British cyclo-cross champion, Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea), continued her unbroken run of podium finishes in this season’s UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup by finishing third on the punishing sands of Koksijde.
The 26-year-old finished behind Katie Compton (Trek) and Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) on arguably the most demanding course of the season, whose infamous dunes sap strength and demand the highest standards of bike handling.
Harris, who was third at the opening round of the series in Valkenberg, and finished second at round two in Tabor, tweeted her satisfaction with a performance that leaves her second in the overall standings, 30 points behind Compton.
“Must like the sand. 3rd place, 3/3 on the podium in the World Cups so far this season :) happy with that!! Now to Girona for some hard work!”
Must like the sand. 3rd place, 3/3 on the podium in the World Cups so far this season :) happy with that!! Now to Girona for some hard work! – Nikki Harris
Fellow Brit, Helen Wyman, a seven-time national champion and reigning European champion, started well and broke clear of the chasing pack with Harris and Compton.
But the US champion and defending World Cup holder simply proved too strong, and rode away from both British riders. Once clear, her lead was never under threat, and by the time she crossed the finish line, she had built a comfortable 1.08 advantage over Cant.
The 23-year-old Belgian led the Dutch woman Sabrina Stultiens (Rabobank Liv-Giant) back up to Harris and Wyman, and soon after broke clear to launch a solo pursuit of Compton, maintaining a gap to Harris and finishing 14 seconds clear.
British men’s champion, Ian Field (Hargroves-Specialized) had a difficult day in the elite men’s race, finishing 28th after crashing in the treacherous sands, and finished nearly five minutes behind the winner, 2011 world champion, Niels Albert.
The two-time national champion tweeted his disappointment with the result, which came after consecutive top-20 finishes in the opening two rounds of the World Cup, but he praised the travelling fans who had made the journey from Britain in numbers to perhaps the most iconic of all ‘cross courses.
“Can’t thank the Brit support enough! That was crazy. Never heard so many shouts before. Sorry I didn’t deliver. Hope everyone had a great day,” he tweeted.
Albert registered a comfortable victory on the course on which he won the 2012 world championship, but French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ) ended his team’s hopes of a one-two finish by outsprinting Philipp Walsleben.
Can’t thank the Brit support enough! That was crazy. Never heard so many shouts before. Sorry I didn’t deliver. Hope everyone had a great day – Ian Field
Walsleben had played a tactical role, slowing the chase group to allow Albert to build a lead. Albert’s dominant display contrasted with misfortune for his rivals, including an over-the-bars moment for Belgian champion, Klaas Vanternout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), and his team-mate, the reigning world champion, Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL), who became momentarily entangled with a fence.
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) offered the most greatest threat, leading Albert in the early stages, but fading to finish sixth, some 54 seconds behind the winner. Tenth place for Lars van den Haar, winner of the opening round in Valkenburg, was enough to keep the young Dutchman in the white jersey of World Cup leader.
The World Cup returns on December 22 when round four will be held on the Belgian circuit of Namur.
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup 2013-14: round three (Koksijde) – Elite Men – result
1) Niels Albert (BEL) – BKCP-Powerplus – 1.04.49
2) Francis Mourey (FRA) – FDJ +32″
3) Philipp Walsleben (GER) – BKCP-Powerlus – ST
4) Sven Nys (BEL) – Crelan-KDL +34″
5) Kevin Pauwels (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoleon Games +37″
6) Tom Meeusen (BEL) – Telenet-Fidea +54″
7) Bart Aernouts (BEL) – AA Drink +1.05
8) Klaas Vantornout (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoloen Games +1.13
9) Corne Van Kessel (NED) – Telenet-Fidea +1.14
10) Lars van der Haar (NED) – Rabobank +1.33
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup 2013-14: round three (Koksijde) – Elite Women – result
1) Katie Compton (USA) – Trek – 43.32
2) Sanne Cant (BEL) – Enertherm-BKCP +1.08
3) Nikki Harris (GBR) – Young Telenet-Fidea +1.22
4) Sabrina Stultiens (NED) – Rabobank +1.55
5) Sophie de Boer (NED) – Young Telenet-Fidea +1.56
6) Helen Wyman (GBR) – Kona – 2.31
7) Pavla Havlikova (CZE) – Young Telenet-Fidea +2.42
8) Martina Mikulaskova (CZE) – TJ Stadion Louny +3.17
9) Loes Sels (BEL) – BNCS-Pro +3.25
10) Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (NED) – Orange Babies +3.40