Ian Field 29th as Zdenek Stybar takes UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships title

Ian Field 29th as Zdenek Stybar takes UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships title

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Great Britain’s Ian Field finished 29th in the elite men’s race, the final race of the 2014 Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

Field had a fast start, 16th at the end of lap one. However as the race wore on, the British champion dropped back through the pack to finish 29th.

Fellow Briton David Fletcher finished in 45th place, one lap down on the leaders.

Post-race, team manager Phil Dixon gave credit to Field's performance.

"In his head he had a bit of a target of top-25," he said. "I thought he rode really quite well today. In terms of time down (on the winner) I think that's his best worlds result.

"He was four and a half minutes down, which, when you consider that the front two were a minute up, he's not too far off some world class bike riders. I think he should be pleased with that."

"Dave struggled - whether it was conditions or how he felt on the day - but he did struggle. He didn't cope with it as well as Ian."

The race for the title saw an epic battle between 2013 world champion Sven Nys of Belgium and Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic.

The pair broke away from early leader Francis Mouray (FRA) and Lars Van Der Haar (NED) on lap four and the remainder of the race saw the two heavyweights trade blows and give the huge Hoogerheide crowds an incredible finale to the weekend’s racing.

Attack after attack came, each rider trying to capitalise on the other’s mistakes but with a lap to go it looked like only a two-up sprint would decide the 2014 title.

Yet on the last lap a slip by Nys gave Stybar the opportunity he needed; the Czech, who rides on the road for Omega Pharma Quick Step, attacked before Nys could get back into his stride.

The Belgian was forced onto the back foot, resulting in a further mistake and from then on in it was the Czech’s race, Stybar crossing the line and taking the world title. A disappointed Sven Nys rolled over the line for silver, while behind it was a Belgian log-jam, with Kevin Pauwels third, Klaas Vantornout fourth and Tom Meeusen fifth.

Big losers were Niels Albert of Belgium and Lars Van Der Haar. 2012 world champion Albert had a bad start and had to work hard to get into the top ten, only to drop back to 20th on the line. 2013 bronze medallist Van Der Haar suffered a number of crashes, forcing the young rider to chase the race repeatedly, eventually falling back from title contention to finish without a medal.

Earlier in the day, Great Britain’s Steve James was the best placed Brit in the under-23 men’s race, finishing 31st after gaining around ten places in the latter half of the race.

For much of the first half James and his teammates Adam Martin, Ben Sumner and Jack Clarkson were lapping in the 40s, but as the race wore on, James found the energy to move through a tiring field to knock on the door of a top 30 finish.

James' Great Britain teammates could not follow the Hargroves rider, Ben Sumner and Adam Martin placed 41st and 45th one lap down, while Jack Clarkson placed two laps down in 52nd position.

After the race Phil Dixon summarised the under-23 team performance.

"I think as a group they struggled really today," he said. "But to be fair the standard is really high in the under-23s.

"They've all gone out there and done their best, three got pulled and Steve (James) got round, credit to Steve.

"He's generally quite consistent in terms of lapping - he doesn't slow down so if you have got that approach to racing you tend to pick a few places up back end.

"There's a fair gap between the top under-23s and our under-23s so it will have given those boys something to think about."

At the head of the race, it was Wout Van Aert who took the world title in imperious style, the Belgian taking the lead on the first lap by running up a climb while the lead group of Belgian and Dutch riders stayed on their bikes.

From this point on, Van Aert put the hammer down and began to build a formidable lead. A lap later and it looked like a repeat of the junior men’s race was on the cards as a Belgian 1-2-3 emerged, with Michael Vanthourenhout and Laurens Sweeck taking up second and third places.

The Belgian domination looked complete when Toon Aerts climbed to fourth ahead of the Dutch Van Der Poel brothers, Mathieu and David.

2013 junior world cyclo-cross and road champion Mathieu Van Der Poel was hotly tipped for the win but the Dutchman struggled early on. Yet as the race moved into its latter phase, the 2013/14 under cyclo-cross world cup winner came good and caught the Belgian duo of Aerts and Sweeck to join the battle for bronze.

Up front, gold and silver were a foregone conclusion, with Van Aert hardly putting a knobbly tyre wrong, soloing across the line with delight to take the world title. Vanthorenhout took silver but behind, Van Der Poel had dug deep to gap his Belgian company and salvaged bronze for the home crowd, with Aerts and Sweeck claiming fourth and fifth.

The under-23 men's and elite men's races concluded proceedings in Hoogerheide, which was a landmark worlds for Great Britain, winning their first medal in 14 years. In his summary, Dixon was upbeat about the health of the Great Britain cyclo-cross squad.

"This is the first time I've managed a team at the 'cross worlds and we've been a part of the medal table at the end," said Dixon.

"When you come away from the world champs with a medal, it's always nice. Helen stepped up to the mark and got the medal. Nikki wasn't far off in fifth. So we're the number one ranked nation (for women) in the world.

"There's no reason why Nikki can't reach the podium next year and Helen could climb one or two steps further.

"It's all quite positive going forward - Thomas Craig as a first-year junior and Ian getting more experience and creeping up in the elite men."

Results

Under-23 men
Elite men

TEAM JERSEY 15/16

Team Jersey 15/16

TRACK WORLDS 2016

Track Worlds 2016
British Cycling Lazer Helmets