With a powerful solo ride, Niels Albert finished a respectable distance in front of World Cup leader Lars van der Haar and Sven Nys. Albert attacked a small lead group at the beginning of the third lap and the Belgian was never caught back.
Outside of the top-10 World Cup leader Van der Haar struggled with the slippery conditions while second-placed Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) rode in the first chase group behind Albert. As the race went by a heavy rain shower came down on the riders and the muddy course. Walsleben faded while Van der Haar was moving up. In the fifth lap Van der Haar bridged up to Walsleben and quickly left the German behind. World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) was also moving up through the field and together with Van der Haar he caught up with first chaser Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr). Together with the French champion they tried to get back to leader Albert, who was only a dozen of seconds ahead of the trio when hitting the eighth and final lap. Albert stood tall and won his second World Cup round of the season. Van der Haar won the sprint for second place ahead of Nys at only five seconds of Albert; Mourey didn’t sprint along and finished fourth.
In the World Cup standings Van der Haar now holds a bonus of 54 points on Albert and 63 points on Walsleben, who finished eleventh in Rome. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) didn’t start in Rome and tumbles from third to fifth overall in the World Cup standings.
In the Women’s category Katie Compton and World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) fought out a race long duel in Rome on Sunday afternoon. At first they were joined by Belgian rider Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) but she faded by the end of the first lap. Compton and Vos exchanged accelerations without causing major damage. During the third of four laps Vos struggled to keep up with Compton a firs time but she fought her way back to Compton’s wheel. Compton kept the pace high and halfway the final lap, at the switchbacks, which cut deep into the energy levels, Vos had to bow her head. At the finish line Compton had an advantage of twenty-four seconds. Italian champion Eva Lechner (Centro Sportivo Esercito) was best of the rest at more than a minute from winner Compton.
Lechner won the battle for the final podium spot from French rider Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) with a final lap acceleration. The Italian spectators clearly appreciated the strong ride from their local favourite, who placed herself on the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup podium for the first time ever. Nearly two minutes from the winner British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) finished in ninth place. Nevertheless Harris remains in second place in the World Cup standings, 28 points ahead of Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) and 39 points ahead of Vos.
The next round of the World Cup is held in Nommay, France, in three weeks time.