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Superprestige #5 - Veghel-Eerde - C1
Veghel-Eerde, Netherlands, December 9, 2007
Race 5 - December 9: Elite Men
Nys bounces back climbing hill up rubbish dump
Albert puts up strong fight
By Brecht Decaluwé
After Niels Albert (Palmans-Cras) ended Sven Nys' 13-win Superprestige streak in the last round in Gieten, Nys' coach Paul Van Den Bosch predicted his rider would give the race today in Veghel-Eerde his all, and that's just what Nys did. The Belgian Rabobank rider waited one lap and then seemingly without an effort he rode away from the opposition as team-mate Lars Boom blocked the chase.
Nys quickly created a 20" gap on the big guns, who declined to chase, although the hungry young Albert launched a counter-attack. Fellow Belgian Albert joined the leader halfway the fourth lap when Nys slipped in a corner. A few moments later the UCI points leader punctured and was left behind.
Three riders were left to battle within a few seconds of each other. Albert was in the lead, Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) trailed by 10 seconds and Nys was in between. Belgian champion Wellens couldn't go any faster and dropped back while Nys managed to re-join Albert in the lead during the sixth lap.
Eventually Nys launched an effort that would decide the race in the last lap. He created a small gap on the course's executioner, the "Eerde climb", which is nothing more than an old rubbish dump. The young Palmans rider could no longer stay with the more experienced Nys, who went on to claim his fourth Superprestige win of the season. By winning in Veghel-Eerde, Nys reinforced his lead on Wellens in the Superprestige Series, growing it from eight to ten points with only three races remaining.
UCI leader Nys was challenged by Albert, but got away from him in the end. "I had a very good start and could get a gap thanks to my team-mate Boom. Then I started to make mistakes and Albert could come back," Nys said.
Soon after, Albert managed to ride away from Nys when the latter had to change bikes. "I punctured just before the pit and had to work very hard to come back on Albert. On the climb I knew I could get a couple of metres, although I was surprised that Albert ran so fast." Nys recognized that Albert is increasingly becoming more of a threat. "It was a hard fought victory. In the last lap it was pretty tight but my advantage is that I could ride up that hill."
"For me it's hard to focus these days," Nys said, attributing his lack of concentration to the end-of-the-year ceremonies where he has been regularly honored. Last week he won the "crystal bike" award for the best Belgian cyclist, ahead of Tom Boonen who won the green jersey in the Tour de France. "I try to enjoy it all but as soon as I can I focus on the next race."
Albert was disappointed that he couldn't convert his great form into a win in Veghel-Eerde. "I had a terrible start, despite being on the first row. I was back in 15th position and then Nys could get away; that's sad," Albert said. "I felt that Nys was a little stronger than me and I could only come back on him because he made a mistake. In the last lap Nys could ride away on the hill because I was tired after working so hard to join Nys in front. I had to allow the gap on the climb because Nys is 10 years older... and 10 years stronger."
Belgian champion Wellens was still smiling after the finish despite missing out on the win once again. "I didn't have a good day. I was still a bit tired after a hard training week. I constantly rode on my limit and more than this third place wasn't possible. I just couldn't get back to Nys and noticed he was getting back on Albert.
"I hoped that the leaders would hesitate so I could come back to the front," said Wellens, "but Albert kept hammering although he would've had a bigger chance on the win if I would have been there. It's understandable since his enthusiasm makes him just focus on going hard," Wellens said. "I couldn't come back to the front by myself so I had to hope on help from the front, but that didn't happen."
American Jonathan Page (Sunweb Pro Job) had a terrible start and was never in contention for Superprestige points in Veghel-Eerde. The number two from last year's worlds was fighting with Ben Berden (Revor Cycling Team) and Marco Bianco (Arcobaleno Carraro) for a top 20 result, and he did a lot of work in the groups. Eventually Page had to settle for a 21st place.
The next Superprestige leg is in Diegem on December 30. It will be a spectacular race near Brussels since the race is scheduled for 5:00 pm local time, just after daylight ends. Floodlights will provide the necessary illumination for the riders and the public.
How it unfolded
Local hero Lars Boom took a blitz start before Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) and Sven Nys. World champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) had a good start as well while Bart Wellens was in tenth position and Niels Albert was in 15th. Jonathan Page suffered a poor start, despite a second row starting position, and he was soon in 30th position together with team-mate Tom Vannoppen.
Only Nys was able to ride the "Eerde climb", which is nothing more than a covered rubbish dump where others had to run. Italian champion Enrico Franzoi (Lampre Fondital) seemed to have no fun in riding around or walking up the climb. Radomír Simunek (Palmans-Cras ) took over the lead after the climb; he led a dozen riders over the finish line after the first lap. Page moved forward to 17th position, together with Ben Berden.
Nys accelerated on a fast technical section with Boom playing team tactics to perfection in front of the chasing group. The UCI leader quickly gathered ten seconds on Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Pro Job) who started the chase on his buddy. Franzoi was still riding around but without a chance for the victory. Nobody came back to Nys and after the second lap 15 riders were 25 seconds down. Page led the next group with Franzoi and Berden at 35 seconds off leader Nys.
Stybar launched a counter-attack on Nys, and the young Czech was joined by Wilant Van Gils (ZZPR.nl), Sven Vanthourenhout, Albert and Vervecken. Albert, who won in Gieten, took over the command and nobody could follow the Palmans rider. By the end of the third lap, Nys had 9 seconds on Albert. Coming over the Eerde climb Wellens launched his counter-attack, and he was joined by Van Gils. The duo trailed Nys by 20 seconds. A six-man group including Vervecken was 25" down on Nys.
Due to a surprising crash by Nys as he was cornering onto the pavement half-way through the fourth lap, Albert joined the leader. Wellens and Van Gils were 10" down on the leaders, and they were kept in sight by Thijs Al (BeOne CRC Team). Simunek followed 30" behind the leaders. Vervecken led a group with Vanthourenhout and Stybar.
Nys changed bikes during the fifth lap and Albert took advantage to create a 30 meter gap, as the pit was on a fast part of the course. Page was still riding in the company of Berden and Marco Bianco.
Nys came back up to Albert in the sixth lap, while Wellens lost contact with the two guys in front. Nys joined Albert on the Eerde climb and together they distanced the rest of the field.
With two laps to go Albert and Nys had 14" on Wellens. Al and Van Gils were 40" down and a big group with Rob Peeters, Vervecken, Stybar, Simunek, Boom, Richard Groenendaal all one minute down on the leaders.
In the penultimate lap all the standings remained the same, with Wellens still at 15" off the leaders. Albert led the duo throughout the lap and Nys made a couple of errors behind him but Albert couldn't drop the UCI leader.
Both riders watched each other nervously during the build-up towards the Eerde climb in the last lap. Nys took the lead just before the climb and then stormed up it. Surprisingly Albert stayed on his bike as well, but he was one bikelength behind. In the following climb Nys ran up as quickly as he could and Albert fell a bit further back.
1 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 1.01.50 2 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans-Cras 0.08 3 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.34 4 Thijs Al (Ned) BeOne CRC Team 0.42 5 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) ZZPR.nl 0.44 6 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.50 7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 0.57 8 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Sport Drinks 1.10 9 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 1.16 10 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 1.25 11 Radomír Simunek (Cze) Palmans-Cras 1.39 12 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 13 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 14 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 15 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 2.08 16 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 17 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 2.37 18 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 2.52 19 Marco Bianco (Ita) Arcobaleno Carraro 2.57 20 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Palmans-Cras 3.13 21 Jonathan Page (USA) Sunweb Pro Job 3.26 22 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Easypay Cyclocross Team 4.19 23 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 4.36 One lap behind 24 Peter Van Santvliet (Bel) AVB USspa.be Cycling 25 Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) 26 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 27 Bart Dirkx (Ned) TWC Tempo/BMV 28 Tom De Kort (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 29 Robin Seymour (Irl) 30 Mathijs Wagenaar (Ned) 31 Harm Bronkhorst (Ned) 32 Peter Van Den Heuvel (Ned) 33 Oscar Vazquez-Crespo (Spa) 34 Jean-Pierre Leyten (Ned) 35 Torsten Wittig (Ger) BRC Zugvogel 36 Arnaud Van Leest (Ned) ZRTC Theo Middelkamp Superprestige standings after five rounds 1 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 74 pts 2 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 64 3 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 54 4 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans-Cras 50 5 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Sport Drinks 43 6 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 37 7 Wilant Van Gils (Ned) ZZPR.nl 33 8 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 33 9 Thijs Al (Ned) BeOne CRC Team 31 10 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 26 11 Radomír Simunek (Cze) Palmans-Cras 19 12 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 17 13 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 16 14 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 15 15 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux 14 15 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 14 15 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 14 18 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 10 19 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 9 20 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 8 21 Christian Heule (Swi) Stevens Racing Team 5 21 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 5 23 Jan Soetens (Bel) 4 24 Jonathan Page (USA) Sunweb Pro Job 3 25 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Palmans-Cras 2 26 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 1 25 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 1