ROUBAIX, FRANCE: Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) continues his domination of the 2012/13 season after besting Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) to take the win today at World Cup Roubaix.
In a blistering fast race that saw large groups and late selections, Nys timed his attack perfectly, taking the lead on the final run up the stairs to push the pace on the climbs on the back side of the course. Though he failed to separate himself from Albert and Pauwels, the move put his rivals on the defensive as they neared the final stretch. Nys sprinted out of the penultimate corner, and the attack was enough to give the Kannibaal van Baal enough of a gap to finish the job on the famed velodrome. Pauwels, with what might be his cleanest race of the season, came in for second, followed by Niels Albert. Just a few seconds off the lead pace came Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC), who lead the early race and stayed with the leaders until Nys’ final push. Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) won the sprint containing a large group of chasers. American Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) came in at 23rd, and Jonathan Page at 30th. Albert still leads the World Cup standings, with 280 points over Nys’ 265.
“I don’t think it was possible to have a big gap,” said Nys after the race. “I’ve done what I needed to do. I did one acceleration just two corners before the finish, and it was enough to win the race.”
Fast From The Gun
The day was cold and clear as the men lined up following Katie Compton’s earlier win. The course, though slick in parts, was a far drier affair than the mud-ridden circuit the last time the World Cup came to Roubaix. Then, it was Zdenek Stybar who proved the strongest, powering away to win ahead of Klaas Vantornout and Sven Nys.
Lars van der Haar, as is his habit, sprinted off the start line to grab the hole shot ahead of Simon Zahner (EKZ Racing). Zahner then took the lead heading into the barriers, which some riders chose to avoid completely by taken an open gap between the barriers and the fencing—a convenient hole that was re-closed by the next lap. Tom Meeusen then took over briefly, before Julien Taramarcaz exploded off the front and quickly gained a handful of seconds. Neils Albert was sitting around tenth, with Nys another few riders back.
Taramarcaz continued his solo lead for the remainder of that lap and the entirety of the third. By then, Niels Albert had made his way to the front and caused a small separation as he went off in pursuit of the Swiss national champion. He and Kevin Pauwels made contact as Taramarcaz entered lap four. Behind them, Lars van der Haar led a large chase containing Tom Meeusen and Dieter Vanthourenhout, while Nys followed in the second chase, Rob Peeters and Klaas Vantornout on his wheel.
The Selection Is Made
This was the status quo for the next few laps, with Meeusen briefly among the leaders but then falling off the pace, and Nys patiently reeling riders in as he pursued Albert. Albert and Taramarcaz traded leads, with Albert pushing the pace in the technical sections and Taramarcaz taking over on the straights while Pauwels hung comfortably behind. By lap six, Nys was only a few seconds behind, pulling BKCP-Powerplus duo Radomir Simunek and Dieter Vanthourenhuot with him. Klaas Vantornout, who had the best finish of the competitors last time the race came to the velodrome, unfortunately broke his chain and spent much of the lap running to the pits.
It was at the barriers of lap seven that Nys, having dropped Simunek and Vanthourenhout, made contact with the lead of Albert, Taramarcaz, and Pauwels. Though at times the chasers, led by van der Haar and Peeters, seemed close to making contact, this would be the selection that remained until the final moves of the race. At times Nys led, at others Albert or Taramarcaz. Pauwels put in a single effort that briefly looked to stretch out the group, but failed to snap any off the lead train, and he then returned to his watchful position. At a few points, Albert looked to be in difficulty, nearly losing the group with four to go but managing to claw back on by the start/finish. The World Champion did not look comfortable throughout the race, and was often making up small gaps after the tricky descents.
On the final lap, however, it was Albert who put in the first real effort to dislodge the rest, taking over the lead and pushing hard through the barriers. Nys and Pauwels quickly responded, but the first cracks began to show in Taramarcaz’ efforts. The BMC rider had been animating much of the race, having one of his best World Cup performances to date, but the effort was now costing him as he clung two bike lengths back.
Albert, too, did not have enough to seal a win today. As his effort began to wane, Pauwels looked to make an attack, but his foot slipped out of his pedal as he jumped—his one mistake of an otherwise clean day. The falter neutralized his effort, and instead it was Nys who accelerated on the stairs to take over the lead heading into the hilly back half. The lead was all the Belgian Champion needed, as he put his compatriots on the ropes, powering up the climbs and shedding Taramarcaz for good. Nys had a length and a half coming into the sharp penultimate corner, but it was enough room to sprint hard heading into the velodrome and open up an insurmountable lead. Arms raised, the Kannibaal of Baal added another win to his already impressive 2012/13 campaign. Albert had nothing left to give after his effort, and Pauwels easily took second. Taramarcaz, who surely won the ride of the day, crossed the line proudly in fourth.
Bart Hazen Gallery
2012 World Cup Roubaix Elite Men
|5||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||1:04:07|
|8||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||1:04:08|
|12||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:05:08|
|28||Gerben DE KNEGT||NED||1:06:43|
|29||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:06:45|
|40||Micki VAN EMPEL||NED|
Check back soon for full report and photos!