By VeloNews Interactive
World cyclo-cross champion Bart Wellens won the fifth round of the six-raceWorld Cup series in Nommay, France, on Sunday, easily beating Holland’sRichard Groenendaal and fellow Belgian Erwin Vervecken.Belgian Sven Nijs, who finished seventh on the day, holds on to theoverall lead in the series, which closes out in Pijnacker in the Netherlandson February 15. Wellens win leaves the overall World Cup race up in theair with four riders – Wellens, Nijs, Groenendaal and Belgian Ben Berdenall capable of winning the title in the final round when double pointsare awarded.Wellens has set his sites high, aiming to win the “grand slam” of cyclo-cross:The Belgian national championship, the world championship and the overallWorld Cup title in a single year.Sunday’s race began with an early and furious attack from France’s FrancisMourey, a move that thrilled the home crowd in Nommay. Unfortunately forlocal fans, Mourey was caught by the end of the first lap, but did manageto join an elite group of eight that formed at the front. He joined forceswith Wellens, Groenendaal, Vervecken, Nijs, Berden ,Sven Vanthourenhoutand Tom Vannoppen. The gap grew to the point that no one in the chase groupcould connect and it was soon clear that the day’s winner would emergefrom the lead group.After two laps, Wellens launched a blistering attack that could onlybe matched by Groenendaal was able to make the junction. Within half alap, the two leaders had left the rest of the group behind and began tobattle between them for the win.Wellens, who said he’d suffered through “a bad week,” said he was happyto have Groenendaal’s company because the powerful Dutchman added a lotof horsepower to the break. “He was very strong and he made the differencewith the others,” he noted.Nijs, meanwhile, had more than his share of problems and was unableto follow Vervecken and a surprisingly strong Jiri Pospisil. Tom Vannoppen,disappointed by being skipped over for the world’s team, also launcheda strong attack, shedding a fading Nijs in the process.Nearing the finish, Wellens attacked Groenendaal, who did not manageto respond to the move. The Dutch rider finished 20 seconds behind Wellensand said he is now focusing his energies on making the podium at the worldchampionships in two weeks.“Fifteen years after my junior world championship title, winning theelites would be my ultimate dream,” Groenendaal said. “It may happen. Rightnow, I am getting stronger and it looks like some of the Belgians are justbeginning to wear out.”Results
1. Bart Wellens (B), in 1:02:19
2. Richard Groenendaal (Nl), 20.
3. Erwin Vervecken (B), 1:21.
4. Jiri Pospisil (Cz), 1:29.
5. Tom Vannoppen (B), 1:51.
6. Sven Vanthourenhout (B), 2:21.
7. Sven Nys (B), 2:36.
8. Francis Mourey (F), 2:50.
9. Ben Berden (B), 2:59.
10. Arnaud Labbe (F), 3:08.
Overall standings after five of six rounds
1. Sven Nys (B), 243 pts
2. Ben Berden (B), 204
3. Bart Wellens (B), 200
4. Richard Groenendaal (Nl), 190
5. Francis Mourey (F), 150