As King Albert II of Belgium bestowed the World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Koksijde, Belgium this Sunday it was upon another Belgian and another Albert, Niels Albert. Amazingly, the entire podium was comprised of Belgians with, Rob Peeters and Kevin Pauwels in the silver and bronze positions. The pre-race favorite, Zdenek Stybar, finished 3 minutes off the pace.
It was during the very first lap of ten that Albert broke away. What at first appeared to be a Belgian tactical move to set the table quickly turned into the move of the race. Only Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels set off in pursuit, but as Nys faded, Belgian Peeters surged to enter the final lap with the small second bunch. Peeters then attacked the group on the final lap for silver while Pauwles finished third.
During the race Niels Albert was untouchable, riding almost the entire ten laps alone. For Pauwles it as his second year in third while last years World Champion, Stybar blamed a long season of racing for tired legs.
I had a really bad day, said Stybar after the arrival. Already in the warm up phase on the rollers I didnt feel very well. Maybe also because of the slight fever that hit me yesterday evening. I tried not to dwell on it and stay focused on the competition. At the start of the race when Albert took off I knew he was going to be a tough customer; he loves these types of routes. I tried to keep up with him but my legs werent responding as they usually do. Honours go to Albert and the entire Belgian team. They were motivated, racing on their home turf and they deserved the victory.