On the legendary velodrome in Roubaix the cyclo-cross peloton competed in the fourth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. The wins on the fast and technical course were for experienced riders Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) from Belgium and Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) from the USA. Compton strengthens her lead in the World Cup standings for Women while Nys is now on the heels of World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in the Elite Men category.
The win from Compton in the first race of the day in Roubaix wasn't an easy one. Just like many other riders the American champion often bobbled on the course up and around the velodrome. But she overcame her mistake, and showed that she is currently the strongest rider in the peloton.
Compton tweeted after the race, "I took clumsy up to a whole new level today."
Ranked second in the UCI standings, European champion Helen Wyman (Kona) went down in a fast sand passage during the first lap. Hindering many others, her crash a first selection. Still in the first lap a steep descent took out Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Veldritacademie Enertherm-BKCP). Cant had to be carried away on a stretcher.
Compton was also involved in this crash but was able to continue her race. In front, Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women Cycling Team) didn't wait. The Dutch rider led the race with a small gap over Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus) and Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team). Van Paassen managed to extend her lead over the first chasers but Compton was riding around quicker than everybody else in fifth place. The American rider quickly moved into second place but as time ran out to catch Van Paassen she started making mistakes. Despite several crashes, Compton caught up with a tired Van Paassen in the bell lap and distanced her in the final technical section. It's the third World Cup win of the season for Compton. Achermann clinched third place and her career first World Cup podium.
Cant provided an update to her injuries via twitter, "I'm still alive.. BIG headache and heavily bruised wrist. #pain bedankt allemaal voor de steun!!!"
American Amy Dombroski (Young Telenet Fidea) finished 11th, just three seconds off 10th and an automatic selection to Team USA for the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville.
During the first half of the race in the Elite Men category, it didn't seem like Nys would leave his mark in Roubaix. In front, World champion Albert was setting the pace with only Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) able to follow. Nys didn't seem to find his rhythm in Roubaix and for several laps he rode outside the top nine. Halfway the race things turned when Nys rode two fast laps and joined the leaders. The pace dropped in front and several other riders bridged up as well. After a relatively slow lap Nys moved forward in the eighth of twelve laps and only three riders were able to keep up: Albert, Pauwels and Taramarcaz. The four riders kept the pace high and it became clear they would battle for the win in Roubaix. Nys often set the pace and Albert struggled most to keep up. That changed in the final lap when Albert moved into the lead, defending his World Cup leader jersey. Still, in the last technical passage Nys manage to overtake the world champion and power to his second World Cup win of the season. Pauwels finished as runner-up and Albert was third, making it an all Belgian podium.
"It was not possible to have a big gap (on the final lap) but you need to be in second place on the last half lap and then do the right move on the 200, 300 meters before the finish line. I did what I needed to do, the last downhill was a little bit tricky and I felt the whole race that I was not my best place on the track but I did one acceleration two, three corners before the finish and it was enough to win the race." Nys told sporza after the race.
It was the first time in his illustrious career that Nys was able to raise his arms in victory in the Roubaix velodrome. "It's fantastic because there is a lot of history in this place and for me to win here, it's my first time, and I'm very happy."
American champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) finished 23rd and Jonathan Page was 30th. A disappointed Powers who is on the hunt for World Cup points, tweeted after the race, "A day in France w/ ups & downs, I rode a decent race, had some issues, ill look to the lap times to tell the true story. I wanted better, I like to look at both positive & negative, fix what was bad & focus on what was positive and focus on the next races."
Looking at the very fast lap times below six minutes, Powers clocked five laps in the top 20, with three in the top 10 but he was already back in the field at that point.
The next UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round is held in Namur, Belgium at the famous citadel on December 23.
Three other races, for elite men only, were also held this Sunday, the Bryksy Cross- Gosciecin in Poland, the National Trophy Series Round 4 in Great Britain and the Tage des Querfeldeinsports in Austria.
Marek Konwa, of Poland, soloed to the win at Bryksy Cross- Gosciecin ahead of Czech duo of Jan Nesvadba and Matej Lasak. Belgian Floris de Tier won the National Trophy Series Round 4 in South Shields, crossing the line three seconds ahead of Belgian Bart Hofman and Brit Olivier Beckingsale. Italian Elia Silvestri soloed to victory at Tage des Querfeldeinsports in Ternitz, Michael Boros was second and David Kasek was third, both are from the Czech Republic.