TERVUREN, BELGIUM – Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) distanced his rivals and showed that he’s on great form coming into next weekend’s Belgian National Championships. Albert’s win wraps up the Christmas week of racing in Belgium, which featured big races and stacked fields almost every day between Christmas and January 2nd, and also marks the end of the four-race Fidea Cyclocross Classics. Albert adds this win to his recent victories in Diegem and Loenhout.

Sven Nys kept Albert close, but was unable to close the gap. A late crash by Nys was the final factor that would keep the win out of reach. Tom Meeusen, who’s in his first year as an Elite, rounded out the podium, and those three are the favorites to make a run at the Belgian championship jersey.

Hanka Kupfernagel (Stevens), a fixture on the podiums, managed to pull out the win today in the women’s race, and a crash by her rival Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) helped her cause as well.

Kupfernagel’s Still Got It; Two Americans in Top 10

In the women’s race, German champ Hanka Kupfernagel led the race from wire to wire, winning in impressive fashion. A dangerous Marianne Vos  crashed at the start and was in pursuit mode for the rest of the way. Kupfernagel maintained over a minute gap over Cant to take the win, with Vos having to settle for third place. Despite the miscue, the Dutchwoman looks to be one of Katie Compton’s primary challengers for the World Championship stripes at the end of the month.

Vos’ countrywoman Daphny van den Brand also came to grief on the course – she was dueling with Cant for second place when she crashed outside of the tape. She would not continue the race.

Both Amy Dombroski (Crank Brothers) and Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill) were able to crack the top 10, taking seventh and ninth places, respectively. Dombroski matched her result at the Swiss GP 5 Sterne Region (read her report of that experience here.)

“My race was good – better than yesterday in Luxembourg. Today you could use your power and push out of the corners,” said Bruno Roy. “But the first two laps today my legs were still tired from yesterday, so I have been trying to warm up longer and keep loose.”  Bruno’s plan of attack clearly worked as she crossed the line in ninth against a stellar field.  If chosen for the National Team to represent USA at World Championships, Bruno says she’s certain that she’s on target to be in top form.

“I got over here a few days ago. The first race was really ugly – I felt discombobulated and slow,” said Dombroski. “So far of these three days of racing, today I was feeling much better and more on top of things. The legs are finally coming around. After Nationals, I took some time to do some base miles, so I think the snappiness is still to come, and I still have a lot of fitness to gain.”  As for her designs on racing in World Championships, Dombroski adds, “I feel like the season really hasn’t started yet. I have a lot to gain still. I’d be bummed if I didn’t make the team.”

Albert Wraps Up a Busy Race Week

Early on it was Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) and Eddy van IJzendoorn (AA Drink)) who led the peloton into the first corner. But they’d quickly succumb to the chasers’ quick pace and fall back. Page would go on to finish with a solid 12th place, but van IJzendoorn claimed that he was not dressed well enough for the cold conditions, and he’d eventually pull out of the race.

“I struggled today, but I stayed in one piece,” explained Jonathan Page. Considering most of the riders were on the ground at some point during the race, this in itself was a feat. “I didn’t feel super, so I think it’s time for a little break from racing. Since next week is the Belgian Nationals, I will have time to train. Now I can train myself into super form…maybe,” said Page.

Rob Peeters was the next to test his legs,and the Telenet-Fidea rider quickly built up a gap that would last for the first half of the event. Behind, his teammates took different approaches. While Tom Meeusen spent some time blocking on his teammate’s behalf, Zdenek Stybar, who won this race last year, joined Albert in setting the pace to reel in Peeters.

Stybar, however, started going backwards in the second half of the race, and said that he felt yesterday’s efforts in Baal, where Sven Nys narrowly edged him out for an exciting win. Stybar would eventually finish in seventh. Meanwhile Albert was rapidly closing on the lone leader – he made the junction halfway through the race and would quickly drop him and set off on his own.

Nys made things exciting as he relentlessly chased after his rival, but a miscue and crash meant that second place was as far as he’d get. Peeters, the early leader, would hang on for fifth, with Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) just two seconds behind in fifth. Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was also in the mix for much of the race, but a hard crash in the pits would result in a DNF for the former world champ.

After the race, Albert said that his priority was to prepare for next week’s National Championship. “But at some point I decided to go for it anyway.”

“It will not be easy to beat Nys [in the National Championships]. Sven has 10 years of experience,” Albert told

Reigning world champ Stybar has a National Championships of his own to defend, in the Czech Republic. ““I can actually be pretty pleased with my Christmas,” Zdenek said on his website. “I was on the podium four times and even won in Bredene. Now I hope to recover well for a few days and be ready for the Czech championship. I hope to show my rainbow jersey there and win again.”

Full Results:

Elite Men

1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:59:10
2 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:21
3 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:55
4 Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:01:24
5 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 0:01:26
6 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:01:31
7 Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:01:43
8 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team
9 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:01:46
10 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:02:28
11 Kenneth van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:02:29
12 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 0:03:14
13 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 0:04:19
14 Tom van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team 0:04:25
15 Ben Berden (Bel) Qin Cycling Team 0:04:41
16 Marek Cichosz (Pol) 0:04:46
17 Matthias Bossuyt (Bel) 0:04:50
18 Patrick Gaudy (Bel) 0:05:19
19 Marek Konwa (Pol) 0:05:22
20 Mike Thielemans (Bel) 0:05:42
21 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) 0:05:53
22 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) 0:06:06
23 Bram Schmitz (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof 0:06:12
24 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Van Goethem – Prorace 0:06:16
25 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:06:28
26 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL-Trans 0:06:44
27 (-1 lap) Kevin Cant (Bel)
28 (-2 laps) Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team
29 Rikke Dijkxhoorn (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof
30 Tom De Kort (Bel)
31 Matteo Trentin (Ita)
32 Kevin Eeckhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
33 Gianni Denolf (Bel) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team
34 Daniel Ruiz (Spa)
35 Geert Wellens (Bel) Champion System LBS Team
36 (-3 laps) Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder
37 Xabier Garcia (Spa)
38 Ryan Iddings (USA) Redline
39 Mark Lalonde (USA) Specialized
40 Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)
41 Dries Pauwels (Bel)
42 Sean Babcock (USA) Kona
43 (-4 laps) Sven Van Eyndt (Bel)
44 Ritchie Denolf (Bel)
45 (-5 laps) Shaun Adamson (Can) Cycle-Smart
46 Hikura Kosaka (Jpn)

Elite Women:

1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) 0:35:38
2 Sanne Cant (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:01:06
3 Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit 0:01:26
4 Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) 0:01:37
5 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) 0:01:39
6 Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) 0:02:12
7 Amy Dombroski (USA) Luna Pro Team 0:02:15
8 Gabriella Day (GBr) The ChainStay-RENNER 0:02:28
9 Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles 0:02:51
10 Linda Van Rijen (Ned) 0:03:14
11 Elisabeth Brandau (Ger) 0:03:46
12 Ellen Van Loy (Bel) 0:04:22
13 Nancy Bober (Bel) 0:04:54
14 Gertie Willems (Bel) 0:05:01
15 Anja Geldhof (Bel) 0:05:16
16 Anne Arnouts (Bel) 0:05:40
17 Nicole De Bie – Leyten (Bel) 0:05:57
18 Tessa Van Nieuwpoort (Ned) 0:06:08
19 Hilde Quintens (Bel) 0:06:14
20 Iris Ockeloen (Ned) 0:06:40
21 Katrien Vermeiren (Bel) 0:06:46
22 Nathalie Nijns (Bel) 0:06:48
23 Katrien Thijs (Bel) 0:06:50
24 Kristien Nelen (Bel)
25 Katrien Aerts (Bel)
26 Suzie Godart (Lux) 0:08:02
27 Ayako Toyooka (Jpn) 0:08:34
28 Lana Verberne (Ned)
29 (-1 lap) Ilse Vandekinderen (Bel)
30 Monique van de Ree (Ned)
31 Lisa Bogaert (Bel)
32 Laure Werner (Bel)