Niels Albert rode a flawless attacking performance at Hoogerheide to win the World cyclo-cross Championship.
The 22-year-old Belgian, who suffered a ruptured spleen earlier this season, led the race from start to finish to add the senior rainbow jersey to last year?s under-23 title.
Despite a spirited chase from Czech Zdenek Stybar, Albert soloed to victory with ample time to celebrate the victory before Stybar crossed the line. Sven Nys completed the podium positions.
Albert looked untroubled throughout the hour-long race on the hard but bumpy ground, unlike one of the pre-race favourites Lars Boom. An early bike change saw the Dutchman lose contact with the 12-strong chasing group and he never recovered on this super-fast course.
With their man holding a 12-second lead over chaser Stybar, the Belgian squad held all the cards, with five riders sitting comfortably in the bunch before, first Nys, then Bart Wellens, peeled off the front to ensure at least two out of the three medals made the short trip back across the border to Belgium.
The three British riders battled away in this lightening-paced race, with Jody Crawforth finishing best of the Brits in 31st.
ELITE MEN: RESULTS
1. Niels Albert (Belgium)
2. Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
3. Sven Nys (Belgium)
4. Bart Wellens (Belgium)
5. Francis Mourey (France)
6. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)
7. Sven Vanthourenhout (Belgium)
8. Simon Zahner (Switzerland)
9. Steve Chainel (France)
10. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium)
31. Jody Crawforth
39. Ian Field
48. Paul Oldham
Top British finisher Jody Crawforth
A muddy Ian Field
2009 CYCLO-CROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: LINKS
Cyclo-Cross World Championships photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>
Elite men: Solo victory for Albert in Holland
Elite women: Wyman crashes while Vos wins
Under-23 men: Fletcher shows promise
Juniors: Dutchman takes gold
World cross champs: blog from Hoogerheide