This week’s gossip edition brings you some big news from some of the biggest stars in Europe: Sven and Thijs light up the Benelux Championships, Vos takes over World Cup and lots of fun at the Joe Martin Stage race, plus much more!
Sven Nys Wins Benelux Championships in Averbode
An all-star lineup showed up for the Belgacom Benelux Championships over the weekend in Averbode, Belgium, with a start list that included the likes of Olympic Champion Julien Absalon and fellow mountain biker Roel Paulissen, as well as our very own cyclocross stars Sven Nys, Thijs Al, and Gerben de Knegt. By the race’s halfway point, cyclocross had claimed the top spot over its mountain bike counterparts by putting Nys, Al and de Knegt in a leading group of three. De Knegt would fade away from the other two ‘crossers, but Nys and Al would charge ahead, using their mix of power and skill to hold off the rest of the field. Julien Absalon tried to cross the gap to the leading duo, but was out muscled by Al and Nys, who undoubtedly had a big power advantage over the Frenchman.
Al was still in the picture as the two hit the final meters of the race, but Nys was able to hammer home his first win of the season, easily outpacing Al to the finish line. Absalon overtook the fading de Knegt to take home third place. De Knegt faded all the way down to 6th position, but considering the roll call, that’s a fine day at the office. Other notable participants included Zdenek Stybar who put on a good show, finishing 11th. Sven Vanthourenhout was not far behind Stybar, finishing 15th. Jan Verstraeten rounded out the top 20, with young Belgian Tom Meeusen finishing 21st.
In the women’s race, cyclocross ruled the day as well, as Belgian Cyclocross Silver Medalist Sanne Cant outpaced Dutchwoman Sanne Van Paassen to take home the win. Belgian Cyclocross Champion Joyce Vanderbeken was 4th on the day, giving Cant a small taste of revenge after Vanderbeken’s controversial win in the Belgian Championships.
Marianne Vos Second at Tour de Berne, Takes Over World Cup Lead
Only two women emerged from the 2009 Tour de Berne in the leading group as the winner crossed the line. Considering her results this season, it comes as no surprise that reigning World Champion Marianne Vos was one of them. Vos and her breakaway mate Kristin Armstrong managed to put 47 seconds between them and the next closest finisher, as the duo attacked up the race’s final climb. Vos, usually one of the strongest sprinter out there, was outfoxed by the experienced American, and lost in a photo finish. World Cup leader Emma Johannson was also in the race, and held a slim 18 point lead in the overall standings, but she would ultimately end up in 5th place, allowing Vos take home the World Cup leaders jersey as a reward for her efforts.
Johnson and Powers Prove to be Exact Equals, Plus More Joe Martin Stage Race
Questions may rage over who is the biggest star on the Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com team, but the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas did little to settle that dispute. In stage one, Tim Johnson, former US National Cyclocross Champion, and Jeremy Powers squared off in the day’s 2.5 mile individual time trial. By virtue of a flip of a coin, or some other precise science, Johnson managed to slip into 18th place on the day, but Powers was not far behind, in 19th, logging the exact same tie (rounded to the second). Masters 30-34 National Champion Andy Jacques-Maynes logged a great 24th place on the day, while cyclocross regulars Davide Frattini (48th), Justin Lindine (81st), Steve Tilford (96th) and Nick Keough (111th) were also on hand.
Stage two’s best finisher was the ageless Tilford, who put in a top 20 performance, finishing 19th. Johnson’s Team OUCH also had a good day, as a second place finish by Rory Sutherland put him in the race’s overall lead. Tilford did himself one better on stage three, by finishing in 12th place on the day. With only sprint stages on the menu for days two and three, there was little changes to be made on the overall standings. Chris Jones highlighted the cyclocross week at Joe Martin by taking home the victory for Team Type 1 in the race’s final criterium, besting Luis Romero Amaran and Lucas Sebastian Haedo (both of Davide Frattini’s Colavita Sutter Home team) in the final sprint to the line.
Cyclocross Stars Open Season at Omloop der Kempen
Many of the top European cyclocross stars took the second weekend in May to start up their road seasons, at the Netherland’s Omloop der Kempen, a 200 kilometer ride through the Dutch countryside. While none were able to match the finishing speed of Theo Bos, Dieter Vanthourenhout was able to grab 7th place, while Eddy Van IJzendoorn and Lukas Kloucek were able to get into the top 20, with a 12t0h and a 20th respectively. Also in action on the day were ‘crossers Boy Van Poppel (56th), Klaas Vantornout (69th at 0:22 behind), Radomir Simunek (73rd at 1:32 behind) and reigning World Champion Niels Albert (100th at 1:50 behind). Be sure to be on the lookout as these stars bring their seasons into full swing.
Wondering what your favorite mudders have been up to? Doing your homework so you can win Cyclocross Magazine’s fantasy cyclocross league next season? We’ve got you covered with our new, weekly report on your favorite top ‘crossers. Each week Jake Sisson will bring you the latest news, gossip, and maybe even a tweet or two on the pro scene. This is installment #8. Installment #7 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know!