 Johannes Sickmuller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team 36 Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce POL 37 David Collins (GBr) 38 Bjorn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier-Versluys 39 Maros Kovác (Svk) Dukla Trencín 40 Christoph Roodhooft (Bel) 41 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 42 Andreas Moser (Swi) 43 Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona Factory Cyclocross Team 44 Zdenek Mlynár (Cze) Max Cursor 45 Troy Wells (USA) Team TIAA - Cref 46 Camiel Van Den Bergh (Ned) Stevens Racing Team 47 Christophe Le Bouedec (Fra) CD Morbihan 48 Kelichi Tsujiura (Jap) 49 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 50 Robert Glajza (Svk) CK ZP Sport A.S. 51 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) 52 Dariusz Gil (Pol) KS Scout DNF Jonathan Page (USA) (Morgan Blue – BSI) Under 23 1 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) 47.30 2 Rob Peeters (Bel) 0.30 3 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) 4 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) 0.36 5 Yves Corminboeuf (Swi) 6 Kenny Geluykens (Bel) 0.43 7 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) 1.03 8 Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor 9 Quentin Bertholet (Bel) 1.11 10 Frantisek Kloucek (Cze) Author Praha 11 Frank Sikking (Ned) 1.18 12 Ricardo Van Der Velde (Ned) 13 Rafael Visinelli (Ita) V.C. Bologna 1.40 14 Davide Malacarne (Ita) 15 Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) 16 Bart Verschueren (Bel) 17 Eddy Van Yzendoorn (Ned) 18 Jan Van Dael (Bel) 19 Ian Bibby (GBr) 20 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) 21 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) 22 Lukás Kloucek (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor 23 Wim Leemans (Bel) 24 Thomas Vernaeckt (Bel) 25 Bjorn Selander (USA) 26 Mitchell Huenders (Ned) 27 Renč Lang (Swi) 28 Dennis Vanendert (Bel) 29 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) 30 Davy De Scheemaeker (Bel) 31 Johim Ariesen (Ned) 32 Christian Cominelli (Ita) 33 Jo Pirotte (Bel) 34 Gianni Denolf (Bel) 35 Marcin Sobiepanek (Pol) 36 Chance Noble (USA) 37 Paul Vos (Ger) 38 Dave De Cleyn (Bel) 39 Robert Gavenda (Slo) 40 Arjen De Baat (Ned) 41 David Menger (Cze) 42 Daan De Jonge (Bel) 43 James Driscoll (USA) 44 Remco Te Brake (Ned) 45 Nivard Vanacker (Bel) 46 Kevin Cant (Bel) 47 Gerald Uyttersprot (Bel) 48 Jan Arnouts (Bel) 49 Dries Govaerts (Bel) 50 Morgan Schmitt (USA) 51 Koen Van Grootel (Ned) 52 Edwin Arts (Ned) 53 Nicholas Weighall (USA) 54 Thomas Boeckx (Bel) 55 Willem Schwaner (Ned) 56 Jerry Kallenfels (Ned) 57 Konrad Hasik (Pol) 58 Wim Thijs (Bel) 59 Daniel Neyens (USA) 60 Hans Van Den Bogaert (Bel) 61 Ian Legg (GBr) 62 Bart Wouters (Bel) 63 Jan Verhaegh (Ned) 64 Hans Becking (Ned) 65 Rob Vangenechten (Bel) 66 Dries Pauwels (Bel) 67 Tom Lambrechts (Bel) 68 Mark Cotton (GBr) Juniors
2005 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank