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.
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.
|10||5||VAN GILS Wilant||NED||+00:39||42|
|15||34||FONTANA Marco Aurelio||ITA||+00:51||36|
|21||3||DE KNEGT Gerben||NED||+01:28||30|
|28||6||VAN IJZENDOORN Eddy||NED||+02:49||23|
|30||7||VAN AMERONGEN Thijs||NED||+02:50||21|
|45||8||VAN LEEUWEN Patrick||NED||+04:32||6|
|51||57||ST JOHN Derrick||CAN||-1LAP|