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Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) both soloed to victory on Saturday at the World Cup round in Koksijde.
World Cup leader Compton took the women’s race by more than a minute ahead of runner-up Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) third at 1:22.
“I had a pretty decent race today,” said Compton. “I didn’t make any major mistakes. I was able to ride most of the stuff — technically I could ride it, I just didn’t have the power today — so I was running a lot. I got a gap at the beginning and just thought I would maintain. But I was putting on time every lap, so I just tried to not mess up.
“I don’t know where I got (the gap). I just decided to commit to running things instead of trying to ride them, and maybe that was where I saved a little bit of energy, because you had to really muscle it today, and I didn’t have the horsepower. I think running was a little more efficient, so I could actually pedal hard on the non-sand sections.”
Albert won by just over a half-minute ahead of Francis Mourey (FDJ), who edged Philipp Walsleben (BKCP) at the line. World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) failed to make the podium, finishing fourth on the day.
“Koksijde is a little bit special. I was the world champion here in 2012 and it always feels like coming home. I have also after a sand dune named after me here, so it’s a little bit special,” said Albert.
“I don’t make plans before the race. The first four laps I went a little bit easy and rode third and fourth position, and then I thought by myself, ‘Now I’ll go to the front and do my thing,’ and I quickly got a gap of 10 seconds on Tom (Meeusen) and 25 seconds on the rest of the field. And that’s why I kept pushing, pushing, pushing.
“Then, two laps from the end, someone at the finish line yelled to me that I had one minute, so then I went easier for tomorrow. Tomorrow is also a heavy race and we have a long trip now to Gieten — it’s 500 Ks — so it will be a long night.”
Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), who finished 10th, more than 90 seconds off the pace, leads the World Cup with 202 points. Walsleben sits second with 200 and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) third with 190.
Compton continues to lead the World Cup series with 170 points. Harris sits second with 140 while Cant is third with 111.
Round four of the World Cup will be December 22 in Namur.
• Wietse Bosmans (BKCP) crashed heavily during the race and was carried off on a stretcher to hospital. The early word was that he had sustained a concussion.
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report.