Francis Mourey (FDJ) won a muddy fourth round of the UCI World Cup on Sunday in Namur.
Mourey soloed to the win with a 24-second advantage over runner-up Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), with Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) rounding out the podium in third at 30 seconds.
The Frenchman, who took his first and only other World Cup victory in 2006 in Treviso, was elated at having claimed another.
“This is only my second World Cup victory, yes, but I’ve often been on the podium. I always have ridden good races in this classification. That I now once again stood on the top step of the podium is encouraging.
“You can’t compare [my win in Treviso] to today. Then it was a very fast, very nervous race. Here in Namur was the heaviest ’cross on the circuit. This was special, though.
“If you can win in the World Cup in such a hard race, and in such weather, that’s really beautiful.”
World champion Sven Nys (Crelen-KDL), flatted almost immediately after the start, crashed in the finale and eventually finished fourth, five seconds behind Albert.
“Just after we left the first paved section my front tube was suddenly completely flat, without hitting a rock or anything like that. I saw almost 60 riders go by,” Nys said. “There was nothing to do but meter out the effort and hope I could find my rhythm. The big problem was that I lost two laps while I passed all the slower riders.
“That I eventually made it almost to the front I think shows my condition is really good. In the last lap I let the adrenaline take me over a little too much. I still believed there was hope for a mistake by Mourey, so I went over my limit and that led to a mistake that may have cost me second place.”
Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), who likewise crashed on a sketchy downhill and had to settle for fifth on the day, continues to lead the World Cup with 257 points. Philipp Walsleben (BKCP) sits second with 244 and Albert third with 235.
Earlier in the day, defending World Cup champ Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) won the women’s race, finishing 40 seconds up on world champ Marianne Vos (Rabobank).
Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) finished third at 46 seconds.
Compton said she had an “awful” start after missing her pedal and found herself in the tail end of the top 20 early on.
“It’s such a hard course that I just knew if I tried to go too deep too soon it would catch up to me. So I just tried to be patient and smooth and made a couple of good passes and caught Marianne on the second lap on one of the run-ups, and I was surprised that I was riding so well,” she said.
“I’m still surprised to win. I’ve beaten (Marianne) a couple of times in the past, and the few times I have, I’m really excited. She’s such a phenomenal bike racer that I know I’m riding well if I can even race against her, and to beat her is pretty amazing. I’m really happy with that.”
American Katie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) cracked the top 10, crossing seventh on the day.
“I just tried to have a good start and settle in, and I think I do best when I don’t think about it. When I overthink I get myself in trouble,” she said. “I already had a good ride in Tabor, so I just wanted to relax and ride my best and I did. I’m really happy with that, it was a really good ride.”
Compton leads the World Cup with 230 points. Harris sits second with 185, with Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) third with 141.
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this story.