A sunny autumn day in November provided for great racing at the third UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round of the season in Koksijde, Belgium. Both Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Katherine Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) and all winners in the youth categories captured convincing solo victories in the dunes next to the North Sea.
The win from Albert was very impressive. During the fourth of nine laps he left his last rivals behind by clocking the only sub-seven minutes lap time of the day on the tough sandy course. The next four laps Albert kept going flat out and he led his first rivals by a minute, taking away all aspirations for the win from them. At the finish line Albert had time to copy the memorable finish from his compatriot Paul Herijgers, when the latter won the world championships on the same location in 1994. A smiling Albert waved to the crowd, hopped off his bike and back on it before crossing the line and taking his first World Cup win of the season. In the battle for second place German champion Philipp Walsleben (BCKP-Powerplus) and French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) had the upper hand in the final laps. The duo was joined by world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) during the penultimate lap but in the sprint Mourey and Walsleben captured the final podium spots at half a minute from Albert. Despite finishing off the pace in tenth place Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) remains in the overall lead of the World Cup standings.
In the Women’s category Katie Compton left her rivals already behind in the first lap of the race. The US-champion never eased off and reached the finish line more than a minute ahead of runner-up Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP). Belgian champion Cant battled with British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) for that second place but the young Belgian showed maturity and made no mistake in the dunes of Koksijde. A very quick start from Sabine Stultiens (Rabo Women Cycling Team) was rewarded with a fourth place at the finish line. Fellow quick starter Helen Wyman (Kona) blew up her engine but salvaged her World Cup ranking by placing sixth. In those ranking Compton now comfortably leads with 170 points which is thirty more than Harris. World Cup leader Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) left no doubt about his ambitions in the Men Under 23 category and took a blistering start in Koksijde. World champion Mike Teunissen and Belgian champion Laurens Sweeck were the last riders who kept the Dutchman in sight. Sweeck won the battle for second place at 41s from Van der Poel. The latter strengthens his lead in the World Cup standings as previous second-placed Wout Van Aert only managed a 15th place in Koksijde. Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) was third in Koksijde and he takes over second place at forty points from the leader.