And so another chapter in Cyclocross history is written.
A few of those pages may be bit soggy after the Ohio river rose to alarming levels, forcing the race organizers to bring the elite men’s and womens races forward and run all races on the one day. But ‘Super Saturday’ threw up some great racing, exciting moments and four world champions to make it all worthwhile.
The Juniors were up first on a course still covered in a dusting of snow, which melted away as the day progressed. Matthieu van der Poel of the Netherlands won this race in commanding fashion ahead of his countryman Martin Budding. The Czech Adam Toupalik took third to keep local (it’s all relative!) hero Logan Owen out of the medals. The Orange medal crush continued in the U-23 race as Mike Teunissen stole home ahead of the Belgian duo of Wietse Bosmans & Wout van Aert to take the gold.
And Orange was the colour again in the women’s race when Marianne Vos pulverized the opposition to take her umpteenth ‘cross rainbow jersey and gold medal to go with her umpteen other jerseys and golds she has won across the disciplines throughout her career. Vos oozes class no matter what type of bike she is on. Katie Compton came 2nd for the second time and just could not turn that silver in to gold. Frenchwoman Lucie Chainer-Lefevre profited from an unfortunate mechanical for the Czech Katerina Nash (chain problems) in the sprint for third and claimed bronze. The British girls had a disappointing day partly due to a very early crash and finished outside the top 10. (An honourable mention for oor ain Gen Whitson who finished 29th).
Attention turned to the final race of the day and the beered-up and gee-ed up crowd of thousands got ready for the men’s showdown. Could Albert retain the jersey from last year? Or would a Belgian team-mate steal his thunder? Or perhaps the American duo Powers & Page (sounds like a law firm) would ‘get in aboot’ them.
Louisville 2013 – image courtesy for EvilHippo on Flickr
The early part of the race was all about Francis Mourey (France) who tried hard to get away from the snarling Belgian pack. Something we have seen so often in recent races. But those dogs would not let their prey go and Nys, Vantornout & Pauwels came to the fore, with the young Dutchman Van der Haar pushing and pushing to get on the front. Pauwels chain snapped (again) and his chances drifted away (again) while Nys & Vantornout forged ahead. This race seemed to be going down to the wire, but when Vantournout got tangled up with barrier netting at the top of a section of stairs on the final lap, Nys pulled away to take the gold medal and rainbow jersey. Only the second of his long and victory-laden career. He is for sure one of the all-time ‘cross greats. Vantornout (recently crowned Belgian champion) battered his bike in frustration as he rolled over the line a few seconds down on Nys in second, while Van der Haar finished a strong third (not bad for someone who can still ride as an u-23) to add to the Dutch medal haul.
So the Benelux dominance of Cyclocross from last year continues, but a few more nations featured on the podium this year and there was no 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 for Belgium in the men’s race like last year.
Roll on 2014 & Hoogerheide…
(this first appeared at the CXAddict website)