LILLE, BELGIUM – A week after a disappointing ride at the World Championships in Louisville, Niels Albert stormed the shores of Lille today with a commanding solo escape. Looking slightly strange without his World Champions jersey, the BCKP-Powerplus rider used the fast, sandy lakeside course to pull away on the second lap and time trial to an emotional victory.

Niels Albert had the legs today to win in strong solo fashion  © Bart Hazen

Niels Albert had the legs today to win in strong solo fashion © Bart Hazen

Behind him, a large group containing newly-crowned World Champion Sven Nys, mid-week Augustijn Parkcross Maldegem winner Bart Wellens (Telenet Fidea), Belgian Champion Klaas Vantornout and teammate Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napolean Games), and Rob Peeters (Telenet Fidea) all contested for the final two podium spots.  Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) had been in contention before a spectacular crash while trying to bunnyhop the barriers took both him and Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) out of the lead group. Van der Haar pulled out of the race soon after. American Champion Jonathan Page took 28th.

The chase group traded leaders throughout the race, with Nys and Pauwels at one point looking to escape, only to have the group pull back together. On the final lap, as Nys struggled off the back of the lead pace, Vantornout took to the lead and strung the riders out. Nys, however, was simply playing tactics and it was Wellens who eventually faded. Vantornout, showing similar tactics to what won him his Belgian National jersey, never lost his advantage, pulling away just enough of a gap to stay out of the sprint and take second, while behind him Nys kicked around Peeters and Pauwels to take third. Tom Meeusen, who won at Lille in 2012, continues to have a rough season, and crashed in the opening corner of the race.

“Once the gap was made, I could pull further ahead lap by lap,” Albert said, via Sporza. “I’m very pleased. I had a great day, but a week late. At the World Championship, I might have needed that extra day to recover. Anyway, it is what it is. Maybe I had some problems of stress in the US. It is more difficult to defend the jersey than to conquer it. ”

“I want to close the season beautifully,” he continued. “I keep the best of myself in the beautiful crosses to come. I have no World Champion jersey, but will have hauled in two.”

Albert, who already won the overall World Cup series, has now all but sealed the Bpost Bank Trohpy, as well. He now sits 3’53” over second place Pauwels, and over six minutes ahead of third place Vantornout.

“I was tactically not alert enough when Niels came on and his teammates blocked,” said Nys. “This gap, I can never close. The second place was still there, but I was at the wheel of Peeters when he could not follow Vantornout. He took five meters and I could pull it back. I was not bad, but had no super legs. Everyone misses some freshness.”

Tomorrow, Nys will enter the penultimate Superprestige, in Hoogstraten, where he is defending his overall lead. “I hope Sunday to do well in the Superprestige.”

Bart Hazen Photo Gallery:

2013 Bpost Trofee Lille - Elite Men Results

1Niels ALBERTBEL58:45:00
2Klaas VANTORNOUTBEL59:34:00
3Sven NYSBEL59:34:00
4Kevin PAUWELSBEL59:34:00
5Rob PEETERSBEL59:38:00
6Bart WELLENSBEL59:50:00
7Philipp WALSLEBENGER1:00:09
9Bart AERNOUTSBEL1:00:27
10Marcel MEISENGER1:00:55
11Jim AERNOUTSBEL1:00:55
14Thijs ALNED1:01:12
16Tom MEEUSENBEL1:01:21
18Gerben DE KNEGTNED1:01:41
19Joeri ADAMSBEL1:02:07
20Patrick VAN LEEUWENNED1:02:11
21Mariusz GILPOL1:02:16
22Simon ZAHNERSUI1:02:22
23Martin BINACZE1:02:24
24Martin ZLAMALIKCZE1:02:49
25Micki VAN EMPELNED1:03:01
26Twan VAN DEN BRANDNED1:03:03
27Patrick GAUDYBEL1:03:03
28Jonathan PAGEUSA1:03:04
29Dave DE CLEYNBEL1:03:47
30Bart HOFMANBEL1:04:06
31Arnaud JOUFFROYFRA1:04:13
32Niels WUBBENNED1:04:18
33Mathieu WILLEMYNSBEL1:04:24
38Kristof COPBEL