Overall winning ladies Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williams celebrate an emotional finish at the finish line of the final stage (stage 7) of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Stellenbosch to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, South Africa on the 24 March 2013Photo by Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICSThanks to her fifth World Cup win of the season Compton has also claimed overall World Cup victory. After a long solo ride to win in Rome, Albert moves up from fifth to second overall. He is at a respectable distance from World Cup leader Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team), who finished as runner-up on the Roman hippodrome. Albert attacked a small lead group at the beginning of the third lap and the Belgian was never caught back.

Outside of the top-10, World Cup leader Van der Haar struggled with the slippery conditions while second-placed Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) rode in the first chase group behind Albert. As the race progressed, a heavy rain shower came down on the riders and the muddy course. Walsleben faded while Van der Haar was moving up. In the fifth lap Van der Haar bridged up to Walsleben and quickly left the German behind. World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) was also moving up through the field and together with Van der Haar he caught up with first chaser Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr). Together with the French champion they tried to get back to leader Albert, who was only a dozen of seconds ahead of the trio when hitting the eighth and final lap. Albert stood tall and won his second World Cup round of the season. Van der Haar won the sprint for second place ahead of Nys at only five seconds of Albert; Mourey didn’t sprint along and finished fourth.

In the World Cup standings Van der Haar now holds a bonus of 54 points on Albert and 63 points on Walsleben, who finished eleventh in Rome. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) didn’t start in Rome and tumbles from third to fifth overall in the World Cup standings.

In the Women’s category Katherine Compton and World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) fought out a race long duel in Rome on Sunday afternoon. At first they were joined by Belgian rider Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) but she faded by the end of the first lap. Compton and Vos exchanged accelerations without causing major damage. During the third of four laps Vos struggled to keep up with Compton a first time but she fought her way back to Compton’s wheel. Compton kept the pace high and halfway through the final lap, at the switchbacks which dig deep into the energy levels, Vos had to bow her head. At the finish line Compton had an advantage of twenty-four seconds. Italian champion Eva Lechner (Centro Sportivo Esercito) was best of the rest, more than a minute behind the winner.

Lechner won the battle for the final podium spot from French rider Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) with a final lap acceleration. The Italian spectators clearly appreciated the strong ride from their local favourite, who placed herself on the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup podium for the first time ever. Nearly two minutes from the winner British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) finished in ninth place. Nevertheless Harris remains in second place in the World Cup standings, 28 points ahead of Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) and 39 points ahead of Vos.

On Sunday morning the races in the youth categories were contested in rainy conditions. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) captured his fourth World Cup win of the season and the overall victory in the World Cup in the Men Under 23 category. He held off a comeback from Wout Van Aert (Belgium). In the Junior Men category Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic) won his third World Cup round of the season while rival Yannick Peeters (Belgium) only managed a ninth place in Rome. Toupalik takes over the lead in the World Cup.

The next round of the World Cup will take place in Nommay, France, in three weeks time.

cycledude (868 Posts)