Among the Americans there was plenty of disappointment too. Jonathan Page, apparently sick with bronchitis, rode into the top ten early in the race, but started to fade by the second lap, and abandoned the race.
Jeremy Powers climbed as high as 26th, but was pulled with two laps to go. Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll, officially 34th and 42nd respectively, were out of the race with three to go. Chris Jones, out at the midpoint of the race, was 43rd.
After the race, Johnson said that it was simply not a course that suited the American contingent’s strengths.
“It’s like golf,” he told VeloNews.com. “This is like St. Andrews, and not every golfer can play St. Andrews to their potential. It’s beyond belief when you’re out there. We don’t do this kind of course every year (at the worlds). I’ve been racing as an elite since 2000, and we’ve done this race once. One time out of twelve is ok. If we have a race like this once in my career, it’s fine. You can’t have the same races all the time. This is totally to an extreme, and that’s awesome. It’s a spectacle and an absolute success on every level of the sport. So if it’s not my kind of race, oh well. I can deal with that.”
Only Ryan Trebon managed to hang on for all ten laps of the race. Trebon rode as high as fifteenth early on, but faded to 18th by the end.
“I’m not particularly proud to be the only American finisher, I never go to be the top American. I want us all to be in the top fifteen,” he said. “I always want us all to do well, not just me. But those guys were hauling ass in the front.”
For the Belgians, meanwhile, there were no such concerns. And for Albert, the race was a career changer. The first Belgian to win a world championships at home since Erwin Vervecken; a rider who, just a few years ago, was seen as something of a villain by many fans, now is rapidly becoming a legend — the so-called X-Dune here will be renamed in his honor in future editions of races held on this course.
But Albert said he didn’t really see himself as any different, despite his growing list of palmares.
“In the last years I’ve gotten a little bit older, a little more relaxed, my mouth has been a little smaller,” he said. “But I still have respect for every rider. Every rider does his best to be in top condition every race; not just at the world championships, but in every race. And as world champion you have to have respect for everybody. I have as much respect for the last man in the race as the first.”