zolder-menimg_0116.jpg Dutch rider Thijs Al lives in the shadow of Lars Boom, but after winning his first World Cup and taking two of his last three starts, the muscular rider has shown he can’t be forgotten going into the world championship in his home country.

by Bart Hazen of The Daily Peloton

After the victory of Marianne Vos in the women’s category, the Dutch continued the streak with Thijs Al in the Elite-men’s category. Al won the seventh World Cup race of the season in Zolder with a surprise victory over Kevin Pauwels and Sven Vanthourenhout. World Champion Lars Boom, finishing fourth, was best of the rest. For Al it was his first ever World Cup victory.

The race was the comeback of the prince of Belgian cyclocross Niels Albert. Albert was out for several weeks due to a split in his milt after a crash previous to the race in Gavere. But the young Belgian recovered fast and could return into racing faster than expected.

zolder-menimg_0003.jpg From the start Thijs Al, who won the cross in Antwerpen last week, took the initiative, followed by Lars Boom and Sven Vanthourenhout. World Cup leader Sven Nys did not have the best start but was able to bridge up to the front after two laps.

Three laps into the race it looked like the race would end in a bunch sprint as more than twenty riders were still riding together along the race circuit in Zolder. Due to a crash of Radomir Simunek and Simon Zahner, Thijs Al, Marco Aurelio Fontana and Sven Vanthourenhout were able to get away. Only Overijse winner Kevin Pauwels was able to bridge across to the front making a break of four riders.

The four worked well together and the gap went quickly up to thirty seconds. Over halfway the race Italian Champion Fontana crashed in a steep descent and dropped back to the chasing group led by World Champion Lars Boom.

In the final two laps Boom and Nys increased the pace in the chasing group but it was too late to close the gap on Al, Pauwels and Vanthourenhout. In the final lap Thijs Al attacked on the hilly final part of the course which was enough to win the race.

World Cup leader Sven Nys, who finished as sixth, remains in the lead of the World Cup with a total of 475 points. Kevin Pauwels moved up to second with 393 points while Bart Wellens is down to third with 392 points. Zdenek Stybar is fourth while Thijs Al climbed up to fifth.

The Northern Americans James Driscoll and American champion Ryan Trebon finished in the middle of the field at respectively the 26th and 27th position. The other Americans Troy Wells (35th), Jeremy Powers (36th), Matt Shriver (41st) and Brian Matter (46th) finished within the same lap as winner Thijs Al. Molly Cameron was lapped and Jonathan Baker didn’t finish the race. Among the Canadians, Aaron Schooler was the best at rank 49. Derrick St. John was lapped and André Sutton didn’t finish.

The World Cup will continue on January 18 in Roubaix and will end in Milan a week later. Photos and Full results below.

Photo Gallery:

Full Results:

12AL ThijsNED1:02:1080
215PAUWELS KevinBEL+00:0270
41BOOM LarsNED+00:2260
523STYBAR ZdenekCZE+00:2455
612NYS SvenBEL+00:2450
713WELLENS BartBEL+00:2948
824SIMUNEK RadomirCZE+00:3246
917AERNOUTS BartBEL+00:3844
105VAN GILS WilantNED+00:3942
1121ALBERT NielsBEL+00:4140
1239CHAINEL SteveFRA+00:4839
1335HEULE ChristianSUI+00:4838
1436ZAHNER SimonSUI+00:4837
1534FONTANA Marco AurelioITA+00:5136
1631BIANCO MarcoITA+00:5335
1728AUSBUHER KamilCZE+00:5834
184GROENENDAAL RichardNED+01:0733
1940LOPEZ JonathanFRA+01:2232
2027ZLAMALIK MartinCZE+01:2731
213DE KNEGT GerbenNED+01:2830
2220VANTHOURENHOUT DieterBEL+01:3229
2325BINA MartinCZE+01:4128
2438BAZIN NicolasFRA+02:1127
2516VERVECKEN ErwinBEL+02:1526
2646DRISCOLL JamesUSA+02:1625
2744TREBON RyanUSA+02:4124
2930KASEK DavidCZE+02:5022
307VAN AMERONGEN ThijsNED+02:5021
3142DEREPAS DavidFRA+02:5120
3268SCHMITZ BramNED+02:5119
3351BARENYI MilanSVK+03:0018
3426DLASK PetrCZE+03:0117
3547WELLS TroyUSA+03:2016
3643POWERS JeremyUSA+03:2615
3733URSI FabioITA+03:2914
3862DRUCKER JempyLUX+03:5113
3963PARBO JoachimDEN+03:5212
4041BELGY JulienFRA+03:5311
4148SHRIVER MattUSA+03:5610
4260GIL MariuszPOL+04:069
4365PRESSLAUER PeterAUT+04:218
4452GLAJZA RobertSVK+04:257
458VAN LEEUWEN PatrickNED+04:326
4650MATTER BrianUSA+04:465
4753HARING MartinSVK+04:484
4866TSUJIURA KeiichiJPN+04:563
4959SCHOOLER AaronCAN+06:532
5064NIELSEN TommyDEN+07:131
5157ST JOHN DerrickCAN-1LAP