Martin Bina (Czech Republic) won the final round of the World Cup in the snow of Hoogerheide, Netherlands. Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was fifth on the slippery course, enough to secure the overall victory in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.
Snow and ice were the main ingredients for the World Cup finale in Hoogerheide. The usual suspects were too uncomfortable with the snow and finished off the podium. Outsiders stepped into the spotlight and 29 year-old iceman Martin Bina proved to be the best of them, taking his first-ever World Cup victory. Home rider Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) and Simon Zahner (Switzerland) joined the junior world champion of 2001 on the podium.
“This race for me this race was very technical, very speed and that’s good for me. It’s a very important victory for me,” Bina said.
Niels Albert profited from a late chain problem for Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) to claim the overall win in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. Pauwels finishes runner-up while Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) is third overall.
The splendid win from Bina comes as a major surprise. The Czech never finished in the top 10 of a World Cup round this season but clearly the cold circumstances were in his favour. Together with Pauwels, the Czech showed off great technical skills to stay upright and ride fast on the challenging course in Hoogerheide. Halfway through the race, Bina and Lars van der Haar increased the pace in the six-man lead group which also contained Radomir Simunek (Kwadro-Stannah), Zahner, Pauwels and Albert. The two Belgians, Pauwels and Albert, were eying each other for the overall win in the World Cup and lost touch with the leaders. By the end of the sixth of nine laps, Bina managed to get a gap. Behind him the chasers hesitated.
“The initiative only came from Kevin [Pauwels] or me. When he dropped his chain it was up to me. I came back on him but then I bobbled. In the final lap I came close again but not close enough,” Van der Haar said.
Bina completed a nearly perfect ride in the snow. Only in the final lap did he slip and fall on the ground but the Czech recovered well. At the finish line, Bina had a gap of 7 seconds on Van der Haar. In the battle for third place, Sven Nys came close to the wheel of Simon Zahner but the latter stood firm and held on to take his first podium finish in a World Cup race.
Nys was riding near the front in the first laps until he crashed on his backside while running off an extremely slippery drop. From there he lost a lot of ground whereas Zahner moved up to the lead group in the second lap. Zahner left the initiative to the others and although he made some mistakes, they weren’t enough to keep him from finishing on the podium.
Nys explained he never felt comfortable on the slippery course. “I was afraid to crash and lose everything,” Nys said, referring to potential injuries which might harm his participation in the Louisville world championships. “Many times I lost several seconds because I was afraid to make a mistake. Form-wise I’m good but not super.”
Newly crowned Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) crashed hard during Saturday’s race in Zonnebeke. Due to a torn muscle in his thigh he didn’t take the start in Hoogerheide. Vantornout dropped from fourth to seventh place in the World Cup classification. Vantornout is also uncertain for the world championships which take place in two weeks’ time in Louisville.