Posted by Editoress on 01/28/07
Cyclo-cross World Championships Hooglede-Gits, Belgium
Photos part onebr>
A near national tragedy for Belgium was narrowly averted at the Cyclo-cross World Championships when defending world champion Erwin Vervecken charged back to the front after a crash to narrowly beat American Jonathan Page, who took the silver - the first ever elite men's medal by a U.S. rider, and the third silver medal of the weekend for the U.S.
Under the same overcast and windy conditions faced by the women in the morning, the 66 men went off at 2:30 pm in front of a crowd estimated by officials at nearly 40,000.
Dutch rider Gerben De Knegt got the hole shot as the riders exited the asphalt onto the dirt track, closely followed by Erwin Vervecken and Bart Wellens (Belgium). Just behind was a group containing Richard Groenendaal (Netherlands) and Page. Favourite Sven Nys (Belgium) got off to a slightly slower start, but quickly moved up, so that by lap two the three Belgians - Vervecken, Wellens and Nys - had opened a gap on the chasers.
Local joy didn't last long, as all three Belgians crashed. Nys and Wellens went down when they hit a barricade which had been pushed out by the crowd. Wellens appeared to be favouring his right wrist afterwards, and collapsed after the finish of the race, holding his arm.
Vervecken and Nys chased back up to the group trying to reel in Groenendaal, but then promptly crashed yet again, with Vervecken taking down Nys. Both seemed to be more shaken after this further crash, and were back in 10th and 12th places when they got going. Nys didn't recover from this second spill, eventually finishing 11th.
Vervecken commented afterwards "normally the world championships is a technical race, and most of the time the top riders are at the front after three or four laps, but here it was three unexpected riders. Nys and wellens were both fast for the first two laps, but then they fell. I fell also in the fourth lap, I think, I dropped to tenth and didn't think that I could catch up. All the falls had nothing to do with equipment choice, it was just bad luck. Everyone expected two, maybe three Belgians on the podium; it was just bad luck. But this was not a tactical race; it was a very, very hard circuit, so it became a man-to-man battle."
Vervecken set off in pursuit of the leaders with a deficit of 15 seconds, while Nys was at 25 seconds. Groenendaal attacked after the Belgian crash, and opened up a 5 second gap on Page and Enrico Franzoi (Italy). The Italian and American worked steadily together, and passed Groenendaal on the fifth lap when he also crashed.
This put the race, at the halfway point, in the unusual position of having no Belgian or Dutch riders at the front, even the racer announcer seemed to be in shock, saying" "The race is being led by an American and an Italian!"
A lap later and Page dropped Franzoi, opening a gap that hovered between 7 and 10 seconds. He was riding smoothly and strongly, but Vervecken was gaining momentum, pushed along by the swelling fervor of the Belgian fans. Vervecken caught and dropped Franzoi just before the start of lap 8, and pulled up level with Page. Vervecken immediately put an effort in to drop the American, but Page managed to hold on. Page responded with his own effort on the stairs, but Vervecken quickly brought him back.
It looked like a sprint finish might be in the offing, but then Page slipped out slightly in a corner, and that was all it took for Vervecken to get away and take a victory for Belgium. Page rolled in a few seconds later, followed at 16 seconds by Franzoi, with Wellens 9 seconds out of the medals.
Page was visibly happy crossing the line, sporting a huge smile, and he danced on the podium. "I'm really happy coming back from my (shoulder) injury earlier in the season. What was left of this season was all building up to this one day, so to win this medal is a dream come true. It is great for our country (to win a three silver medals); great for cyclo-cross in America. I hope that it continues."
- Canada had two riders in the race - national champion Greg Reain and Mike Garrigan. Reain was caught on the last lap, finishing 48th, while Garrigan was caught a lap earlier and took 52nd place. "I'm really happy with my ride" commented Garrigan. "It's an awesome, fun course. I rode the race I wanted and managed to stay out for 8 laps. I rode with the leaders for quite a while after I was caught."
- Olympic mountain bike silver medalist Jose Hermida (Spain) finished 17th in his first world-level cyclo-cross race, and said that he would be doing more cyclo-cross in the future. "It was good; these guys are very fast. I have a lot to learn, but it will be good winter training and I hope to race more in the future."
- Vervecken was asked about the Belgian team riding against each other, and not in support of the other team members: "It is true that we don't ride as a group. That is because my biggest opponent is (Sven) Nys. But, I must say that we did not ride against each other, just for ourselves."
|1. Erwin Vervecken (Belgium)||1:05.35.5|
|2. Jonathan Page (United States Of America)||at 0:02.7|
|3. Enrico Franzoi (Italy)||0:16.7|
|4. Bart Wellens (Belgium)||0:25.4|
|5. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)||0:31.2|
|6. Richard Groenendaal (Netherlands)||0:34.3|
|7. Gerben De Knegt (Netherlands)||1:12.4|
|8. John Gadret (France)||1:26.2|
|9. Christian Heule (Switzerland)||1:35.4|
|10. Thijs Al (Netherlands)||1:40.7|
|11. Sven Nys (Belgium)||2:04.0|
|12. Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||2:22.5|
|13. Marco Aurel Fontana (Italy)||2:46.8|
|14. Maarten Nijland (Netherlands)||2:57.7|
|15. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium)||2:57.8|
|16. David Derepas (France)||3:02.6|
|17. Jose Antoni Hermida Ramos (Spain)||3:04.7|
|18. Lukas Fluckiger (Switzerland)||3:25.4|
|19. Arnaud Labbe (France)||3:27.0|
|20. Marek Cichosz (Poland)||3:31.9|
|21. Simon Zahner (Switzerland)||3:43.6|
|22. Maros Kovac (Slovakia)||3:54.9|
|23. Ryan Trebon (United States Of America)||3:59.2|
|24. Petr Dlask (Czech Republic)||4:05.8|
|25. Bart Aernouts (Belgium)||4:22.0|
|26. Alessandro Fontana (Italy)||4:34.7|
|27. Robert Glajza (Slovakia)||4:46.6|
|28. RenÃƒÂ© Birkenfeld (Germany)||4:56.3|
|29. Steve Chainel (France)||5:42.3|
|30. Milan Barenyi (Slovakia)||5:49.7|
|31. Davide Frattini (Italy)||6:01.9|
|32. Joachim Parbo (Denmark)||6:16.2|
|33. Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spain)||6:33.2|
|34. Phillip Dixon (Great Britan)||6:39.8|
|35. Keiichi Tsujiura (Japan)||6:47.2|
|36. Marco Bianco (Italy)||6:51.8|
|37. Robert Jebb (Great Britan)||7:17.7|
|38. Gusty Bausch (Luxembourg)||7:29.0|
|39. Kashi Leuchs (New Zeland)||7:34.0|
|40. Wilant Van Gils (Netherlands)||7:41.7|
|41. Fernande Suarez (Spain)||7:58.3|
|42. Fredrik Ericsson (Sweden)||8:16.2|
|43. Eric Tonkin (United States Of America)||8:25.0|
|44. Vaclav Metlicka (Slovakia)||8:36.9|
|45. Mariusz Gil (Poland)||9:06.7|
|46. Dariusz Gil (Poland)||at 1 lap|
|47. Andrzej Kaiser (Poland)||at 1 lap|
|48. Greg Reain (Canada)||at 1 lap|
|49. Oscar Vazquez Crespo (Spain)||at 1 lap|
|50. Peter Presslauer (Austria)||at 1 lap|
|51. Masanori Kosaka (Japan)||at 1 lap|
|52. Mike Garrigan (Canada)||at 1 lap|
|53. Atsushi Maruyama (Japan)||at 1 lap|
|54. Barry Wicks (United States Of America)||at 1 lap|
|55. Jan Chrobak (Czech Republic)||at 1 lap|
|56. Thorsten Struch (Germany)||at 1 lap|
|57. Tristan Schouten (United States Of America)||at 1 lap|
|DNF. Davy Commeyne (Belgium)|
|DNF. Kamil Ausbuher (Czech Republic)|
|DNF. Radomir Simunek (Czech Republic)|
|DNF. Camiel Van Den Bergh (Netherlands)|
|DNF. Malte Urban (Germany)|
|DNF. Masahiko Mifune (Japan)|
|DNF. Mohamed Conway (Zimbabwe)|
|DNF. Tshabalala Nqobizitha (Zimbabwe)|
|DNS. Francis Mourey (France)|
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