The 2013 Cyclocross World Championships were the stunning success that the US needed to put on.
It was an amazing weekend, and the races lived up to the hype. The best in the world descended on Louisville, Kentucky for the biggest day in ‘cross. The course, knocked by Niels Albert last week as too fast and not selective, became the muddy quagmire Albert swore it couldn’t be.
From the gun, Francis Mourey took off, with the very, very Czech mud specialist Martin Bina leading a spirited chase in front of a train of Belgians. Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantournout, Sven Nys, Niels Albert and essentially the entire Belgian team was in the top ten after two laps, with the flock of Americans slowly falling off the pace. Jonathan Page rode as high as 11th place, but the experienced Tim Johnson ended up as top American in 19th. Yours Truly predicted that, by the way.
The chasers slowly broke up as they neared Mourey. It was a Nys attack that first popped Albert off the back, as Sven tried to bridge to Mourey alone. The tactic was simple. Whoever got to Mourey first would hope that the Belgians behind would stop chasing. Unfortunately for Nys, Mourey exploded, as did Mina, who plummeted out of the top ten in less than a lap.
The Belgians arrived on the front in force, and with Mourey gone, it was Nys and Vantornout that rode away, leaving behind Albert and then Pauwels with a mechanical. Late, it was the young Dutch phenom Lars Van Der Haar that gave the most threat, but the two leaders were on their own to duel for the title. Nys rode smart, putting pressure on Vantornout on the slick corners and the steep climb that had decided the U-23 race as well. Nys’ experience in bad weather and against Vantornout were vital in the final circuits, and fans could see him steadily increasing pressure until finally Vantornout cracked. It was a small mistake, catching a pedal while running his bike over the top of a hill, but it was the result of a race-long mental duel with the very calm and collect Nys.
With a small gap and with just the barriers to tackle, Nys rode away and had time in the final corner to celebrate. Van Der Haar finished third, giving the Dutch three wins and a third place at the World Championships. Nys was humble in victory and takes home another World Championship, no small accomplishment for the legendary 36 year old.
|3||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||1:06:00|
|9||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:07:06|
|23||Aitor HERNANDEZ GUTIERREZ||ESP||1:09:33|
|26||Marco Aurelio FONTANA||ITA||1:10:02|
|28||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||1:10:50|
|DNF||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED|
Vos the Boss Confirms
Marianne Vos came in as a massive favorite and only confirmed her place as cycling’s best rider. She had the race wrapped up in just a few laps, while behind, American champion Katie Compton recovered from a dreadful start to surge back through the top ten. Lucie Chanel-LeFevre rallied to pass Dutchwoman Sanne van Passen, ripping up the Dutch 1-2 before a flying Katie Compton rode into second place.
Compton and Vos were truly in a class of their own, and once Compton rode into second place, she rode her own time trial to get as close to Vos as possible. Only a mechanical disaster or bubonic plague could have stopped Vos, who rode a smart and measured race to stay upright and soak in her triumph. The Italian mountain biker Eva Lechner was in prime position, and her eventual sixth place finish was a great result.
Czech Queen Katerina Nash rode herself into third position, but disaster struck on the small climb just meters before the finish. Her chain was stuck, and with 50 meters to go was reduced to trying to kick her bike to the line. Lucie Chainel-LeFevre’s persistence paid off, and she nipped the flailing Nash on the line to give France a third place on the day.
|5||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||45:15:00|
|9||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||46:18:00|
|14||Alice Maria ARZUFFI||ITA||47:09:00|