Riders from host nation Belgium as well as those from the Netherlands have dominated this weekend’s UCI World Cyclo-Cross championships at Koksijde. In the men’s elite race, Niels Albert led a Belgian clean sweep of the medals. Meanwhile, in the women’s event, Dutch rider Marianne Vos retained the title she has now won for four years in a row, and five in total.
The home country’s dominance of the men’s elite race in front of a capacity 40,000 spectators thronging the 2.94 kilometre circuit extended well beyond its riders winning all three medals on offer – the first seven men home were all Belgian, with the rest of the field more than a minute behind.
Albert, who had lost his national title to Sven Nys earlier this month, came home in a time of 1:06:07 to win by 24 seconds from Rob Peeters, with Kevin Pauwels third. Nys himself came home in seventh position at the end of the ten-lap race.
The highest-placed non-Belgian was the Czech Republic’s Radomir Simunek, who crossed the line 2 minutes 15 seconds down on the winner, in eighth place. Fellow Czech Zdenek Stybar, the defending champion, finished 13th.
The only Great Britain rider to complete the race was Ian Field, who ended up 36th, while Paul Oldham did not finish. Both riders had escaped the bout of food poisoning that swept through the British squad earlier in the weekend, although clearly with so many team mates and backroom staff succumb it would have disrupted their preparation.
Albert led the men’s race virtually from start to finish, as Vos had done earlier in the day in the women’s event, with fellow Dutchwoman, Daphny van den Brand, second, some 37 seconds behind, and Belgium’s Sanne Cant third.
Great Britain’s Nikki Haris finished sixth, 1 minute 3 seconds behind Vos, with team mate Helen Wyman, who had briefly led the race early in the first lap, finishing in 13th position.
Vos’s win, achieved in a time of 41 minutes 4 seconds, was the third and final gold medal of the weekend for the Netherlands, with Lars van der Haar and Mathieu van der Poel respectively winning the men’s under-23 and junior men’s titles on Saturday.
Across all four events at the circuit in West Flanders, close to both the North Sea and the French border, the Netherlands won five medals and Belgium six, the other going to France.
Full results can be found on the event website.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.