World champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) and American Katie Compton (Planet Bike) took commanding victories in the first World Cup cyclocross of the season on Sunday in Aigle, Switzerland.
Compton soloed to victory ahead of Daphny van den Brand (Netherlands) and Katerina Nash (Luna) on the dry, dusty course, which served up plenty of short, steep ups and downs, a staircase run-up, a BMX-style rhythm section, a sand pit and a double set of barriers that eight of the top 10 were bunny-hopping.
And Stybar raced away from the bunch with five laps to go, taking an insurmountable lead over a powerful group of chasers.
With three laps to go Stybar had a gap of 20 seconds over Francis Mourey (FdJ), Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), Klass Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor), Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant) and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus)
Aernouts dropped his chain with three to go and fell out of contention. Up front, Stybar was flawless, clinging to a margin of 20 seconds with two laps to go and Albert leading the chase, which had fragmented into ones and twos.
Going into the bell lap, Albert had closed to within 15 seconds, but he would not catch the leader. The world champion took the victory in 1:03:48, which Albert second at nine seconds and Pauwels third at 14.
“Today was very tough. Every race is very difficult to win,” Stybar said afterward. But he certainly made it look easy.
Stybar has a chance to make it look easy in front of a very partisan home crowd next week, as the World Cup heads to Pilzen in the Czech Republic on Sunday.
1. Katherine Compton, (USA), Planet Bike, 40:07
2. Daphny Van Den Brand, (NED), at 0:30
3. Katerina Nash, (CZE), Luna Pro Team, at 0:38
4. Sanne Van Paassen, (NED), at 0:39
5. Hanka Kupfernagel, (GER), at 1:09
6. Helen Wyman, (GBR), Kona, at 1:24
7. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, (FRA), Vienne Futuroscope, at 1:30
8. Sanne Cant, (BEL), at 1:48
9. Caroline Mani, (FRA), Vienne Futuroscope, at 1:49