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By VeloNews Interactive
Richard Groenendaal finally broke the Belgian grip on international cyclo-crossSunday as he won the second round of the UCI World Cup in Kalmthout, Belgium.
Racing in front of a crowd of 6000 spectators, the Dutch Rabobank ‘crossspecialist brought an element of suspense back into the discipline’s topseries, leaving the World Cup standings in a three-way tie between himself,Bart Wellens and world champion Mario de Clerq.
Groenendaal celebrated his 12th ever World Cup in muddy conditions that areto said to be his specialty. Bart Wellens, winner of the opening World Cupround last month in Frankfurt, tried to force a break in the first lap andbuilt up a small 10-second gap.
But Wellens, who had been complaining of illness all week, couldn’t holdthe pace and was soon caught and passed by fellow Belgian Ben Berden.
But by the second lap, Groenendaal was ready to make his move and broke awayfrom the rest of the field in lone pursuit of Berden. The Rabobank man slowlybut surely began to pull back the Belgian and he soon pulled even.
“I raced in my own rhythm,” said Groenendaal. “When you force on this courseyou pay the price later in the race. On this course you pay for each mistakeyou make. I made several mistakes, but I did not become nervous. Berden alsomade a few mistakes so I could take a little advantage.”
Groenendaal maintained his position for a lap and then launched an attackthat Berden simply could not match.
“I needed this victory after a few weeks with problems with my material andhealth,” Groenendaal said. “Last week I won in Steinmaur a cross on a courseequal to this in Kalmthout. I felt very strong and took the risk to racewith very low pressure in my tires. In the mud you can ride better with thosetires, but at the end it was also very hard for me. I heard that De Clerqwas coming and he is a strong sprinter.”
1. Richard Groenendaal (Nl), 1:05:11
2. Mario De Clercq (B), at 0:08
3. Ben Berden (B), at 0:33
4. Bart Wellens (B), at 0:48
5. Sven Nijs (B), at 1:59
6. Sven Vanthourenthout (B), at 2:34
7. Erwin Vervecken (B), at 3:32
8. Gerben de Knegt (Nl), at 3:36
9. Vaclav Jezek (Cz), at3:47
10. John Gadret (F), at4:09
11. Thomas Frischknecht (Swi), at 5:02
12. Christian Heule (Swi), at 5:14
13. Dariusz Gil (Pol), at 5:22
14. Jiri Pospisil (Cz), at 6:06
15. Matthew Ellis (GB), at 6:24
16. Enrico Franzoi (I), at 6:33
17. Wim de Vos (Nl), at 7:33
18. Michael Baumgartner (Swi), at 7:50
19. Tadeusz Korzeniewski (Pol), at 7:50
20. Dominique Arnould (F), at8:07
21. Arnaud Labbe (F), at8:37
22. Kamil Ausbuher (Cz), at8:51
23. Robert Glajza (Svk), at 8:57
24. Luca Bramati (I), at9:13
25. Maarten Nijland (Nl), at 9:30
26. Gusty Bausch (Lux), at 9:34
27. Roger Hammond (GB), at 9:52
28. David Derepas (F), at 10:01
29. Pawel Cierpikowski (Pol), at 10:10
30. Tomas Trunschka (Cz), at 10:28
31. Jean-Baptiste Beraud (F), at 10:45
32. David Rusch (Swi), at 11:00
33. Simon Zahner (Swi), at 11:32
34. Françis Mourey (F), at12:01
35. Marco Paludetti (I), at12:30
36. Thijs Verhagen (Nl), at 1 lap
37. Tommy Nielsen (Dk), at 1 lap
38. Joachim Parbo (Dk), at 1 lap
39. Christian Wasmer (G), at lap
Overall standings after two of five World Cups
1. Richard Groenendaal (Nl), 100 pts
2. Bart Wellens (B), 100
3. Mario De Clercq (B), 100
4. Sven Nijs (B), 80
5. Erwin Vervecken (B), 63
World Cup races still to come:
GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE
When: January 5, 2003
This is another course that is new to the World Cup, though it, too, hasbeen the site of major competitions in the past.
The 2.8km course is designed for speed. Even if the weather turns sour andwet, the course should remain very fast. The grassy surface is said to siton soil that drains off quickly and doesn’t turn too soft, even in heavyrains.
VeloNews pick: If this race stays together, and on this course itis likely to, our pick is Tom Vanoppen.
GRAND PRIX OF SWITZERLAND
When: January 19, 2003.
Even before Wetzikon made its World Cup debut last year, this Swiss ’crossclassic was a favorite pre-world’s stop on the European circuit. While this2.8km course is the same as last year, it’s not quite the same race it wasa few years ago.
Wetzikon is usually a tough race, and the mud and hills are especially hardto negotiate.
VeloNews pick: If it’s sloppy and muddy, we’ll pick our favorite bog-trotter,Richard Groenendaal. If it’s cold and fast, we’ll go with Mario De Clercq.
GRAND PRIX OF HOLLAND
When: February 16, 2003
This will be the first World Cup ever scheduled to follow the world’s. Thecourse was first used as the site of the Grand Prix Adri Van der Poel, arace to honor Hoogerheide’s hometown hero when he retired three years ago.
Of all the stops on the World Cup circuit, this one resembles the courseused at the world championships in Zolder. The surface is sandy and tendsto compact when rain falls, especially for the extended periods common atthat time of year. There will not be a single barrier or run-up on the 2.8kmcourse. Riders, especially those in the lead, can stay on their bikes throughoutthe race. Like Zolder, this course starts and finishes on a long stretchof pavement.
Too add to the speed and the intensity of the battle, the UCI is awardingdouble points for this Cup closer.
VeloNews pick: Because of the double points, this one is the hardestto call. Vervecken won on this course last year and if he’s in the runningfor the title, he will still be our favorite to win here.