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2000 World Elite Cyclocross Championship

Saturday, January 30, 2000

Report     Lap by Lap    Results

Rabobank win: at what cost?

The young Belgian Sven Nijs had hoped to be the focus of the World Championships and he was. But not in the way he had dreamed of. When his Dutch Rabobank team mate Richard Groenendaal got a gap on the first lap, Belgian title defender Mario de Clercq had to do the whole job in chasing Groenendaal, Nijs just hung on to his wheel and refused to help in the chase. And Richard Groenendaal won his first elite world title.

The race wasn't really exciting, because Groenendaal jumped away easily in the first lap. He fell during the race once into a fence and hurt his hand a little, but really had no problems and was of course happy with his title. And despite all discussions about tactics, Groenendaal rode faster alone than de Clercq did alone.

Of course the Belgians were disappointed, since Nijs did not help his team to reach the flying Dutchman at the front. The one who lost most on that was probably Nijs. He lost the race and he lost his face but was later forgiven by his national manager Eric de Vleaminck when asked, some hours after the race, about Nijs' future with the national team:

"I can't miss Sven in the future. I forgive him. And don't forget: he has already brought two world titles to Belgium."

For the Belgians there is one "besterd" - Jan Raas, the team manager of Rabobank. He gave the team orders. If the race was undramatic as such there has probably never been such excitement after a race. The two Belgians on the podium looked as if they were at a funeral.

The Belgians talk about what will happen in the next weeks with Sven Nijs. Is he still welcome in his own country? And what will happen during the races with him? His supporters in Sint Michielsgestel were very angry during the race and yelled several uncomplementary nice things to poor Sven.

Here are some more comments on the race:

Laurent De Backer, chairman of the Belgian Cycling Union BWB: "It's very hard for me. If you defend your country, you have to do just that. Otherwise you don't have to go to a World Championship. During the race Nijs talked to his Dutch rival Van der Poel. That just isn't possible, isn't it?"

Sven Nijs: "Mario has to understand my position. I know I will get a lot of reactions now. I'm afraid to go back at home. I heard terrible things from the Belgian people. But I didn't deliberately cause the gap in the first lap! I went to the pits because I thought it was a faster way. Maybe that was my mistake. But I came back in the wheel of Mario and when he had powered a little bit, we should have been in the wheel of Richard quite soon. But Mario didn't do that.

Ben Berden, Belgian rider: "It's not nice, but normally you ride for your boss. Even though it's a race for national teams."

Marc Janssens, Belgian rider: "I understand it. We talked about it before the race on our rooms. We knew Sven shouldn't attack Richard Groenendaal."

Belgian TV commentator: "Richard said yesterday and today: 'If Sven goes in the first laps, I will go and get him. But Sven is so honest. He always asks: Is it allowed to attack? He is so honest he said he helped Groenendaal. Most of the riders don't say such things (while they actually do it). Sven is young and maybe too inexperienced."

Adri van der Poel: Nijs is the best cyclist of this season, but today Richard was the strongest. The Dutch victory is good for cyclo cross. The dominance by the Belgians is otherwise too big. For Richard this is the most important day in his career. A compliment for Sven. He is a real professional.

Adri van Houwelingen of the Rabobank:: The Rabobank give a huge support to cyclo cross. In the past we have lost some races and it has been possible for other riders to win. We have won 80 percent of the races this year. You can't allow yourself to loose the most important one. The team orders were simple. The first half hour every rider was free to attack. But Sven couldn't ride up to Richard with Mario de Clercq in his wheel. Then we should loose this World Championship. In Tabo and Zeddam, in the World Cup, Mario could win because of troubles in our team. Now we made good appointments between Richard and Sven. And Richard was the best one today.

Richard Groenendaal: The team discipline was good and I thank Sven. The best rider attacked in the first lap. I could ride my own race; Sven not. But I don't agree with the angry Belgian audience. Sven is the best rider of this season, but not today. There will be many beautiful years in the future for Sven and for Belgium.

Mario de Clercq gets the final word: "I fought for it, but the best must win."

The race lap by lap:

Wim de Vos sprints away right from the start and there are only Belgians and Dutch at the front of the peloton. After one lap de Vos is caught and Groenendaal has a 10 seconds gap ahead of a group with Vervecken, Nijs, De Vos, De Clercq, Berden, Van Der Poel and De Knegt.

After the second lap Groenendaal's lead has increased to 29 seconds ahead of De Clercq who does all the job and pull Rabobankers Nijs and Van Der Poel along with De Vos and Berden.

After three laps, with four to go, Groenendaal's gap increases, De Clercq still has to work with Nijs and van der Poel trailing. All others are hooked off. It's a race among the big four.

After four laps Groenendaal's lead increases by four seconds to 51 ahead of the same trio.

After five laps, with two to go, Groenendaal is down to 47 seconds again. De Clercq yells at Nijs to help but his young compatriot refuses to chase down his Rabobank team mate. Belgian team leader Eric de Vlaeminck jumps up and down and is furious over Nijs. This is after all a race between nations.

One lap to go. De Clercq struggling to reach Groenendaal 51 seconds ahead. Nijs trailing. Belgian TV commentators asked themselves why Sven Nijs changed bike just after the first lap, causing a gap in the front of the peloton.

End of race: Groenendaal managed to hold the lone ranger de Clercq off by 38 seconds. Nijs never dared to sprint for second and the conversation in the Belgian locker room after the race would be interesting to hearů

Normally the podium is one big party with happy people, but... Mario de Clercq cries during the ceremony, Sven Nijs isn't happy at all. He has a lot to explain to the Belgian news papers. Groenendaal sheds some tears of joy, though.

The weather is a bit rainy with varying winds and 11.5 centigrades. 30 000 - 40 000 people have gathered to see 55 riders fight for the rainbow jersey.


1 Richard Groenendaal (Ned)      59.57 (21.537 kph)
2 Mario de Clercq (Bel)           0.38
3 Sven Nijs (Bel)                 0.42
4 Adrie van der Poel (Ned)        1.18
5 Wim de Vos (Ned)                1.50
6. Ben Berden (Bel)
7. Peter van Santvliet (Bel)      2.08
8. Gerben de Knegt (Ned)          2.17
9. Daniele Pontoni (Ita)
10. Dominique Arnould (Fra)
11. Christophe Morel (Fra)        2.23
12. Roland Schatti (Swi)          2.57
13. Radomir Simunek (Cze)         3.07
14. Alessandro Fontana (Ita)      3.09
15. Beat Wabel (Swi)              3.12
16. Marc Janssens (Bel)           3.38
17. Roger Hammond (Gbr)           3.48
18. Tadeusz Korzeniewski (Pol)    4.03
19. Petr Dlask (Cze)              4.29
20. Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)          4.43
21. Alexandre Moos (Swi)          4.47
22. Igor Tavella (Ita)            5.01
23. Vaclav Jezek (Cze)            5.10
24. Henrik Djernis (Den)          5.18
25. Maarten Nijland (Ned)         5.27
26. Robert Glajza (Svk)           5.28
27. Jiri Pospisil (Cze)           6.00
28. Massimo Sargenti (Ita)        6.18
29. Marc Gullikson (USA)          6.20
30. Pascal Triebel (Lux)
31. Matthew Ellis (Gbr)
32. Barton Bowen (USA)
33. Luca Bramati (Ita)            6.24
34. Jan Ramsauer (Swi)            7.05
35. David Pagnier (Fra)           7.12
36. David Seco Amundarain (Spa)   7.28
37. Justin Robinson (USA)         7.37
38. Dale Knapp (USA)              7.46
39. Stuart Blunt (Gbr)            7.59
40. Raita Suzuki (Jpn)            8.32
41. Tomasz Kiendys  (Pol)         1 lap
42. Viliam Liptak (Svk)

Intermediate results:

First lap:

1. Groenendaal      7.33 (22.76 kph)
2. Vervecken        0.10
3. Nijs
4. de Vos
5. de Clercq
6. Berden
7. van der Poel
8. de Knegt

Second lap
1. Groenendaal      14.51 (22.34 kph)
2. de Clercq         0.29
3. Nijs
4. de Vos
5. Berden
6. van der Poel
7. Vervecken

Third lap:
1. Groenendaal      22.13 (22.13 kph)
2. de Clercq         0.43
3. Nijs
4. de Vos
5. van der Poel
6. Berden

Fourth lap:
1. Groenendaal      29.37 (22.00 k ph)
2. de Clercq         0.47
3. Nijs
4. van der Poel
5. de Vos            1.02
6. Berden            1.15
7. Pontoni           1.26
8. Jezek             1.26

Fifth lap:
1. Groenendaal      37.11 (21.82 kph)
2. de Clercq         0.51
3. Nijs
4. van der Poel
5. de Vos (no time indication)

8. de Knegt          1.40
9. Pontoni           1.48

Sixth lap:
1. Groenendaal      44.42 (21.73 kph)
2. de Clercq         0.47
3. Nijs

Seventh lap:
1. Groenendaal      52.11 (21.67 kph)
2. de Clercq         0.51
3. Nijs
4. van der Poel      1.11
5. de Vos            1.46
6. van Santvliet     2.13
7. Berden            2.13
8. de Knegt          2.15