The World Cup leader's positions remains in Zdenek's hands. Our favorite rider managed a second place finish in the Koksijde dune cross despite having bad legs. Niels Albert convincingly rode to his first victory of the season.
Zdenek was a bit tired as he made his way to the start of today's race. The obligations of the past few days had clearly taken their toll. “With the Quick Step transfer rumors it was sometimes more hectic than after the World Championships. I kept getting calls.” The memories of last year's race in Koksijde, which Zdenek won, provided the necessary motivation for the day.
Styby got off to a good start and was one of the first to dive into the modified course. The other favorites, including Niels Albert, Sven Nys and Bart Wellens, missed their starts completely and were out of the picture for a short while. Styby didn't wait, but at the same time he wasn't able to take advantage of the situation. “I didn't have any power at all.”
During the third lap there was a regrouping at the front and Nys soon went on the attack. “To thin out the group of nine,” he said. And the Belgian champion did just that and opened up a lead. However his chain dropped a little while later and he lost the lead.
Albert seized the opportunity and went in search of victory. In no time at all he built up a ten second lead. “But that quickly turned to twenty,” Zdenek said. “I just couldn't keep up with him. Niels was better, period.” While the former world champion continued to increase his lead, there was a battle behind him for second.
The first one to try a solo attack was Wellens, who faltered on the last lap. Our Czech caught up to his teammate again and brought Bart Aernouts and Nys with him. The battle for second was back on. Thanks to a mistake in the sand by Wellens, Styby was able to move up to second. By that point Albert's first victory of the season was secure.
“That was the best I could do today,” Zdenek admitted after the race. “I was a bit worried because there was a bit of running. But the knee pain was bearable. It was worse before. Now I'm looking forward to going to bed and I want to do well in Gieten tomorrow.”
Nys grabbed the final spot on the podium ahead of Aernouts and Wellens. Kevin Pauwels, second in the World Cup, finished in eighth place and lost ground in the overall standings. It looks like it'll again be a battle between Styby and Albert for this year's World Cup. “Hopefully with the same result as last year,” Styby laughed. The next World Cup race is next week in Igorre, Spain.