By: Zach Nehr
DVV Trofee Hotondcross
36 – That is the number of consecutive cyclocross races that Mathieu Van Der Poel won between November 2018 and this past Saturday. The Dutchman’s streak was ended by Belgian Toon Aerts, who rode away to a solo victory in the technical and muddy course at Hotondcross. Eli Iserbyt also beat Van Der Poel, pushing the Dutchman into the final spot on the podium. Cracks started to form early for the usually-unstoppable Van Der Poel. By the race’s midpoint, Aerts already had a solo lead of 30 seconds over Iserbyt and Van Der Poel who were chasing behind. In the DVV’s time-based series, Aerts never let off the gas, and won by an incredible 90 seconds over his countryman Iserbyt, and a defeated Van Der Poel, who is only just coming off a warm-weather training camp with his Corendon-Circus team. Despite his massive winning margin, Aerts remains in second place overall in the DVV Trofee series standings, 1:45 behind Eli Iserbyt.
Dutch women dominated again in the women’s Elite race at Hotondcross. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado got away in the early moments of the race, quickly building up a solo lead on the wet and muddy course. Crashes were the story of the day, with the best riders in the world slipping and sliding in the Belgian mud. World Champion Sanne Cant even took a tumble on the final lap, knocking her out of podium contention after a long battle with eventual third place, Yara Kastelijn. Annemarie Worst had gone clear of everyone else, but could do nothing to catch the flying Alvarado, who added another Elite win to her palmarès. Worst continues to lead the DVV Trofee series overall, 56 seconds ahead of Alvarado who jumped ahead of Kastelijn in the standings.
It didn’t take long for Van Der Poel to restart his win streak – the Dutchman won Druivencross in impressive fashion on Sunday, finishing 14 seconds clear of Tom Pidcock who finished second on the day. Eli Iserbyt led out, with Van Der Poel cruising in the chase pack for the first few laps. After biding his time, the Dutchman hit the front and instantly opened up a gap with habitual ease. Van Der Poel was never to be caught, but Pidcock and Quinten Hermans held him relatively close, the Brit finishing second and the Belgian finishing third less than 30 seconds behind our usual winner.
Annemarie Worst put together an incredible performance on Sunday, winning Druivencross solo, over a minute clear of countrywomen Lucinda Brand. After taking the lead on the opening lap, Worst was never to be seen again. Brand and Italian Alice Maria Arzuffi were best of the rest, and pulled out of the chase group in the battle for second place. Only on the final lap was Brand able to distance Arzuffi who broke up the Dutch podium sweep by finishing third on the day.
USA Cyclocross National Championships
Clara Honsinger is your elite women’s CX National Champion. Few names other than ‘Compton’ have been uttered at the beginning of that sentence for the better part of two decades. Honsinger is the first rider since Alison Dunlap in 2003 to beat Katie Compton at the US National Championships. Compton’s 15-year run in the stars and stripes will go down as one of the greatest-ever achievements in the history of cycling. As Compton said herself in a post-race interview, “It’s pretty amazing. I’m pretty happy to win from [age] 25 to 40, that’s not too bad. I knew it would end sometime and I would have liked to have gotten one more. I did what I could, and Clara and Becca were faster. What can you do?”
Rebecca Fahringer had an excellent start and joined Compton at the front of the elite women’s race in the first lap. Eventually, Compton began to fade, and she was soon passed by Honsinger, the 2018 U23 National Champion racing in her first Elite National Championships. Honsinger linked up with Fahringer, and the duo began to pull away from Compton and the rest of the elite women’s field. The decisive moment came in the mud, as it often does in cyclocross – Honsinger opened up a small gap over Fahringer on a steep run-up, and then cemented her lead when Fahringer slipped on a muddy off-camber descent soon after. The Portland-native dug deep in the final laps, using the energy of the crowd as a boost in what felt like a home race for her. “Riding through the tunnel and hearing my name was amazing. It lit the fire to race on,” Honsinger said in a post-race interview. In the end, Honsinger crossed the line 29 seconds clear of Fahringer, and 1:20 clear of Compton who still put in a valiant effort to finish third. Courtney McFadden and Kaitlin Keough rounded out the Top 5 in the elite women’s race.
Another Elite race, another 22 year-old, and another new US CX National Champion – Gage Hecht led the elite men’s race from the gun and never looked back. He was briefly joined by Kerry Werner, who’s been having a breakout year in 2019, and the two linked up at the front in the opening laps. But as it had in the elite women’s race, a muddy descent would again create the decisive gap. Hecht bobbled on a downhill, got caught in a rut, and flew into the course tape – nearly taking out a number of spectators. Behind, Werner was coming in hot, and with little time to react to a slowing Hecht, he too got bucked by the rut and went into the course tape. Werner was much worse off, as he went flipping over his bike and into the mud. A stunned Hecht rode away, while Werner picked himself back up, but not long after he was passed by the chasing duo of Curtis White and Stephen Hyde. Werner never fully recovered from the crash, and would go on to finish the day in fourth place.
White and Hyde, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammates, worked together to close the gap to Hecht. At one point, they were within five seconds, but Hecht kept the power down and the gap started to grow. White would go on to finish second, with defending National Champion Hyde in third. Werner and Lance Haidet rounded out the Top 5, while EF Education First rider and former National Champion, Logan Owen, finished an impressive sixth.
A host of other National Championship races took place throughout the week, including Juniors, U23s, Collegiate, and Masters Races. Andrew Strohmeyer added to his Pan American Championship by winning the Junior Men’s 17-18 race early Sunday morning. Jared Scott finished second, while 2018 Junior Road World Championship medalist Magnus Sheffield finished third.
Madigan Munro won the Junior Women’s 17-18 race, ahead of Michaela Thompson in second and Lizzy Gunsalus in third.
Katie Clouse won the U23 women’s race over two minutes clear of second place, Hannah Arensman, with Shannon Mallory finishing in third. Clouse’s U23 title was her second of the week after the winning the Collegiate Varsity race with Colorado Mesa on Thursday.
Eric Brunner also won both the U23 and Collegiate Club titles, the former ahead of Collegiate Varsity Champion Caleb Schwartz from Marian University, and the latter with University of Colorado-Boulder. Scott Funston finished third in the U23 men’s race.
Upcoming CX Schedule
Waaslandcross in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium serves as the appetizer this weekend to a busy Christmas period and two upcoming World Cups. The UCI C2 race takes place on December 21st, before the sixth round of the 2019-2020 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Namur, Belgium on Sunday, December 22nd. The seventh round of the World Cup follows just four days later, on December 26th, in Heusden-Zolder.