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2003 CX Worlds

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2004 World Cyclocross Championships - CM

Pont-Château, France, January 31-February 1, 2004

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February 1: Elite Men, 60 minutes

Complete Live Report

14:40 CET    
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's coverage of the fourth and final race of this year's Cyclo-cross World Championships in Pont-Château. The last event will see the Elite Men do battle for 60 minutes (approximately 9 laps) of the 2.65 km Circuit de Coet Roz to determine who will wear the rainbow jersey for 2004-2005. The course is dry today, and it should be a fast race. Although it's been criticised by some as being "too easy", we've seen so far that there are enough climbs on the circuit to break it up.

The smart money is on one of the Belgians taking it out, with Bart Wellens as the top favourite. But watch out for Mario De Clercq, Sven Nys and Erwin Vervecken, all of whom are capable of winning. Among the foreigners, many are tipping Dutch veteran Richard Groenendaal as the man most likely to upset the Belgian apple cart.

14:44 CET    
15 minutes to start, and the atmosphere is tense. Mario De Clercq isn't giving any pre-race interviews, while Sven Nys tells Belgian TV that he would be happy with a podium place, and if he's in that position then "anything is possible."

14:56 CET    
Plenty of Belgian fans are out on the course mixed in with the French crowds, who are enjoying the sunny conditions with temperatures at 14 degrees celsius. The French already had something to celebrate this morning when Laurence Leboucher and Maryline Salvetat took gold and silver in the women's race.

15:00 CET    
All the Belgians are on the front row, with Nys on the far right. Richard Groenendaal (Ned), John Gadret (Fra) and Jiri Pospisil (Cze) are also up there.

The gun goes off! It's a mad scramble for the first corner. There are four Belgians in the top five.

15:02 CET      - Lap 1
Vanthourenhout and Nys take the lead, followed by a Czech rider, then Berden (Bel) and Heule (Swi). De Clercq and Wellens are a little off the pace.

15:04 CET - Lap 1
Nys, Vanthourenhout, Vervecken lead Dlask and Michael Baumgartner (Swi), Groenendaal (Ned) on the first lap. Bart Wellens is the last of the Belgians. Vanthourenhout hammers into the barriers, and opens up a gap.

15:05 CET - Lap 1
The three Belgians (Nys, Vanthourenhout, Vervecken) are controlling the race as they head towards the end of the first lap. Petr Dlask (Cze) and Francis Mourey (Fra) are there, as are Groenendaal, Heule, Baumgartner...De Clercq and Wellens are just out of the top 10.

The first lap is ridden in 6'17, with a bunch of around 15 in the lead.

15:08 CET  - Lap 2
It's a scramble on lap two now as they tackle the first climb. David Seco (Spa) is up the front with the five Belgians. Berden powers along as Nys takes a back seat. Wellens, Vervecken are there and Wellens puts in an acceleration. Five Belgians in the top 6 and one Frenchman.

The bunch is in one long line still - no real gaps among the front riders. Berden hits the barriers first and has the rails run.

15:10 CET- Lap 2
Wellens now takes the second set of barriers in the saddle, while everyone else has to dismount. He looks round, and gets Vanthourenhout, De Clercq, Berden and Mourey on his wheel. Sven Nys is a little off the pace and looks to be in trouble as Wellens drives it up the final climb. Nys has eased up.

Wellens, Vervecken and De Clercq come through at the end of lap 2 in 12'10. Mourey, Vanthourenhout and Nys follow at 10 seconds.

15:13 CET   - Lap 3
Wellens attacks again on the second lap and De Clercq is having problems following him. Vervecken is also there on De Clercq's wheel as Wellens opens up a 10 metre gap. Behind them, Nys, Vanthourenhout and Mourey are chasing. Then the rest of the pack. No sign of Jonathan Page (USA) yet.

15:15 CET  - Lap 3
The three leading Belgians have regrouped again, taking it a bit easier on the technical back section of the course. It's already looking like a clean sweep, but Vanthourenhout and Mourey are closing the gap to the leaders.

15:17 CET  - Lap 3
Wellens leads De Clercq, Mourey, Vervecken, Vanthourenhout and Berden as they approach the end of lap 3. Mourey takes the lead, while the other five Belgians look round to see the damage they've caused. Sven Nys and Petr Dlask are still at 10 seconds, as is Pontoni.

15:20 CET - Lap 4
It's a very tactical race as the leading six hit the first climb, closely pursued by Nys and Dlask. Wellens keeps looking around to see where the chasers are. There's now a loose group of eight riders. Mourey and Dlask are probably feeling a tad outnumbered. Daniele Pontoni has got hismelf up there too, but Nys is not.

15:25 CET - Lap 4
The leading group: De Clercq, Vanthourenhout, Vervecken, De Clercq, Berden, Pontoni and Mourey. Five Belgians versus two foreigners. They ease up, as Berden takes a 7 second lead at the end of lap 4. Total time: 24:42.

Groenendaal, Nys, De Knegt and Dlask are chasing at another 10 seconds.

15:27 CET - Lap 5
Berden leads up the first climb but Wellens puts the power down and closes the gap. De Clercq is right on his wheel and the three have opened up a little gap on the others. Wellens is in great shape today. He goes again, and only De Clercq can hold him. The pair are really damaging the rest of the lead group.

15:29 CET - Lap 5
Wellens looks strong as he leads De Clercq over the first barriers. Berden is now chasing on his own, 3 seconds back. Vanthourenhout, Mourey and Vervecken at at 12 seconds.

Wellens slips on the corner where Van Der Linden slipped in the U23 race yesterday - De Clercq just keeps riding, but doesn't attack. The two Belgians are at the end of Lap 5 now, having opened up a handy lead over Ben Berden, who is back with Mourey, Vanthourenhout and Vervecken.

Total time after five laps: 30:49

15:32 CET - Lap 6
It's looking like a two horse race as De Clercq and Wellens push home their advantage. Mourey slips coming into the first climb and Vanthourenthout accelerates. There's still medals up for grabs.

15:34 CET - Lap 6
The two leaders hit the back side of the course, with 10 seconds lead on Sven Vanthourenhout. De Clercq looks good and is riding a very smart race. He knows there is only one rider to watch, and that's Wellens. De Clercq can sprint too.

Behind Vanthourenhout (3rd), Vervecken, Berden and Mourey are at about 5 seconds.

15:36 CET - Lap 6
Wellens has to get off the bike as he hits the barriers! He loses a lot of ground, and Vanthourenhout comes back. De Clercq is now alone in front.

De Clercq hammers up the final climb, as Wellens has to expend a lot of juice to try and catch him. At the end of the lap, they're together.

Total time: 37:05.

15:38 CET - Lap 7
Wellens and De Clercq have just lapped a Japanese rider as they hit Lap 7. Vanthourenhout has fallen back again, and Ben Berden behind him is annoyed at his attack on the last lap.

Wellens takes a new bike in the pits but loses no time to De Clercq.

15:40 CET - Lap 7
Nys has abandoned - no surprises there. He had another World's shocker, made even worse by the strength of his team.

It's still De Clercq and Wellens in the lead, with Vanthourenhout at 11 seconds, trying to secure that bronze medal. De Clercq and Wellens both dismount on the first barriers. They are looking a bit tired, but they are in the boxed seats. Wellens, as always, looks fresher.

15:43 CET - Lap 7
The situation at the end of lap 7: Wellens and De Cercq lead Vanthourenhout by 8 seconds, then Berden, Vervecken, Pontoni and Mourey at 25 seconds. Dlask, Baumgartner and another Italian rider are at 50 seconds. Who says this course is easy?

Total time: 43:25.

15:45 CET - Lap 8
Vanthourenhout has closed the gap on the first climb of Lap 8. Nice work. He takes the lead and drives it. There'll have to be some decision making soon.

15:46 CET - Lap 8
The leading three have lapped one of the Spanish riders as they continue their 26 km/h average pace. All are off their bikes on the first set of barriers. Vanthourenhout is doing a lot of work.

The trio hit the second set of barriers as one. 20 seconds behind them, Mourey, Vervecken, Berden and Pontoni are chasing fourth place.

Wellens attacks hard on the last climb. De Clercq is right on his wheel. Not surprisingly, Vanthourenhout can't follow. But De Clercq doesn't want to work with Wellens.

Total time: 49:37

15:50 CET - Lap 9
Penultimate lap, and De Clercq and Wellens are once again in the lead. De Clercq is looking dangerous for a fourth world title, and he's helped when Wellens slips again on the first climb and has to work hard to get De Clercq again. Vanthourenhout is about 5 seconds back.

15:52 CET - Lap 9
It's the experience of De Clercq versus the strength and youth of Wellens. So often in bike racing, experience wins the day. Can De Clercq retire with another world title under his belt? We'd have no World Champ riding next season!

The trio are back together again, as Wellens prepares for another attack.

15:54 CET - Lap 9
They hit the second barriers, with De Clercq at the rear. Vanthourenhout is in front now. The gap to the four chasers (Vervecken, Mourey, Pontoni, Berden) is 25 seconds.

15:56 CET - Lap 9
On the final climb of lap 90 now, but there is no do or die attack from Wellens. The trio crest the top together, with Vanthourenhout doing a hard turn. At the end of the lap, Pontoni's group is at 24 seconds still.

Total time: 56:07.

15:57 CET - Lap 10
We're on the last lap now, and Mario De Clercq, Bart Wellens and Sven Vanthourenhout are looking at bringing home a Belgian clean sweep. Wellens attacks really hard on the first climb, but can't shake the dogged De Clercq. Vanthourenhout has to chase again.

15:59 CET - Lap 10
Who will it be? De Clercq or Wellens? It's looking like a two up sprint as the leading pair keep the pressure on. But Vanthourenhout is not giving up.

16:00 CET - Lap 10
The three are back together now with less than half a lap to go. It's very tactical, as Wellens hammers towards the second barriers. Still all together. One more descent and one more climb to come.

16:02 CET - Lap 10
They hit the final climb, with De Clercq in the lead followed by Wellens and Vanthourenhout. No attacks.

The sprint is for the last corner, and Wellens gets it first with De Clercq on his wheel. Vanthourenhout unclips and gets third, but it's Wellens who wins a very tight sprint with De Clercq! Two world titles for Wellens!


1 Bart Wellens (Belgium)          1.02.18
2 Mario De Clercq (Belgium)
3 Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium)
4 Daniele Pontoni (Italy)
5 Ben Berden (Belgium)
6 Erwin Vervecken (Belgium)
7 Francis Mourey (France)
8 Petr Dlask (Czech Republic)
9 Michael Baumgartner (Switzerland) 

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