The course on the slopes of the impressive citadel in Namur, Belgium, turned out to be a very demanding challenge for the cyclo-cross peloton on Sunday. Strong gusts of wind and rain, slippery descents and long climbs were the main ingredients for a spectacular fourth round of the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup. French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) and US-champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) coped best with the tough circumstances and claimed strong solo victories.
It’s not often Francis Mourey claims the win in the World Cup, his only other win came in 2007 in Treviso, but the tough course surely suited his abilities. Mourey kicked off with a good start and the Frenchman led throughout the opening lap. Behind him world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) completely missed his start due to a flat tyre and he ended up riding at the back of the pack. Mourey was accompanied by a handful other riders after that strong first lap. During the following laps the initiative was taken over by Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC) and Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink/Leontien.nl) but the duo was unable to hold on to their lead. Halfway the race Mourey surged forward once again and this time he was gone for good. Behind him the likes of Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) were unable to close the gap and they focused on second place. That clearly wasn’t what Nys planned as he rode a fantastic race and suddenly joined the chase group during the penultimate lap. Nys used the momentum to try and get back to Mourey but that attempt fell short on the off-camber section where Nys tumbled in the mud. Vantornout took second, Albert third.
World Cup leader Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) rode an intelligent race and his fifth place behind Nys was more than enough to remain in the overall lead of the World Cup. His closest rival Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) only managed a ninth place.
In the Women’s race there was a similar situation with a well-started Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women) and a poorly started Katie Compton. In contrast to Mourey early leader Vos was unable to hold keep up the high pace. Vos possibly lacked race rhythm after taking a break from competition at the end of October. While Vos had to shift back Compton made her way through the pack. Halfway the second of four laps Compton bridged up to Vos and immediately left her behind.
During the second half of the race Compton extended her lead. Vos got into a fight with Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) for second place. US-champion Compton won by forty seconds over Vos who held off Harris by a mere six seconds. Italian champion Eva Lechner (Colnago-Sudtirol) won the battle for fourth place at 1:20 from the winner. In the overall standings of the World Cup the lead of Compton increases up to 45 points over Harris.