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Cyclo-Cross World Cup #9 - CDM
Hoogerheide, Netherlands, January 20, 2008
Race 4 - January 20: Elite Men
Boom becomes the man to beat
By Brecht Decaluwé in Hoogerheide
Dutch ace Lars Boom won the final rehearsal for next week's world championships and turned himself into a big favourite for the title in Treviso, Italy. On the swampy course which will be used for the 2009 World Championships, he overpowered the opposition and won with more than thirty seconds advantage over Bart Wellens.
"I always tried to stay within the top three so I could keep an overview," Boom said of his tactics in Hoogerheide. "With this win my pre-season goals are already accomplished and at the worlds I will be satisfied with a top five result," the Dutch World Championship hopeful said.
During the first half of the race the formation of the leading group changed routinely, but the one constant member was Boom who was marking every attack. Halfway through the race Boom also featured in a three-man lead group, together with world champion Erwin Vervecken and Bart Wellens.
With three laps to go Boom got rid of his two companions and powered to his third World Cup victory of the season. When asked about the moment where world champion Vervecken bowed his head and got blown off Boom's wheel, the youngster smiled, "I didn't attack today, I just accelerated a little when Vervecken told me he couldn't take a pull." It was the moment Boom his last rival in the race behind.
Wellens had to settle for his fifth consecutive second place in a World Cup race, clearly showing he's riding at a more constant level than previous seasons.
"Before the race I realized that it would be hard, as I rode yesterday as well," said Wellens explaining why he didn't win. "Nevertheless I'm on schedule for Treviso, and maybe I'm even better than expected. Boom will be beatable next week," Wellens gave himself a good chance on the world title.
Team-mate Vervecken continues to increase his form and will be another favourite in Treviso at the World Championships next weekend.
Jonathan Page, runner-up at the worlds last year, indicated his form is also going the right direction.
"This is a hard race, where strong guys do well. It was a good race for me today and I'm happy," Page said to Cyclingnews. The American was battling for seventh place and eventually sprinted to position number eight after a demanding race. "In our group switching bikes was the deciding factor in the ultimate laps. Pauwels didn't switch bikes in the last lap, he played it well," Page looked back.
The biggest upset in The Netherlands came from Sven Nys who gave a disappointing performance. The UCI-leader had a good start but then started to lose positions. The Belgian eventually finished twelfth, more than two minutes down from winner Boom.
"It doesn't look good for me. I feel terrible although I don't feel ill. It's just not working for me. I can't battle," Nys said at the finish line. "I have no explanation for this, and to head for Treviso with these sensations isn't good, both physically and mentally," said Nys, who didn't show much confidence for the most important race of the season next weekend.
American Jeremy Powers rode to a 26th place, which is great when knowing that cyclocrossworld-rider doesn't like the muddy courses. US National Champion Tim Johnson pulled out after two laps and hopes to have saved something for the world next week.
How it unfolded
Lars Boom (Rabobank) took the hole shot with Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team), Sven Nys (Rabobank) and Richard Groenendaal (AA Sports Drinks) on his wheel. World champion Vervecken took over the command during the first sections of the 2009 world championships course, but halfway through the lap Nys showed he was planning to go deep today and led the bunch.
The first gaps were created when Dutch champion Boom almost came to a standstill on a steep climb and he had to manoeuvre to reach the top, losing contact with Nys. Boom managed to come back to Nys in the drenched meadow by exploiting a narrow band of grass at the side. After one lap Nys and Boom had five seconds on Vervecken, Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Pro Job), Jon Page (Sunweb-Pro Job), Gerben De Knegt (Rabobank), Marco Bianco (Arcobaleno Carraro), Groenendaal and John Gadret (AG2r - La Mondiale). Favourite Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) was in a group behind the first chasers.
Wellens bridged up to the main chasing group on his own halfway the lap, but still had a lot of work to do.
After two laps Vervecken, De Knegt and Vanthourenhout bridged up with the leaders. Groenendaal took the lead in the chasing group where Wellens was slowly moving up. The five leaders were almost caught by six chasers after three laps.
Vervecken took advantage of his good running skills in the soaked meadow and ran away with Boom and Vanthourenhout. Nys came back to the leaders with Wellens on his wheel, and the latter immediately moved up to the lead by the end of the fourth lap.
Again Boom was the man on the wheel of the leader and behind them there was a gap to be closed down. By the end of the fifth lap Vervecken joined the leaders on his own. Page was riding together with De Knegt behind Nys, Vanthourenhout, Gadret and Groenendaal.
The leaders remained the same for awhile with all three riders working a lot; in the chasing group, it was Sven Vanthourenhout who pulled most.
Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) clearly didn't have the best legs today and was riding at the back, far from the leaders.
In the eighth lap the gap between the five chasers and the three leaders was still not impossible to close, but perhaps most remarkable was that Nys was riding mostly at the back of his group.
Wellens blew his engine on a tough section where he choose not to run, like the others. Soon after that he switched bikes and lost contact with the Dutchman and World Champion. In the chasing group there were only three riders left: Gadret, Groenendaal and Vanthourenhout. Nys dropped back to the group with Page, with the UCI-leader not looking good at all. In this group there was also Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team), Steve Chainel (Auber 93) and Bart Aernouts (Rabobank).
Boom was clearly the strongest man in the leading group and rode away from Vervecken on the asphalt road against the wind, without really attacking and with fifteen minutes left in the race. The World Champion dropped back to Wellens, but together posed no threat for the Dutch champion. Eventually Wellens ended up riding on his own at 15" down from Boom, with Vervecken out of contention for the victory.
Boom didn't lose strength and rode safely toward his third World Cup victory of the season. Wellens finished more than half a minute later and World Champion Vervecken lost more than a minute in the last fifteen minutes of the race.
Vanthourenhout won the sprint for fourth place ahead of Groenendaal, with Gadret forced to settle for sixth place. Kevin Pauwels won the battle for seventh, and Page beat De Knegt, Aernouts and Chainel to claim position number eight. UCI-leader Nys crossed the finish line a little later as 12th for his worst World Cup performance of the season.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Isosport
1 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 1.04.43 2 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.36 3 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.12 4 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Pro Job 1.22 5 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Sports Drinks 6 John Gadret (Fra) AG2r - La Mondiale 1.34 7 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.49 8 Jonathan Page (USA) Sunweb-Pro Job 1.58 9 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 10 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 11 Steve Chainel (Fra) Auber 93 2.05 12 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 2.15 13 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 2.55 14 Christian Heule (Swi) Stevens Racing Team 3.09 15 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Palmans-Cras 3.26 16 David Derepas (Fra) VC Roubaix Lille Metropole 3.36 17 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 3.49 18 Marek Cichosz (Pol) CWKS Legia Warszawa 3.51 19 Thijs Al (Ned) BeOne-Chain Reaction Cycles 3.59 20 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 4.11 21 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 4.16 22 Finn Heitmann (Ger) Heinz von Heiden Focus 4.40 23 Marco Bianco (Ita) Arcobaleno Carraro 4.50 24 Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Harvestehuder RSV v. 1909 5.46 25 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida 6.03 26 Jeremy Powers (USA) Cyclocrossworld.Com 27 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) US Domont 6.15 28 Pirmin Lang (Swi) Delta 6.42 29 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb-Pro Job 6.50 30 Maarten Nijland (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam 7.05 31 Malte Urban (Ger) Heinz von Heiden Focus 7.23 32 Michael Müller (Swi) Team Empella Suisse 7.45 33 Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita/Sutter Home Presented By Cooking Light 7.50 34 Joachim Parbo (Den) CCV-Cicli Protek 7.54 35 Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn) 8.06 36 Andreas Moser (Swi) Team Hörmann-Kramer 37 Gusty Bausch (Lux) 8.31 Behind one lap 38 René Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvestehuder RSV v. 1909 39 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) VMC Eschenbach 40 Bart Dirkx (Ned) TWC Tempo/BMV Behind two laps 41 Mike Garrigan (Can) Epic Ride-Jetpower 42 Aron Schooler (Can) 43 Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Behind three laps 44 Pascal Bussieres 45 Martin Vestby (Nor) Norwegian National Team 46 Osmond Bakker (Can) Stevens Cross Behind four laps 47 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team DNF Marius Gil (Pol) DNF Timothy Johnson (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis DNS Václav Metlicka (Svk) Team Kral R.C. Pfeil DNS Jonathan Gormick (Can)