World cyclo-cross champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) ended his season on a high with victory in the Cyclocross Masters indoor race in Hasselt.
Riders faced sections of sand, jumps, steps and logs as thousands of cross fans watched the riders for the last time this winter. There was a party atmosphere at the event as the riders enjoyed their last race before taking a break.
Albert came back from a poor start to join Sven Nys, Zdenek Stybar and Kevin Pauwels at the head of the race. Nys looked set to win after a powerful surge but he made a mistake on the final corner and Albert quickly took advantage and sprinted to victory. Stybar finished second, with Nys just a little further behind. Pauwels finished fourth.
Albert had a difficult first part of the season and was affected by a wrist injury. However after switching to Colnago bikes in January, he peaked perfectly for the world championships and rode away from his rivals to take the rainbow jersey in Koksijde, in front of thousands of Belgian cyclo-cross fans.
“I’ve won nine races and became the world champion. I can lived with that,” Albert joked after his amazing season.
Albert, Nys and all the other cyclo-cross riders will now take a well-earned break from racing before switching to the road in the summer to lay down the foundations for next winter’s cyclo-cross season.
A few hours after the Hasselt race, Nys tweeted: “Away from the world, no tweets, sms or phone. Next week I’ll be back.”
Ernesto Colnago is 80 today and has celebrated his birthday with a special limited edition bike that is set to become a collectors’ item.
The special bike is called the C59 Ottanta – which means eighty in Italian and has a gold finish. It was inspired by the iconic Colnago bikes of the past that were used so successfully by so many legendary professional riders and loved by thousands of cyclists around the world.
The C59 Ottanta has Master-like arabesque lug decorations and Ernesto Colnago’s signature, yet is made from the best possible carbon fibre and fitted with Campagnolo Super Record EPS 11s electronic components.
Colnago is known for its iconic ace of clubs logo but the C59 Ottanta has a special head badge: the original ‘Eagle and Arrow’ logo that was created in 1954 inspired by a headline in the local newspaper that described Colnago as fast as an arrow when he won a race.
Just 80 examples of this very special limited edition bike will be made and 20 have already been snapped up by collectors around the world.
Despite turning 80, Colnago was busy in his office in Cambiago, preferring to work than celebrate his birthday. He is still the first to arrive at the Colnago offices, just across the street from his home and is always the last to leave. Most people are happily retired at 80 but Colnago does not intend to retire just yet.
“My 80th birthday is an intermediate sprint, it’s the not the finish of my race. I still love to work and create new bikes. I don’t want a cake or a big party, the special bike is my way of sharing my birthday,” he said.
Pierre Rolland defied the cold and the chasing peloton at the Etoile de Bessèges to give Team Europcar its first win of the 2012 season.
Rolland was the revelation of the 2011 Tour de France, winning the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez and the best young rider’s white jersey. He used his class and excellent early season form to ensure his Colnago C59 was first over the line.
Rolland raced with confidence. He secured a place in the eight-rider breakaway that shaped the stage; then while other riders struggled and were left behind, he and Franck Vermeulen managed to hold off the chasing peloton on the finishing circuits and then Rolland won the two-rider sprint.
“All the guys rode really well,” Team Europcar directeur sportif Ishmael Mottier explained. “We placed two riders in the first break of 13 riders and then when they came back, Pierre made the race hard and forced the break. He’s had a good winter, he’s confident of his form and you can see it in the way he’s racing. He wanted to pay back the other guys in the team for their work.”
Thanks to his stage victory, Rolland now has an excellent chance of overall victory in the early season stage race.