Posted by Editoress on 01/30/11
Report from today's Elite races from St. Wendel, Germany
Our coverage made possible with the support of Shimano
Women's photos (part one)
Women's photos (part two)
Men's photos (part one)
Men's photos (part two)
The elite races of the 2011 Cyclo-cross World Championships might have seemed strangely familiar, as both Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) and Marianne Vos (Netherlands) successfully defended their titles in front of 30,000 cheering spectators in sunny and cold conditions. Canadian riders did not fare well on the day, with Canada's sole woman entrant, Natasha Elliott finishing 31st after suffering multiple flats, while both Craig Richey (46th) and Derrick St John (51st) were lapped after being caught in a crash on the opening lap of the men's race.
This race quickly came down to four riders: Vos, pre-race favourite Katie Compton (USA), Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) and the local favourite, Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany).
With the conditions colder than yesterday, the ground remained significantly more frozen, and the lead riders were not having as much trouble with the off-camber section after the barriers that caused so much grief the day before. Compton surged on that section on lap two, with Vos and Nash able to respond, but Kupfernagel was popped - she would chase on her own for fourth.
The three remaining riders rode together until the final lap, when Vos did what she has done so many times before: launch a devastating attack that other riders cannot respond to. The Dutch rider soloed in for her third consecutive cyclo-cross title, and the fourth of her career, equally the record of Kupfernagel. Compton took silver, a few second ahead of Nash.
Natasha Elliott had a somewhat frustrating day, "I had a flat before the start, and then another one early in the race. After a bike change I was slowly moving up, and was into the top-20 on the final lap, when I flatted again, losing a bunch of spots. It was definitely a disappointing day."
Stybar came into this race a question mark, after knee problems derailed a major portion of his season. By the end of the first lap there was a group of approximately ten at the front, with Stybar setting the pace and followed by five Belgians - Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantornout and Gerben de Knegt. Also at the front were American Jonathan Page, Frenchman Francis Mourey, German hope Philipp Walsleben and Italian mountain biker Marco Fontana.
However, the number of Belgians was definitely not to Stybar's liking and, when he upped the pace, all except Nys were eventually dropped by the fifth lap. The two leaders steadily pulled away from the chasers, which were in turn whittled down through attrition and technical problems.
Page flatted, falling back, although he eventually recovered to finish a respectable 12th. Team mate Tim Johnson moved up in his place, but was then taken out of the race when another rider managed to put his pedal into Johnson's bike wheel, sending the American flying. After a trip to the hospital he was pronounced to be bruised and battered, by okay.
The chase eventually boiled down to Walsleben, Pauwels and Vantornout, with Mourey moving up to join them in the final lap. Pauwels attacked in the last half lap to take the third podium spot.
Up front, Stybar decided on lap seven that it was time to see what Nys had in him ... which turned out to be not enough. Slowly at first, and then faster as Nys faded, the Czech rider pulled away, to roll into the athletic stadium where the finish took place so far ahead of his rival that he was crossing the line before Nys even entered the track. The Belgian, winner here at the Worlds in 2005, rolled across the line with his head down, the picture of disappointment.
For the Canadian men, the race was almost over before it started. A crash less than a kilometre into the race took down or held up approximately 15 riders at the back of the field, including both St John and Richey. St John suffered the further indignity of a flat, necessitating a trip into the pits.
Craig Richey: "The start was chaos, with crashes all over the place. I went down, but my bike was okay, so I didn't have to go into the pit for a bike change. I was feeling good out there and moving up until the officials pulled me for the leaders."
Derrick St John: "There was that trouble at the start, with the crash, and then the flat. I'm disappointed, because I came prepared. All I can do is come back next time [better] prepared and start faster."
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