2012-2013 Cross World Cup Wrap-Up

With a fifth place at the final World Cup round on Sunday, Niels Albert wrapped up his second overall World Cup title. It also marks the eighth title for a Belgian in the past ten editions of the World Cup. Albert narrowly edged out fellow Belgians Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys. Lars van der Haar breaks up the Belgian domination with a fourth place overall, nearly 100 points back. Bart Aernouts (Bel) rounds out the top-five. The top American was Jonathan Page, who finished a distant 29th, about 400 points behind Albert. It should be noted that World Cup points are very top heavy, meaning that outside the top-ten the points drop off drastically. With that said, here’s a look at how Albert took this year’s title.

Lars van der Haar out sprints Albert for second. Photo: Balint.

Lars van der Haar out sprints Albert for second. Photo: Balint.

Round #1 – Tabor

Last year’s overall champion, Kevin Pauwels, looked like he was on track for another title with a solo victory in Tabor. He escaped from a strong lead group that included Lars van der Haar (2nd), Niels Albert (3rd) and Klaas Vantornout (4th). The real action was a little further back, where Sven Nys overcame a broken chain to finish fifth and American Jeremy Powers had the best ever placing for an American when he crossed the line in seventh place.

Overall Standings after Round 1

  1. Kevin Pauwels – 80
  2. Lars van der Haar – 70
  3. Niels Albert – 65
  4. Klaas Vantornout – 60
  5. Sven Nys – 55
Rob Peeters rode well but during one his visits to the pits, he failed to stop. Photo: Balint.

Rob Peeters rode well but during one his visits to the pits, he failed to stop. Photo: Balint.

Round #2 – Plzen

One week after finishing third in Tabor, Albert took a commanding victory on a muddy course in Plzen. Albert simply rode away from Klaas Vantornout (2nd) and Kevin Pauwels (3rd) enroute to his first win of the season. The real story was Rob Peeters, who crossed the line in third, but was disqualified for an “irregular pit stop.” American Jeremy Powers crashed in the first corner and eventually left the race after suffering a mechanical.

Overall Standings after Round 2

  1. Niels Albert – 145
  2. Kevin Pauwels – 145
  3. Klaas Vantornout – 130
  4. Tom Meeusen – 106
  5. Sven Nys – 105
Francis Mourey. Photo: Balint.

Francis Mourey. Photo: Balint.

Round #3 – Koksijde

The last time the cross world was in Koksijde, Albert picked up a World title and the Belgians took the top-seven spots. Francis Mourey (3rd) attempted to spoil the party, but was quickly overtaken by Albert, who looked poised for another victory on a course that literally bears his name. However, the ride of the day came from eventual winner Sven Nys. Nys slowly rode his way towards the front, catching and passing a dejected Albert during the final lap. More importantly, the World Cup saw three different winners in the first three rounds, leaving things wide open.

Overall Standings after Round 3

  1. Niels Albert – 215
  2. Sven Nys – 185
  3. Klaas Vantornout – 185
  4. Kevin Pauwels – 184
  5. Bart Aernouts – 158
Julien Taramarcaz had a solid ride in Roubaix. Photo: Balint.

Julien Taramarcaz had a solid ride in Roubaix. Photo: Balint.

Round #4 – Roubaix

Sven Nys would pick up his second straight World Cup win on a very fast course in France. After Pauwels (2nd), Albert (3rd) and Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz formed and early lead group, Nys bridged the gap as the lead group swelled to nine riders. Taramarcaz became a household name as he held the lead until the final few laps. In the end, no one could match the strength of Nys as he escaped from the leading foursome in the final few corners, looking like the Nys of old.

Overall Standings after Round 4

  1. Niels Albert – 280
  2. Sven Nys – 265
  3. Kevin Pauwels – 254
  4. Klaas Vantornout – 209
  5. Lars van der Haar – 197
Sven Nys on one of the many muddy runups in Namur. Photo: Balint.

Sven Nys on one of the many muddy runups in Namur. Photo: Balint.

Round #5 – Namur

On one of the wildest and toughest courses on the circuit, Pauwels picked up his second World Cup victory on a muddy course around the Citadel in Namur (Namen for our Flemish friends). The real action was the battle for second and third. Albert suffered a flat tire during the final lap and almost helplessly watched Nys close a 30 plus second gap and take control of second in the final few hundred meters. A bit further back, Jonathan Page secured his spot for Worlds with a 15th place finish. Page’s final lap times were on par with those of Nys and Albert.

Overall Standings after Round 5

  1. Niels Albert – 345
  2. Sven Nys – 335
  3. Kevin Pauwels – 334
  4. Klaas Vantornout – 264
  5. Bart Aernouts – 246
Zdenek Stybar leads the chase. Photo: Balint.

Zdenek Stybar leads the chase. Photo: Balint.

Round #6 – Heusden-Zolder

Three days removed from his second place in Namur, Nys put in a solid last lap effort to rid himself of Albert and pick up his third World Cup victory of the season. Zdenek Stybar, who now races cross only during “Holy Week,” edged out a strong chase group for third. Nys’ victory was enough to put him on equal terms with Albert, as the World Cup becomes a two man race.

Overall Standings after Round 6

  1. Sven Nys – 415
  2. Niels Albert – 415
  3. Kevin Pauwels – 389
  4. Klaas Vantornout – 301
  5. Lars van der Haar – 291

Round #7 – Rome

After a tough few weeks in Belgium, the cross collective escaped to a warmer, dry and faster course in Rome. Pauwels and Vantornout were able to get away from a strong chase group, leaving the likes of Albert and van der Haar behind. Nys, recovering from an illness, was never a factor, finishing 20th. A last lap mechanical for Vantornout left Pauwels all alone while Albert was able to use the opportunity to finish second. Italian Marco Fontana put in a superb ride and finished third. More importantly, Pauwels was able to close the gap to Albert, giving him a chance to capture his second consecutive overall title.

Overall Standings after Round 7

  1. Niels Albert – 485
  2. Kevin Pauwels – 469
  3. Sven Nys – 446
  4. Klaas Vantornout – 356
  5. Lars van der Haar – 341
Martin Bina leads a snowy, icy race in Hoogerheide. Photo: Balint.

Martin Bina leads a snowy, icy race in Hoogerheide. Photo: Balint.

Round #8 – Hoogerheide

Icy, snowy conditions met the riders in Hoogerheide for the final round of the World Cup. As a result of the dangerous conditions, the usual suspects played it safe and really never contended for victory. Martin Bina took the victory ahead of van der Haar and Simon Zahner, marking the first time since 2007 that a Belgian didn’t finish on a World Cup podium. Nys was the best of the rest finishing fourth ahead of Albert. Pauwels finished a distant eighth, locking up the overall for Albert.

Final Overall Standings

  1. Niels Albert – 540
  2. Kevin Pauwels – 515
  3. Sven Nys – 506
  4. Lars van der Haar – 411
  5. Bart Aernouts – 372
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