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Lars Boom proved he deserved the role of favourite for the Elite cyclo-cross world championships by storming to victory with a powerful last lap attack.

The 20 year-old Dutchman got a gap on a steep climb and then accelerated away to open victory. At the finish, after nine-laps of super fast racing, Boom won by a handful of second ahead of Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic and Belgian rival but Rabobank teammate Sven Nys.

Great Britain?s Rob Jebb and Paul Oldham started at the back of the grid and struggled to compete against the high-speed professionals. Jebb eventually finished best Brit in 51st place at 4-45, with Oldham just behind in 52nd place at 4-54.

Great Britain’s Paul Oldham and Rob Jebb in action. Photo by Luc Claessen

Before Boom?s big attack the hour of racing had been played out like a chess match. Riders took turns to make brief attacks but nobody grabbed the race by the horns. Boom, the Belgians, the French and Czech pair Radomir Simunek and
Zdenek Stybar chased down each other, while young Italian Marco Aurelio Fontana tried to hang on and help his injured team mate Enrico Franzoi.

Just when a sprint on the uphill finish seemed on the cards, Richard Groenendaal strung out the bunch and then Boom took over from his team mate and blasted clear to victory.

?It was a crazy race and a very, very big group for most of the race. To be honest I wasn?t feeling that good early in the race but things went better later on and then I did the final attack on the steep part of the course,? Boom explained.

?It was fast, muddy and slippy but was a very hard race because of the different types of surface. I was favourite but I didn?t think I?d become world champion. I thought I?d could do it next year but it?s just crazy, crazy feeling.?

Boom is a talented road rider as much as he is a cross star. He was junior world champion four years ago and Under 23 world champion last year but was also under 23 world time trial champion in 2006 and won 17 road races in 2007 as part of the Rabobank Continental team.

(l-r) Zdenek Stybar, Lars Boom, Sven Nys. Photo by Luc Claessen

RESULTS: ELITE MEN
1 Lars Boom (Netherlands)
2 Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic) at 5secs
3 Sven Nys (Belgium) at 6secs
4 Erwin Vervecken (Belgium) 9secs
5 Radomir Simunek (Czech Republic) at 10secs
6 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) 10secs
7 Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium) at 10secs
8 Christian Heule (Switzerland) at 12secs
9 John Gadret (France) at 12secs
10 Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) at 12secs.

ELITE WOMEN

Elite women photo gallery>>

Helen Wyman finished a disappointing 18th in the women?s cyclo-cross world championships in Italy on Sunday, as the fast course favoured the powerful road riders.

Wyman finished 2-58 behind Germany?s Hanka Kupfernagel who soloed to victory, using her time trial skills to take her fourth cyclo-cross world title.

Holland?s Marianne Vos, the young road star who beat Nicole Cooke in the 2006 world road race championships, finished second after a late charge took her past French trio Laurence Leboucher, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau and Maryline Salvetat. Gabriella Day was Britain?s only other finisher, crossing the line in 32nd place, 6-40 behind Kupfernagel.

Gabby Day. Photo by Luc Claessen

Wyman lined-up on the front row of the grid thanks to her excellent results in World Cup races this season and defend her position on the uphill start. She avoided two early crashes and was part of the front group that formed on the first lap but then crashed herself at the bottom of a descent. She was up quickly but lost contact with the strongest riders. She chased on her own but gradually slipped back and was overtaken by many of the riders she had beaten so often during the season.

Helen Wyman. Photo by Luc Claessen

Hanka Kupfernagel. Photo by Luc CLaessen

RESULTS: ELITE WOMEN
1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) 45.15
2 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 0.13
3 Laurence Leboucher (France) 0.17
4 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (France) 0.26
5 Maryline Salvetat (France) 0.52
6 Mirja Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands) 0.58
7 Wendy Simms (Canada) 1.04
8 Daphny Van Den Brand (Netherlands) 1.09
9 Rachel Lloyd (United States Of America) 1.23
10 Caroline Mani (France) 1.42

PHOTO GALLERIES
Elite men, Sunday January 27
Elite women, Sunday January 27
Under-23s, Saturday January 26
Juniors, Saturday January 26
Friday, January 25 photo gallery: riders training on the course

RELATED LINKS
Cyclo-Cross World Championships 2008 preview