The final race of the day was set to go off, pitting the top men of cyclocross against a well worn course of muddy off-camber sections, rolling hills, and fast flat sectors. By now, the snow was worn away, leaving a wet, muddy line. The snow that had fallen over night tried to make a come back, but the flurries ended quickly. Temps were still hovering around freezing, but that did not keep the international crowd from showing all the riders support around the course.
Image © 2013 Scott Kingsley
As the race began, fans might have been hoping to see Mr. Wholeshot himself, Lars Van der Haar (Netherlands) take the lead, but it was a group of 6 Belgians that kept the young Dutchman at bay. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) set the early pase, but Martin Bina (Czech Republic) moved up at the limestone staircase. Bina decided to take a bike early on, but continued to lead the way through the first lap. Francis Mourey (France) and Ryan Trebon (USA) were also fighting to work their way up to make a run at the lead group. Mourey, along with Marco Fontana (Italy), and Kevin Pauwels and Vantornout (Belgium) began the chase for Bina. Not to go unnoticed, Jonathan Page (USA) was riding strong in 9th place.
Mourey was able to catch Bina, and able to move to the front. Gaining a small lead, the chasers began to take notice, with Pauwels just slightly ahead of Vantornout and Sven Nys (Belgium). With seven to go, the Belgian trio had grouped together, and worked to chase the Frenchman. 2012 World Champion, Neils Albert (Belgium), was not even in the picture at almost 30 seconds down, but had not given up yet. As the lap continued, Mourey crashed, but remounted quickly, and pushed on. The chase group had grown to include the light blue jerseys of Pauwels, Nys, Vantornout, Bina, and Albert. Even with the bobble, Mourey was able to continue to hold the lead of around 12 seconds.
On the lap that saw six to go, Pauwels jumped to chase down Mourey, leaving his teammates behind. By time he came to the line showing five to go, Pauwels had caught Mourey, with Nys and Vantornout seconds back, and Albert over ten seconds back. Vantornout was the first to join the leaders, then Nys, who seemed to be struggling to stay attached. Van der Haar had been moving up the ranks, and was soon becoming a player for the top positions.
Vantornout moved to the front of the lead group. Nys was able to finally latch on and stay with the leaders. As Vantornout pitted for a new bike, Mourey moved again to the front, and Albert had moved to within striking distance of the lead group. Van der Haar continued to push to also join the group, and was making up ground. Nys decided it was time for a new bike, and pitted at the next pass, but was able to rejoin the group by hopping the barriers as the others had ran them. Pauwels then came up lame with a jammed chain, and had to dismount to correct the problem. He lost considerable time as he stood on the straight away trying to free the chain. His chance at a podium finish was over.
Pauwels was not the only victim of a mechanical, as Mourey shortly after faced a puncture. Vantornout and Nys pushed on, as Albert chased in fifth, and Van der Haar moved up to fourth. Nys was able to put a few lengths between him and Vantornout on the limestone stairs with two and a half laps to go, but the Belgian champion was able to stay with the leader. With two to go, Nys and Vantornout were still together, and Van der Haar and Albert had joined up over twenty seconds back. As the leading Belgians pitted, and continued to jockey for position, Van der Haar was able to drop Albert, who was beginning to fade.
As the snow had begun to fall again, Nys and Vantornout came to the line for the last lap. Nys let his teammate lead the way, waiting for Vantornout to open the door. That happened when the Belgian champion fumbled the dismount at the limestone stairs, giving Nys the opportunity to pounce. Nys powered off, slowly building his advantage throughout the course. As they came to the finishing stretch, Nys briefly sat up to enjoy the victory, until he looked over his shoulder and saw Vantornout charging behind. Nys grabbed the bars, gave it another quick dig, and then again, sat up as he crossed the line for his second men’s elite cyclocross world championship. Vantornout, visibly frustrated with the outcome, banged his bars as he rolled across behind Nys. At 25 seconds behind, Van der Haar came across the line on his own, to claim third.
“It’s amazing,” said the 36-year-old Nys, who won his first elite world title in 2005. “Last year I said I don’t do it any more, and now I win the world championship in the States. I would say thanks to all the U.S. fans. They create something special here in the States. I’m really happy with my second world title. Now my career is complete.”
“I was very close today, it’s a double feeling,” said Vantornout. “I’m lucky that I have my Belgian champion’s jersey and the season was already very, very good from the beginning to the end. But today it was also a good race. I felt strong, even as strong as Sven Nys, but just on the moment he was riding on the front and I made two little mistakes and my race was over.”
- Sven NYS (BEL), in 1:05:35
- Klaas VANTORNOUT (BEL), in 1:05:37
- Lars VAN DER HAAR (NED), in 1:06:00
- Bart WELLENS (BEL), in 1:06:16
- Philipp WALSLEBEN (GER), in 1:06:19
- Julien TARAMARCAZ (SUI), in 1:06:19
- Radomir SIMUNEK (CZE), in 1:06:50
- Niels ALBERT (BEL), in 1:06:54
- Thijs VAN AMERONGEN (NED), in 1:07:06
- Martin BINA (CZE), in 1:07:16
- Francis MOUREY (FRA), in 1:07:29
- Kevin PAUWELS (BEL), in 1:07:39
- Simon ZAHNER (SUI), in 1:08:11
- Enrico FRANZOI (ITA), in 1:08:13
- Bart AERNOUTS (BEL), in 1:08:23
- Marcel MEISEN (GER), in 1:08:29
- Lukas FLÜCKIGER (SUI), in 1:08:39
- Rob PEETERS (BEL), in 1:08:51
- Timothy JOHNSON (USA), in 1:08:55
- Arnaud GRAND (SUI), in 1:09:07
- Marcel WILDHABER (SUI), in 1:09:13
- Jonathan PAGE (USA), in 1:09:17
- Aitor HERNANDEZ GUTIERREZ (ESP), in 1:09:33
- Geoff KABUSH (CAN), in 1:09:41
- Jeremy POWERS (USA), in 1:09:51
- Marco Aurelio FONTANA (ITA), in 1:10:02
- James DRISCOLL (USA), in 1:10:12
- Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ (ESP), in 1:10:50
- Ian FIELD (GBR), in 1:11:13
- Guillaume PERROT (FRA), in 1:11:19
- Yu TAKENOUCHI (JPN), in 1:11:22
- Romain LEJEUNE (FRA), in 1:11:35
- Christian HELMIG (LUX): DNF
- Craig RICHEY (CAN): DNF
- Daniel SUMMERHILL (USA): DNF
- Vaclav METLICKA (SVK): DNF
- Mike GARRIGAN (CAN): DNF
- Alexander REVELL (NZL): DNF
- Hikaru KOSAKA (JPN): DNF
- Lewis RATTRAY (AUS): DNF
- Zoltan TISZA (HUN): DNF
- Maksym SHEPITKO (UKR): DNF
- David QUIST (NOR): DNF
- Ryan TREBON (USA): DNF
- Twan VAN DEN BRAND (NED): DNF