Stybar wins Superprestige series

World champion Zdenek Stybar wins the Superprestige series in a dramatic last-round battle with Niels Albert.

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World champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) won the 2009-10 Superprestige cyclocross series on Sunday after prevailing in a dramatic last-lap battle with Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in the final race in Vorselaar.

Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb) jumped out to a significant lead in the first lap of the rutted, icy circuit and sailed into the second go-round in front with Stybar chasing just a handful of seconds back. Christian Heule (Rendementhypo) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb) were in the hunt, too, with Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) further back in a group with Jonathan Page (Planet Bike).

But Heule and Vantornout came to grief when the Swiss rider slid out in an icy chicane leading to a short staircase, leaving Sven Vanthourenhout with a half-dozen seconds on Albert and BKCP-Powerplus teammates Radomir Simunek and Dieter Vanthourenhout.

Going into the third lap Simunek caught up to Sven Vanthourenhout and took the lead. Albert was chasing at five seconds back with Stybar. Nys was moving up, while Page was falling back.

Simunek led Sven Vanthourenhout through the start-finish and into lap four with Albert dangling some five seconds back and Nys closing in, with Stybar on his heels. Page was six seconds further back with Vantornout.

Going into lap five the hounds and hares were merging into a six-rider lead group containing Nys, Stybar, Albert, Simunek and Sven and Dieter Vanthourenhout. Page and Vantornout were chasing about 15 seconds back.

Simunek moved ahead of the bunch, taking a six-second lead into lap six, with Stybar, Albert and Dieter Vanthourenhout in pursuit and Nys bringing up the rear. But Simunek slid out on an icy stretch, which let Stybar catch on and then seize the lead, with Albert and Dieter Vanthourenhout chasing and Nys just behind.

Racing through the start-finish and into lap seven Stybar and Simunek clung to a slim lead over the chasing trio until Stybar hit the pits for a spare bike, leaving Simunek, Albert and Nys at the head of affairs.

With two laps to go the threesome was charging along through lapped riders with the world champ riding a solo pursuit a handful of seconds behind. And then Simunek slid out in the same section that took down Heule and Vantornout, clipping Nys’ wheels out from under him and leaving Albert all alone at the head of the race.

Nys and Simunek both remounted, but it was now Albert’s race to lose. He hit the bell lap with just four seconds over Stybar, and when the world champ finally caught on the two fought like dogs for the win, banging bars and squeezing each other into the barriers.

The two traded attacks and counters until Stybar took a slight lead. It would be just enough. He hit the cobbles of the start-finish stretch with three seconds over Albert, enough to take the win and the overall series title. A clearly disappointed Albert coasted across the line for second on the day and second overall, while Simunek pipped Nys at the line for third. Nys held onto third place in the series, however.

Page crossed in seventh position, behind Dieter Vanthourenhout and Vantornout.


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