By VeloNews Interactive
Belgian Sven Nijs won the opening round of the 2001-02 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Italy Saturday with a win over fellow Belgian Bart Wellens. Italian Daniele Pontoni finished third after Erwen Vervecken and Richard Groenendaal – the 2001 and 2000 world champions – both suffered mechanical difficulties.
Groenendaal led early but was slowed on the second lap when he punctured both tires. The 2000 world champion would recover to finish fourth, just over a minute off Nijs’s winning pace.
Nijs took the lead just before the halfway point of the race, which took him 58 minutes and 18 seconds to complete. He maintained his lead over Pontoni, Wellens and Groenendaal and finished with a 20-second advantage over Wellens, who passed Pontoni late in the race.
American Jonathan Page earned 8 points in the World Cup standings with a 23rd-place finish. Page was 3:01 off Nijs’s winning time.
The next round of the World Cup will be in Spain on December 2.
2001-02 UCI CYCLO-CROSS WORLD CUP NO. 1, Monopolie, Italy. November 17.;
1. Sven Nijs (B), 58.18; 2 Bart Wellens (B), at 0:20; 3 Daniele Pontoni (I), at 0:22; 4 Richard Groenendaal (Nl), at 1:01; 5 Wim De Vos (Nl), at 1:20: 6 Jiri Pospisil (Cz), at 1:26; 7. Arnaud Labbe (F), at 1:27; 8. Vaclav Jezek (Cz), at 1:29; 9 Maarten Nijland (Nl), at 1:30; 10 Enrico Franzoi (I), at 1:32.