2012 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships
Day Two - Elite Men
Niels Albert (BEL) is the 2012 new world Cyclo-Cross champion after a gun to flag ride in front of an adoring crowd of mainly Belgians at the legendary Koksijde course. Albert was off on his own almost straight away and, apart from the second lap when his lead dropped a little, he steadlity rode clear of the pack to win just as impressively as Marianne Vos had earlier in the day in the women’s race.
Albert has the defending world champion Zdenek Stybar for company during the first half lap or so, but the Czech rider had no answer when the Belgian attacked mid lap. Albert had a gap of 12 seconds at the end of that opening circuit. That was briefly brought back to jst 5 seconds at then end of the second lap, with fellow Belgian Kevin Pauwels working hard to bridge across to him.
However, Pauwels could not quite make the connection and Albert steadily built his lead through the middle laps of the 10 lap race, so that at 2 laps to go he had a comfortable margin of 47 seconds.
Behind him, Pauwels was joined by former world champion Sven Nys and they seemed to be pulling clear too for several laps. However, a group of four more Belgians formed and began to close down on these two chasers. It was a slow attritional process, but finally, on lap 7 the chasing group was a consolidated one of 7 riders, all Belgians, with Rob Peeters, Klaas Ventounout, Bart Aernouts and Tom Meeusen having joined Nys and Pauwels.
Albert had by this time long disappeared into the distance and the rest of the field was effectively out of it. With the home crowd roaring them on the Belgian chase train did manage to close down Albert a little in the closing couple of laps. Pauwels, Peeters and Meeusen meanwhile drifted clear of the rest of the chase group and went into the last lap knowing they would decide the silver and bronze medal places.
Albert duly cruised in to claim the win, to huge cheers from the crowd. Peeters took a flyer mid lap and gave Pauwels and Meeusen the slip going on to claim the silver – British fans may remember him winning the final round of the 2009-10 National Trophy at Rutland Water. Pauwels took a deserved bronze, after doing a lot of the work at the front of the chase. But it was Albert’s day and a popular end to the weekend for the massed ranks of Belgians, who must have loved the sight of seven of their countrymen crossing the line in the leading seven positions.
Britain's Ian Field finished 36th, whilst Paul Oldham didn't finish.
1. Niels Albert (BEL) 1.06:07
2. Rob Peeters (BEL) @ 00:24
3. Kevin Pauwels (BEL) @ 00:30
4. Tom Meeusen (BEL) @ 00:34
5. Bart Aernouts (BEL) @ 00:35
6. Klaas Vantornout (BEL) @ 01:09
7. Sven Nys (BEL) @ 01:11
8. Radomir Simunek (CZE) @ 02:15
9. Philipp Walsleben (GER) @ 02:25
10. Simon Zahner (SUI) @ 02:31
36. Ian Field (GBR) @ 3 laps
Paul Oldham (GBR) dnf