By: Zach Nehr
Tabor World Cup
Elite men’s cyclocross has resumed normal programming. Gone are the days of all-Belgian battles and new faces on the podium – Mathieu Van Der Poel is back, and he is winning. Everything. Despite starting from the third row in last Saturday’s World Cup, Van Der Poel crossed the finish line first after winning a last-lap battle with World Cup overall leader Eli Iserbyt. Uncharacteristically, it took more than 30 minutes before we saw Van Der Poel take control at the front of the race, and even when he did, he seemed to lack the otherworldly power and skills that have seen him dominate so easily in races past. Instead, Iserbyt and Lars Van Der Haar were able to stay with Van Der Poel until the final lap, the former of which even dreamed of victory until the final few hundred meters.
Saturday’s win marks the fourth for Van Der Poel in as many races this cyclocross season, this having been a trying week, and a trying race for the still only 24 year-old. He was understandably emotional in a post-race interview, saying, “It’s been a very tough week… I’m glad that I’ve won but it’s been much harder than I thought it would be – both physically and mentally it was tough”. Van Der Poel’s grandfather – cycling legend, Raymond Poulidor – passed away at the age of 83 earlier in the week. In an emotional tribute to his late grandfather, Van Der Poel later posted a picture of himself bunny-hopping the barriers in Saturday’s race with the caption, “I wish I could bunnyhop high enough to say hello. Hope you enjoyed the race from up there, this one was for you.”
In the women’s Elite race, it was the Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado who took the early lead. The young Dutchwoman has been on a fine run of form this season, including winning the U23 European Championships just last week. She’s also taken a number of wins in the Elite category this season, and early on in Saturday’s race, it looked to be another runaway win for Alvarado who opened up a solo 11-second lead after just one lap in Tabor. However, Annemarie Worst had something to say about that, and by the end of Lap 2 Worst had linked up with Alvarado at the front of the race. The pair stayed together until the final lap, and it was then that Worst took the lead and attacked through a series of steep climbs. Alvarado was clearly on her limit, and soon a decisive gap was formed. Worst cruised to a 10-second victory over Alvarado, with Yara Kastelijn coming home in 3rd to make it a Dutch sweep of the podium – Lucinda Brand added to the Dutch domination by finishing 4th following a fourth row start.
Several North American riders found their way into the Top 20 in the women’s Elite race – Katie Keough finished 8th, Katie Compton in 13th, and Maghalie Rochette in 16th after a flying start that saw her sitting second wheel through the holeshot.
European CX Wrap-up
The DVV Trofee series continued on Sunday at Flandriencross in Hamme, Belgium. We saw the same elite race winners as Saturday’s World Cup in Mathieu Van Der Poel and Annemarie Worst, albeit under very different circumstances.
Not having to contend with a third-row start, Van Der Poel was off to the races on Lap 1, quickly opening up a serious gap to the rest of the field. Laurens Sweeck was the only rider to get within reach of Van Der Poel, but even the stone-faced Belgian couldn’t close the gap to the flying Dutchman. Van Der Poel soloed to a 40-second win over Sweeck, and an all-important 1:10 ahead of series leader Eli Iserbyt. The DVV Trofee is a time-based series, and Van Der Poel now sits just under four minutes behind series leader Iserbyt. In the short and technical world of cyclocross, riders are usually separated by seconds, not by minutes. But if there is anyone who can close a four-minute gap over a series of races, it is the uber-talented Van Der Poel.
The elite women’s race was a far more exciting affair in Hamme, with a four-rider battle taking the story lines. Annemarie Worst, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Yara Kastelijn, and Sanne Cant rode away from the rest of the field and fought to distance each other until the final moments of the race. In the end, it was Worst who came out of top, finishing a scant two seconds ahead of a hard-charging Cant in 2nd, with Alvarado taking the sprint for 3rd ahead of Kastelijn. Americans Katie Compton and Katie Keough swapped their finishing positions from Saturday, with Compton finishing in 8th and Keough in 13th.
American CX Report
The UCI C2 Major Taylor Cross Cup took place this past weekend on a newly revamped course that wound through the Major Taylor Velodrome – training and racing grounds for Midwest track riders and Marian University students alike. In the men’s Elite race, Marian graduate Drew Dillman took the win on Day 1, with Alex Morton finishing in 2nd, and current Marian student Caleb Schwartz in 3rd after being hampered by a mechanical.
Clara Honsinger soloed to the win in the women’s Elite race on Day 1, ahead of Raylyn Nuss in 2nd, and former Major Taylor Cross Cup winner Sunny Gilbert in 3rd.
Both Dillman and Honsinger repeated their wins on Sunday, with Cody Cupp’s 2nd place in the men’s Elite race being the only change to the podiums between the two days.
The second round of the 2019 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series took place at the Rockland County Supercross Cup in Suffern, New York. Many of the top riders came to New York fresh off the Pan-American Championships last weekend in Canada, some looking to for the continuation of good form and matching results, others looking for redemption.
Rebecca Fahringer, who was coming off a third-place finish at Pan-Am’s, took the win on Saturday followed by Courtenay McFadden in 2nd. The pair put a huge gap into the rest of the field, with Carla Williams being the best of the rest in 3rd, finishing nearly two minutes behind Fahringer.
The men’s Elite race was one of Pan-Am redemption for Curtis White and the entire Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld team who swept the podium with White, Stephen Hyde in 2nd, and Lane Maher in 3rd. Newly-crowned Pan-American Champion Kerry Werner finished in 4th after a close battle with Maher in the final laps.
Sunday saw another weekend sweep in the elite races, with Fahringer taking the win over McFadden, and Ruby West jumping Carla Williams to take the final spot on Sunday’s podium. Curtis White led the second consecutive podium sweep Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld, with Maher and Hyde swapping places on the podium to finish in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Upcoming CX Schedule
The 2019-2020 UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup continues on Sunday, November 24th in Koksijde, Belgium. A fan favorite, the Duinen Koksijde (“Cyclocross of Dunes”) is one of the most infamous races in the sport. The track is made up of huge sand pits that descend down into the center of the course, forming a giant bowl filled with thousands of passionate spectators. These races are a much watch, from dedicated fans to first-time watchers. Both elite races will be streamed live on Redbull TV.
Americans will head to Hendersonville, North Carolina on November 23rd and 24th for the UCI C2 North Carolina Grand Prix.