Great Britain’s Nikki Harris finished sixth at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Belgium, while national champion, Ian Field, was the only British rider to finish in a men’s race dominated by the Belgium team.
Any doubt that Belgium rules the world of men’s cyclo-cross was removed at the world championships yesterday (29) when home riders took the first seven places on the infamous sand of Koksijde.
Niels Albert won his second world title in an emphatic victory that saw him lead from start to finish and win by 24 seconds, vanquishing defending champion Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) who had been attempting to win his third consecutive world title.
Albert had described the strength-sapping Koksidje course as a “long time trial” and afterwards said his victory, which brought him a second world championship, was the pinnacle of his career.
“This I will never have to surpass. World champion in my own country, and even then in Koksijde, a legendary circuit,” he said.
Albert’s countryman, Kevin Pauwels, who last week clinched victory in the season-long UCI World Cup, was third, behind fellow Belgian, Tom Meeusen.
Sven Nys (Beligum) who had won three rounds of the world cup, could only manage sixth, over a minute down on Albert. Ian Field was the only finisher from the Great Britain team, crossing the line in 36th place.
Stybar was philosophical after the race, blaming his poor performance on a slight fever suffered the night before the race. He praised his successor in the rainbow bands of world champion, and thanked the Belgian crowd for their support.
“The further back I fell in the classification, the more the public supported me. I’d like to thank them all; it was a magical moment, unforgettable,” he said.
Stybar left open the question of his continued involvement in the cyclo-cross scene. He will race on the road in 2012 with the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team.
Marianne Vos continued her dominance of women’s cyclo-cross, adding a record fifth world title to her impressive palmares.
The Netherlands rider finished 37 seconds ahead of compatriot, Daphny Van Den Brand, who crossed the line just one second ahead of Sanne Cant.
“My fourth in a row, with the crowd and on this track, it’s very special. It’s a great to start the year,” she said.
Nikki Harris was Great Britain’s highest finisher, crossing the line in sixth place, just over a minute down on Vos. British champion, Helen Wyman, rode to a gutsy thirteenth place after a head-first crash in the Koksijde sand.
Results – Men’s
1) Niels Albert (BEL)
2) Rob Peeters (BEL)
3) Kevin Pauwels (BEL)
4) Tom Meeusen (BEL)
5) Bart Aernouts (BEL)
6) Klaas Vantornout (BEL)
7) Sven Nys (BEL)
8) Radomir Simunek (CZE)
9) Philipp Walsleben (GER)
10) Simon Zahner (SUI)
Results – Women’s
1) Marianne Vos (NED)
2) Daphny Van Den Brand (NED)
3) Sanne Cant (BEL)
4) Sanne Van Paassen (NED)
5) Katherine Compton (USA)
6) Nikki Harris (GBR)
7) Sophie De Boer (NED)
8) Katerina Nash (CZE)
9) Jasmin Achermann (SUI)
10) Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (FRA)