2012: World Cyclo-Cross Championships

Belgium whitewash in Men’s title race as Albert wins while a great sixth place for Nikki Harris in the Women’s race and a crash for Helen Wyman saw her drop to 13th after being with the leaders early on.

Paul Burgoine writes ... Nothing could be bleaker than coming off a ferry at Calais and driving through the fields of Flanders in freezing fog, and then to arrive at the Koksijde airbase that is greyer than London on one of its bad days.  It’s hard, if not impossible to imagine that this setting could be transformed into one of the biggest cycling circuses in Europe. All you need to do is build a virtual town on the sand dunes and airfield to accommodate what the U.C.I, said was 40,000 people but an unofficial estimate put the figure at 62,000.

Photo: Thomas van Bracht.  See all the galleries here from Thomas

No quarter was given to make everyone feel at home and there were frites and burger vans a plenty and enough beer tents to supply half of Belgium.

Spectators begin to arrive on site from the early hours and a constant flow of coaches shipped people into the circus arena. It didn’t take long before every vantage point was taken around the course, groups of supporters clubs gather in their designated areas and before you knew it, the whole site was aglow with colour, various flags and decorated umbrellas bring some cheer to the grey skies overhead. This has to be the equivalent of cycling’s Glastonbury and the party atmosphere was second to none.

All popular songs are subject to the Euro-Disco treatment, and the special few get Oompha sound tracks, one that stood out was Bob Dylan’s  ‘ knocking on heaven’s door’ , Brilliant…  What I would imagine are Patriotic Belgium/Flandrian songs are sung loud and proud by the swelling crowds. Obviously there are quite a few people staggering around ,or propping themselves up with their flag poles- worse for wear due to the demon drink, I doubt they will even know where they had been when they awake in the morning never mind who won the races. Its fortunate for these poor souls that on the Monday there is to be a national strike (just as well).

Photos of the British riders at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships
Photos by Cheryl King © ckingimages (http://www.ckingimages.co.uk/)

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It’s an advantage if you are good at climbing sand dunes and clambering through the undergrowth to get around the site that soon becomes huge after you have wandered around it a few times – so every short cut is explored and the elderly and young are helped up and down the steep sand dunes. A bit of tree climbing will give you a unrivalled view, but that is usually reserved for the young and sober.

Anyway, to the racing! The women were up first and the outstanding favourite for this was Marianne Vos. She has dominated the world of Cyclo-Cross since her return here at Koksijde in Novembers World Cup event where she was beaten into second place by fellow Dutch woman, Daphny Van Den Brand. On this occasion the tables were turned and Vos run out an easy winner in the end.

Van Den Brand was in a battle for the second spot with the crowd favourite Belgian Sanna Cant, and she couldn’t!  The Belgian led into the final corner with Van Den Brand ready to pounce from behind in the sprint for the line, despite Cant being willed on by the thousands of fans now lining the route, Van Den Brand won the sprint with ease.

The girls are primed for the start and ready to leap away … Photo: Thomas van Bracht. See all the galleries here from Thomas

Out of the GB riders Nikki Harris had a fantastic race finishing in a very respectable 6th place. On the other hand, there was disappointment for National Champion Helen Wyman who started very fast and got to the first bend in the lead, only to suffer some bad luck and a crash. Helen finished in 13th place and another favourite that lost out early was American Katy Compton who crashed into the barriers.

The post race press conference was conducted in Flemish/Dutch and lost a lot in translation but, Vos who made the win look easy, was very modest when speaking of her victory, assuring everyone that she had to work hard in the race, and it was every bit as important to her  as her first World title.

As the main event approached it was becoming almost impossible to move around the course as the crowd was now at least five deep, if not more. As the riders warmed up, the noise levels rose and the tension began to build. The front of the grid was awash with Belgians with a lone Czech, Zdenek Stybar, in amongst them .You almost feared for his safety and got the feeling that there had to be a home win for the Belgians.

From the moment the starting lights went out, Neils Albert hit the front and promptly put in a opening lap of 27kmph average speed with Stybar trying desperately to hold his wheel and the rest of the Belgium contingent looking confused about what they should do. In the mean time, Albert pulled out a big lead and although he was looking fatigued, the gap was not coming down, and his lead was hanging around 25seconds.

It was a Belgian whitewash as they dominated the top placings in the event. … Photo: Thomas van Bracht. See all the galleries here from Thomas

Stybar had made a challenge to bridge the gap but was marked by the entire Belgium squad; Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys then took their turn to chase Albert, and all but exhausted themselves doing it.

It did not help when Albert put in the fastest lap of the weekend, 6.29 and increased his lead. There were now seven Belgians ironically in the top seven; Albert was now clear and seemingly unstoppable and it was just a matter of who would join him on the podium. Sven Nys’s challenge had now come to an end and it would be Rob Peeters who would take the silver medal from Kevin Pauwels in third. In fact the first seven finishes were from the home country.

On Neils Albert’s ‘last ronde’, you could hear the cheers follow him around the course and he had plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere and receive the applause.

British riders Ian Field and Paul Oldham never looked happy in the race. Ian Field finished in 36th place while Paul Oldham retired with illness. To be fair to the Brits, no one but the Belgian squad looked happy in this race. They totally blew it apart.

As the racing finished and the exits filled, I dread to think how long it took everyone to get home and in what state. All I can say is they couldn’t have picked a better day for a general strike. To sum it up I said to a spectator “this is crazy” and he replied “yes this is Belgium”.

More Photos: 2012 World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Belgium by Thomas van Bracht.


Elite Men’s World Title
1.  Niels Albert  BKCP-Powerplus
2.  Rob Peeters  Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
3.  Kevin Pauwels  Sunweb – Revor
4.  Tom Meeusen  Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
5.  Bart Aernouts  Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
6.  Klaas Vantornout  Sunweb – Revor
7.  Sven Nys  Landbouwkrediet – Euphony
8.  Radomir Simunek  BKCP-Powerplus
9. Philipp Walsleben (Germany)
10.  Simon Zahner  Suisse EKZ
11.  Steve Chainel  Equipe Cycliste FDJ – BigMat
12.  Francis Mourey  Equipe Cycliste FDJ – BigMat
13.  Zdenek Stybar  Omega Pharma – Quickstep
14.  Aurelien Duval

Ian Field (Great Britain)

1.   Marianne Vos  Rabobank Ladies Team  41:04
2.   Daphny Van Den Brand  WV Schijndel  0:37
3.   Sanne Cannot  Boxx cyclocross academy  0:38
4.   Sanne Van Paassen  Brainwash  0:49
5.   Katherine Compton  Rabobank Giant Offroad Team  0:53
6.   Nikki Harris   1:03
7.   Sophie De Boer  WV Schijndel  1:05
8.   Katerina Nash   1:11
9.   Jasmin Achermann   1:12
10.   Lucie Chainel-Lefevre   1:54
11.   Pavla Havlikova   2:43
12.   Sabrina Stultiens  Brainwash  @ st
13.   Helen Wyman   2:45
14.   Christine Majerus  GSD Gestion team  2:46
15.   Linda Rows  Skil – 1t4i  2:52
16.   Arenda Grimberg   3:01
17.   Gesa Bruchmann   3:30
18.   Caroline Mani   3:36
19.   Nicole Duke   3:40
20.   Meredith Miller   3:54
21.   Olga Wasiuk   4:52
22.   Martina Mikulaskova   5:04
23.   Amy Dombroski  Cranckbrothers  5:21
24.   Joyce Vanderbeken   5:34
25.   Kajsa Snihs   5:39
26.   Kaitlin Antonneau  Exergy Twenty12  5:41
27.   Rocio Gamonal   5:43
28.   Sabrina Maurer   5:56
29.   Niko Line Hansen   6:19
30.   Asa Maria Erlandsson   6:34
31.   Mary Alice Arzuffi   6:55
32.   Ayako Toyooka
33.   Sakiko Miyauchi
34.   Lise-Marie Henzelin
35.   Genevieve Whitson  Asptt Dijon – Bourgogne
36.   Madara Furman


Under 23 Men’s Championship
1. Lars Van Der Haar Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 00:49:20
2. Wietse Bosmans BKCP-Powerplus 00:01
3. Michiel Van Der Heijden Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 00:04
4. Arnaud Jouffroy Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 00:05
5. Laurens Sweeck 00:50
6. Marek Konwa 00:56
7. Mike Teunissen Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 01:03
8. Arnaud Grand Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 01:13
9. David Menut Cr4c Roanne @ st
10. Gianni Vermeersch BKCP-Powerplus 01:28
11. Vinnie Braet Sunweb – Revor @ st
12. Zach Mcdonald 01:48
13. David Van Der Poel BKCP-Powerplus 01:55
14. Julian Alaphilippe Armée De Terre 02:04
15. Stan Godrie Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team 02:07
16. Tomas Paprstka 02:08
17. Nipl Vojtech 02:17
18. Clément Venturini 02:30
19. Elia Silvestri 02:49
20. Jan Nesvadba 02:50
21. Bryan Falaschi 03:18
22. Karel Hnik Sunweb – Revor 03:21
23. Michael Schweizer 03:22
24. Lars Forster 03:39
25. Kenneth Hansen 03:42
26. Michael Vanthourenhout BKCP-Powerplus 04:04
27. Igor Smarzaro 04:07
28. Micki Van Empel Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 04:13
29. Yannick Eckmann 04:14
30. Kenta Gallagher 04:20
31. Max Walsleben 04:22
32. Fabian Lienhard 04:41
33. Michael Wildhaber @ st
34. Daniele Braidot 05:44
35. Emil Arvid Olsen 05:50
36. Luca Braidot
37. Jonathan Lastra Grupo Hirumet Taldea @ st
38. Cody Kaiser @ st
39. Yannick Mayer Team NSP – Ghost @ st
40. Jack Clarkson @ st
41. Pablo Rodriguez Guede Grupo Hirumet Taldea @ st
42. Wojciech Malec
43. Jon Gomez @ st
44. Patryk Kostecki @ st
45. Iñigo Gómez
46. Félix Côte-bouvette @ st
47. Lex Reichling @ st
48. Ludwig Söderqvist @ st
49. Bartosz Pilis @ st
50. Jaroslav Chalas Dukla Trencin – Merida @ st
51. Alexander Gehbauer @ st
52. Luke Gray @ st
53. Domas Manikas

Junior Men Championship
1. Mathieu Van Der Poel Boxx cyclocross academy 0:42:36
2. Wout Standaert Young Telenet fidea 0:08
3. Quentin Jauregui Boxx cyclocross academy 0:21
4. Quentin Hermans Young Telenet fidea @ st
5. Daan Soete Young Telenet fidea @ st17
6. From Yorbin Tichelt  0:48 15
7. Silvio Herk Lotz  1:00 14
8. Daan Hoeyberghs Boxx cyclocross academy 1:25 13
9. Romain Seigle  1:32 12
10. Victor Koretzky  2:11 11
11. Anthony Turgis  2:23 10
12. Dominic Zumstein  2:24 9
13. Gioele Bertolini  2:40 8
14. Andrew Dillman  3:08 7
15. Felix Drumm  3:11 6
16. Tim Aries  3:12 5
17. Logan Owen  3:15 4
18. Martin Budding Boxx cyclocross academy 3:16 3
19. Toki Sawada @ st2
20. Mark Koenig  3:30 A
21. Andri Frischknecht  4:05
22. Stan Wijkel Young Telenet fidea 4:07
23. Dylan Kowalski @ st
24. January Brezna @ st
25. Peter Van Beek  4:31
26. Michal Paluta  4:43
27. January documentation thereof  4:44
28. Karel Pokorny  4:45
29. Emil Linde  4:57
30. Grab dominic  5:06
31. Koen Weijers  5:34
32. José Manuel Ribera  5:37
33. Kevin Suarez Fernandez  5:43
34. Curtis White  5:45
35. Piotr Konwa  5:59
36. Dani Nadir Colle @ st
37. Mark Wahlqvist @ st
38. Steffen Müller  6:28
39. Joseph Moses  6:35
40. Yohan Patry  6:50
41. Kota Yokoyama  6:52
42. Michimasa Nakai  7:08
43. Luca De Nicola  7:10
44. John Siemer Mann  7:15
45. Stosz Patryk
46. Simon Vozar @ st
47. Riccardo Redaelli @ st
48. Tobin Ortenblad @ st
49. Jaime Campo
50. Samuel Beaudoin @ st
51. Ondrej Glazja @ st
52. Sven Fritsch @ st
53. Mateusz Grabis @ st
54. Francesco Pedantic @ st
55. Richard Gorry
56. Tobiasz Lis @ st
57. Zigymantas Baikstys

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