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2011 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships: Vos and Stybar keep their titles
Three world titles in the last three years: after her victory in St. Wendel, Marianne Vos -- who had already won the gold medal in the Elite category in 2006 at Zeddam -- certainly deserves to be considered the biggest cyclo-cross specialist of all time.
This versatile Dutch athlete -- who also possesses an impressive list of achievements on the road and on the track -- once again knew how to cope with the different race situations.
After fairly easily controlling the repeated attempts by Katherine Compton, the main favourite for the event, Vos launched her attack in the final lap. Neither the American, nor the Czech Katerina Nash, who accompanied them in the lead group, was able to react. The distance between them grew, and at the finish they were forced to concede 17'' and 20'' respectively to their rival.
In fourth place and 42'' off the winner, Hanka Kupfernagel gave it her all, with the pride of a great champion who would have like to offer the German public another victory on the same course as in 2005 when she obtained the third of her four world titles.
Elite Men: Stybar's victorious return
If Marianne Vos has now earned the right to a place in cycling's history, Zdenek Stybar appears to be on the right path to do the same. Twelve months after his victory in Tabor, the Czech -- who had to sit out a good part of the season due to injury -- dominated the last race in the 2011 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships just one week after coming back to competition.
Despite his tenacity, Sven Nys -- World Champion in St. Wendel in 2005 when Stybar donned his first rainbow jersey in the Under-23s -- finally had to bow to the undeniable supremacy of his rival. Eighteen seconds separated the two best riders of the day at the finish line. Kewin Pauwels finished almost one minute later in front of the French rider Francis Mourey and the German Philipp Walsleben, completing the final podium of this edition of the World Championships, which was raced in the sun.