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2006 Cyclocross World Championships - CM
Zeddam, Netherlands, January 28-29, 2006
Race 2 - January 28: Espoirs
Stybar wins cat and mouse Espoir race
By Steve Medcroft
Zdnek Stybar of the Czech Republic successfully defended his Cyclo-cross Espoir World Championship jersey in Zeddam Saturday afternoon. In a powerful three-way battle with Lars Boom (Ned) and Niels Albert (Bel), Stybar was able to build just enough of an advantage to overcome a finishing straight flat and take the win a mere bike length ahead of second place.
The whole seven lap race was an on the rivet affair for the three powerhouse espoirs. Starting at 2:30 under below freezing but clear skies, the three main players escaped a stack up on the starting straight and a tight group fought for positions in the lead group on the first lap. It was Belgian Espoir National Champion Albert who took an early ten second advantage. He says the attack wasn't planned. "Lars Boom did such a fast first lap that I wanted to keep the momentum but then suddenly the gap was ten seconds. At that point, I had to keep going."
Albert held the lead until Boom caught back on with four laps to go. One lap later, Albert, Boom and the hard-chasing Stybar, came together through the start-finish line. The three stayed together through the middle of the race with no one rider ever taking any advantage. Until.
Stybar, who had been leading the race, lost control of his front wheel on a tight turn and put himself and Niels onto the ground. "My front wheel slipped out," Stybar said after the race. "I was thinking about trying to run through the turn, to see if that was a place to attack later in the race but I changed my mind at the last second and rode it too tight."
Although Boom was trapped behind the crash for a few seconds while the two other riders picked themselves up and untangled their bikes, he used the momentum to get to the front and press the pace. The relentless Stybar closed quickly. Albert dangled just behind. Coming through the start/finish straight heading out for their final lap, the three riders were once again came together and each seemed apprehensive as to when was the right time to attack. In the end, each has just a small moment in the chaos of that final lap to thank for their position on the podium.
Albert ran into the elbow of a spectator and took a blow he says lost him a few precious seconds. "He (the spectator) was probably just trying to take a photo and I'm not saying that I lost the World Championships because of it but I lost a few seconds," Albert said through tears at the finish line. "It is something that can happen but it is a shame it happened to me."
Boom, who had carefully planned his season to peak for World's (he only started racing in November and says his ultimate spot on the podium is a testament to the fact that he executed his preparation perfectly) fell off the front after an ill-timed bike change. "I made a mistake to change my bike," he said. "I didn't need it and I lost a few precious seconds."
Stybar, who had soloed to win his first World Championship in St. Wendel under similar course conditions (tricky, frozen ground), says all he could think of in the final lap of the 2006 race was that he wanted to avoid an outright sprint for the win. But with only a bike-length on Boom, he says the course gave him nothing to attack with. "Everything was so fast, there was not even a moment to think about where to attack."
Still at the front in the final meters (due to the other riders small losses) Stybar got clear enough on a dusty farm-road descent leading to the finishing straight. His gap came at a dangerous price though; the Czech Republic rider pinch-flatted his front tire just before the transition from dirt to roadway. "If it had happened 100 meters sooner, I would not have won," he said.
Stybar says that although he will be entering the pro classes next season with two World Championship jerseys in his kit bag, he knows he will have a lot of work to do be able to compete against the current class of elite riders
The American team struggled in the U23 race after a start-line pile up. It's best-placed rider, Jesse Anthony, earned only 41st place. The American rider with the worst time of it though was U.S. U23 National Champion Troy Wells. During the crash at the start, Wells collided with a section of barrier and spent the entire day bleeding from the crown of his nose and riding a mellow pace at the back of the field.
Constantly hovering near the rear of the race was an unusual five-man national team. Reminiscent of the now-famous Jamaican Bobsled team of Olympics competition, Zimbabwe entered five racers in the U23 event. The team (Jackson Vijarona, Brian Zengeni, Gorden Martin, Prince Ngundu and Nquobizitha Tsabalala) finished 49th through 53rd out of 55 scored finishers.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luc Claessen/www.actiefotos.be
Images by AFP Photo
1 Zdnek Stybar (Czech Republic) 51.01 2 Lars Boom (Netherlands) 3 Niels Albert (Belgium) 0.02 4 Aurelio Fontana (Italy) 1.03 5 Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland) 1.08 6 Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands) 1.25 7 Romain Villa (France) 1.31 8 Jempy Drucker (Luxembourg) 1.32 9 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Belgium) 1.37 10 Paul Voss (Germany) 1.38 11 Jonathan Lopez (France) 1.40 12 Thijs Van Amerongen (Netherlands) 1.43 13 Pirmin Lang (Switzerland) 1.49 14 Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) 1.53 15 Frantisek Kloucek (Czech Republic) 1.54 16 Derik Zampedri (Italy) 2.10 17 Luca Damiani (Italy) 2.12 18 Clément Lhotellerie (France) 2.30 19 Ondrej Bambula (Czech Republic) 2.32 20 Yves Corminboeuf (Switzerland) 2.33 21 Ian Field (Great Britain) 2.45 22 Philipp Walsleben (Germany) 2.48 23 Eddy Van Ijzendooren (Netherlands) 3.01 24 Lukas Kloucek (Czech Republic) 3.02 25 Felix Gniot (Germany) 3.22 26 Jan Soetens (Belgium) 3.23 27 Rafael Visinelli (Italy) 3.25 28 Finn Heitmann (Germany) 3.39 29 Julien Taramarcaz (Switzerland) 3.41 30 Alex Izquierdo (Spain) 3.42 31 Andreas Moser (Switzerland) 3.47 32 Pavel Adel (Czech Republic) 3.56 33 Ricardo Van Der Velde (Netherlands) 4.04 34 Rob Peeters (Belgium) 4.05 35 Florian Le Corre (France) 4.09 36 Thorsten Struch (Germany) 4.12 37 Ruben Ruzafa (Spain) 4.22 38 Michal Werstak (Poland) 4.37 39 Clément Cid (France) 4.50 40 David Claerebout (Luxembourg) 5.09 41 Jesse Anthony (United States Of America) 5.35 42 Asier Corchero (Spain) 5.51 43 Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) 5.56 44 Daniel Neyens (United States Of America) 6.09 45 Marius Petrache (Romania) 7.05 46 Ryan Hopping (Canada) 7.34 47 Erlantz Uriarte (Spain) 8.06 48 Brady Kappius (United States Of America) 1 lap 49 Jackson Vijarona (Zimbabwe) 50 Brian Zengeni (Zimbabwe) 51 Gorden Martin (Zimbabwe) 52 Prince Ngundu (Zimbabwe) 53 Nquobizitha Tsabalala (Zimbabwe) 54 Adam Mcgrath (United States Of America) 55 Troy Wells (United States Of America) DNF Davide Malacarne (Italy) Nations ranking 1 Netherlands 20 2 Belgium 26 3 Czech Republic 35 4 France 36 5 Italy 37 6 Switzerland 38 7 Germany 57 8 Spain 109 9 United States of America 133 10 Zimbabwe 150 11 Luxembourg 48 12 Great Britain 21 13 Poland 38 14 Japan 43 15 Romania 45 16 Canadda 46