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3rd Scheldecross - C2
Antwerpen, Belgium, December 21, 2007
Iceman Simunek slides to first big win of the season
Page shows good form on icy course
By Brecht Decaluwé
Completely different race conditions were offered to riders in Antwerp Friday. It was freezing on the Saint-Anna beach near the port, and the course was slippery and hard. Radomir Simunek Jr. (Palmans-Cras), a man from the Czech Republic who's used to the cold, took the initiative right from the start and never dropped back.
The son of the cyclo-cross legend with the same name allowed the experienced Richard Groenendaal (AA Sport Drinks) to join him up front, but eventually Simunek jumped away from the Dutch rider in the last kilometre. While crossing the line Simunek clearly couldn't believe what he pulled. He'd kept big guns like Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) and Sven Nys (Rabobank) a safe distance away. The euphoric winner explained why he chose to attack right from the start at the finish line.
"This course is very fast and there was a lot of ice in the corners, so it was better to ride in front to chose your lane. I'm always going strong on ice and a fast course is also in my advantage," said the 22 year-old Simunek.
Despite all his experience it wasn't possible for former world champion Groenendaal to beat the young Czech in Antwerp. "I had fantastic legs today but Simunek was very strong. I made a mistake in the last lap so he certainly deserves the victory," said the man who rode against the father of today's winner in the past.
In third place in Antwerp was Belgian champion Wellens. The Fidea rider was never in the leading group but with a last lap effort he worked his way on the podium. "For once I rode more with, than against Nys today," Wellens laughed. The duo improved throughout the race and eventually launched a late counter-attack on the two leaders but they fell short in the end. "I could have followed Simunek at first, but I felt I was sliding everywhere so I didn't want to take too many risks. We both pulled to join the leaders but we couldn't come close enough," Wellens said.
It was a surprise to spot Jonathan Page (Sunweb Pro Job) among the main chasing group with Nys and Wellens halfway the race. The number two from the US National Championships last weekend is bouncing back from a poor early season start and pulled off his first strong result of the season in Europe by finishing seventh in Antwerp.
How it unfolded
Radomir Simunek took the early lead in Antwerp, on the course among the Schelde near the port of Antwerp. The young Czech had a good gap on two riders, Belgian champion Bart Wellens and Richard Groenendaal. During the second lap Simunek's team-mate Niels Albert (Palmans-Cras) bridged up towards the first chasing group where Groenendaal wasn't shy about taking some pulls. The group joined Simunek in the lead and Groenendaal took over the lead from Simunek. Sven Nys worked hard in the background to stay in touch with the leaders. Some riders showed that they were troubled by the cold, among them the riders who are known to have a sore back like Wellens and Klaas Vantornout (Fidea Cycling Team).
Groenendaal kept hammering on the pedals and he managed to create a gap on of the Palmans duo of Simunek and Albert. A crash from Groenendaal in the sand during the fourth lap allowed the two young riders to re-join the Dutch leader. Behind them Nys crashed in the same spot as Groenendaal.
Halfway through the race, with five laps to go, the big chasing group existed of Rob Peeters (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner), Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Pro Job), world champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team), Sven Nys, Jonathan Page, Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank) and Italian champion Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) who led the group; they followed at 15 seconds from the leaders. In the leading group, Simunek did the work, with Groenendaal following swiftly and Albert having trouble following the two riders in front of him. On the same spot where Groenendaal and Nys crashed a lap earlier, Simunek got stuck in the sand. This made the group lose valuable time.
With four laps to go Albert, who had moved up to second position in front of his team-mate Simunek, slipped away on the icy paths and he lost contact with the two leaders. Rob Peeters took over from Franzoi in the chasing group and the young Belgian created a small gap on the other chasers.
During the sixth lap Groenendaal went swiftly through the corners in the sand while Simunek decided to run rather than stay on his bike. Groenendaal didn't exploit this advantage over the Czech. Albert followed at 5 seconds from the leaders while Nys and Wellens had joined Peeters at 19 seconds. Page, Vervecken and De Knegt chased at 25 seconds.
With three laps to go Simunek decided to pull in front, despite the fact that his team-mate wasn't too far behind. Albert was now chasing at 10 seconds while the group with Nys, Peeters and Wellens were closing in at 16 seconds. During the penultimate lap Groenendaal crashed on the same spot where Albert lost contact with the leaders, and this time Simunek was gone. Albert was being marked by the three chasers, but he immediately tried to attack them as he got caught. Going into the ultimate lap Simunek was still leading the race, but he was almost caught by Groenendaal. The three other chasers were at nine seconds, while Peeters was dropping back at 16 seconds from Simunek. Nys and Wellens unleashed all the forces they had on the icy course, dropping Albert. Simunek kept pulling in front with Groenendaal in his wheel, and after the sand corners the 22 year-old Czech accelerated away from Groenendaal. The Czech stayed on his bike and captured a great victory against strong opposition.
Elite/ U23 Men 1 Radomír Simunek (Cze) Palmans-Cras 57.49 2 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Sport Drinks 0.06 3 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.15 4 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 0.19 5 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans-Cras 0.24 6 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 0.40 7 Jonathan Page (USA) Sunweb Pro Job 8 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 9 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 10 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 11 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 0.54 12 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.45 13 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 1.55 14 Geert Wellens (Bel) AVB USspa.be Cycling 2.02 15 Tom Vanoppen (Bel) AVB USspa.be Cycling 16 Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Palmans-Cras 17 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 18 David Willemsens (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 19 Marco Bianco (Ita) Arcobaleno Carraro 20 Wim Leemans (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 2.33 21 John Gadret (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 2.39 22 Thijs Al (Ned) BeOne CRC Team 23 Arne Daelmans (Bel) Klaipeda - Splendid Cycling Team 3.08 24 Wim Jacobs (Bel) Van der Vorst CT 25 Jan Soetens (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion 3.22 26 Nico Berckmans (Bel) DCM-GB Vorselaar Cycling Team vzw 27 Romain Villa (Fra) UV Aube 3.40 28 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team High Road 29 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis 3.47 30 Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 3.58 31 Tom De Kort (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 4.07 32 Kay Van Den Brande (Bel) Palmans-Cras 33 Fabian Brezinski (Ger) Fuji Bikes Europe 4.44 34 Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team 35 Jorn Van Der Veken (Bel) Profel Ziegler Team 36 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 4.53 37 Peter Van Santvliet (Bel) AVB USspa.be Cycling 5.04 38 David Fletcher (GBr) Science In Sport - Trek 5.22 39 Gianni Denolf (Bel) Palmans-Cras 5.35 40 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Cofidis 5.54 41 Nicky David (Bel) VZW Wielerclub Onder Ons Parike 6.07 42 Steve Gruwier (Bel) VZW Wielerclub Onder Ons Parike 6.17 43 Nathan Chouwn (Can) 44 Bart Dirkx (Ned) TWC Tempo/BMV 6.25 45 Derrick St John (Can) The Cyclery 6.32 46 Molly Cameron (USA) Vanilla Bicycles-Stumptown Coffee 47 Kenneth Verdickt (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team 6.48 48 Kristof Cop (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 6.57 49 Ross Creber (GBr) Science In Sport - Trek 7.21 One lap behind 50 Valentijn Ponseele (Bel) 51 Romain Lejeune (Fra) 52 Kevin Cant (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 53 Sven Van Eyndt (Bel) 54 Kristof Luyten (Bel) United Cycling Team Sint-Truiden Women 1 Daphny van den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl 36.32 2 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Focus 0.04 3 Reza Hormas-Ravenstijn (Ned) ZZPR.nl 0.22 4 Wendy Simms (Can) Kona-Yor Key Mortgage Team 0.57 5 Sanne Cant (Bel) ASD Selle Italia Guerciotti 0.58 6 Loes Sels (Bel) Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T Interim 1.04 7 Linda Van Rijen (Ned) Team DSB Bank 1.14 8 Helen Wyman (GBr) Global Racing Team 2.00 9 Barbara Howe (USA) Velo Bella/Kona 10 Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Lingier - Versluys MTB Team 11 Gabriella Day (GBr) Global Racing Team 3.13 12 Anja Nobus (Bel) Wielerclub Oostende Noordzee 3.28 13 Natasha Elliott (Can) Stevens Cross 3.39 14 Katrien Aerts (Bel) Benelux Team 3.47 15 Nicole De Bie-Leijten (Ned) Usspa Cycling Team 4.01 16 Rebecca Wellons (USA) Ridley Factory Team 4.33 17 Laure Werner (Bel) 4.15 18 Katrien Van Looy (Bel) 5.22 19 Katrien Thijs (Bel) 5.37 20 Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) 5.53 21 Maaike Polspoel (Bel) 6.10 22 Vicki Thomas (Can) Stevens Cross 6.44 23 Ludivine Henrion (Bel) 7.08 24 Jo Blanchaert (Bel) A.T.B. De Mountain-Freaks Oudenaarde 25 Sarah Liekens (Bel) 26 Sarah Vloemans (Bel) Amateurs 1 Wim Jansen (Bel) 42.10 2 Benny Van Staeyen (Bel) 0.07 3 Nico Schroyen (Bel) 0.12 4 Koen Diels (Bel) 0.31 5 Wim De Witte (Bel) 1.43 6 Luc Van Looveren (Bel) 7 Bert Vervecken (Bel) 8 Jan Gevers (Bel) 9 Tomas Ingels (Bel) 10 Kris Ceulemans (Bel) 2.20 11 Barry Vissers (Bel) 12 Gijs Jongeling (Ned) 13 Kenny Van Campenhout (Bel) 14 Davy Paeshuyse (Bel) 15 Bert Van Elsen (Bel) 16 Udo Janssen (Bel) 17 Kevin Strijbos (Bel) 18 Gerrit Segers (Bel) 19 Jeroen van Raak (Ned) 20 Andy Debruyne (Bel) 21 Franky Van Honsebrouck (Bel) 22 Frank Giesbers (Bel) 23 Frederik Dobbels (Bel) 24 Thomas Heiremans (Bel) 25 Wim Vanleene (Bel) 26 Nico De Coninck (Bel) 27 Sven Blyn (Bel) Masters B 1 Jan Van Donink (Bel) 2 Marc Druyts (Bel) 3 Wim Krieckemans (Bel) 4 Dirk Mertens (Bel) 5 Franky Van Tongelen (Bel) 6 Danny Verhestraeten (Bel) 7 Marc Coolen (Bel) 8 Mark Meys (Bel) 9 Mario Pauwels (Bel) 10 Eric Laforge (Bel) 11 Andy Van Looy (Bel) 12 Ludwig Gladines (Bel) 13 Eric De Graef (Bel) 14 Dirk Bryssinckx (Bel) 15 Er Brown (USA) 16 Kris Van Honste (Bel) 17 Tom Perkins (USA) Masters C 1 Rudy Bloemen (Bel) 2 Daniel Van Oosterwijck (Bel) 3 Chris Geerts (Bel) 4 Jose De Clercq (Bel) 5 Dirk Van Sinay (Bel) 6 Luc Van Wesenbeeck (Bel) 7 Eric Van Steerteghem (Bel) 8 Alex Spruyt (Bel) 9 Eddy Wandels (Bel) 10 Jan Guido Geudens (Bel) 11 André Clemmen (Bel) 12 Guy Ceuppens (Bel) 13 Laurent De Vos (Bel) 14 Gary Noe (USA) 15 Tomain Tuteleers (Bel) 16 Rik Ponseele (Bel) 17 Albert Bertels (Bel) 18 Roland Hurtecant (Bel)