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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.