What a fantastic day of racing at Koksijde.
It’s easy to see why so many riders and fans love this course, and it was great to see so many cheering on despite the atrocious weather conditions and security concerns. There may have been a lot of sand on this course, but the riders where showing real grit and determination. Nikki Harris showed this in bucketfuls in her race, the first UCI channel televised race of the day.
The race pace was high from the start and early attacks by Havlickova and De Boer set the tone, but it only took a couple of laps for the on-form Harris to hit the front, with Sanne Cant on her wheel. Unfortunately the British woman suffered a mechanical and dropped down through the field before she was able to pit. In the meantime Cant built a strong lead over the chasing pack.
Coming from 5th, Harris started to reel in all those ahead of her to get back to second place, showing great courage in doing so. She was able to close in on Sant without really troubling her. Once again, it’s a case of what might have been for Harris. As for Cant, she once again showed why she is dominating women’s ‘cross at the moment as she cruised home to take the win and series lead. American, Katie Compton, slugged it out with De Boer & Havlickova, before breaking away to take a solid third place.
- Sanne Cant (Belgium)
- Nikki Harris (Britain)
- Katie Compton (USA)
6. Helen Wyman
20. Hannah Payton
27. Amira Mellor
35. Bethany Crumpton
There were many points of interest around the men’s race. Mathieu van der Poel was making his return, Sven Nijs won his first race of the season at Hasselt, while many were looking at Wout van Aert to continue his winning streak. In the end, all three riders would pay back the interest as they lit up the race.
Van der Poel started strong alongside his countryman Lars van der Haar as they hit the front earliy and stretched the race out. Van der Poel had stated his aim pre-race, of finishing in the Top 10, but it was clear he was looking for more. However both Dutch riders were overhauled and a duel between the ‘old hand’ Sven Nijs and ‘young pretender’ Wout van Aert began that would hold the viewer captivated to the very end.
Nijs continually attacked the younger man, forcing him into making a lot of small mistakes as the two slithered around the muddy, sandy parcours. Van Aert put in some attacks of his own, but nether rider could shake off the other. Behind, Kevin Pauwels was looking strong for 3rd place as he gapped the like of Van der Poel, Tom Meeuwsen and Van der Haar. Despite riding well for several laps, he gradually fell back through the field and Van der Poel took command of 3rd, a postion he would not relinquish.
Meanwhile, back at the front Nijs and Van Aert continued to knock lumps out of each other, but they were unable to land a telling blow. A late puncture for Van Aert would not hold him back as he was able to change quickly and Nijs was unable to capitalize. As the two came to the final muddy section, Nijs used his positioning and power to blast through the mud and pass Van Aert. Nijs had enough distance on Wout in the final straight to sit up and celebrate a superb World Cup win.
So just when it looked like Van Aert was set to dominate the men’s season, the performances of Nijs and Van der Poel showed he will not have it his own way.
- Sven Nijs (Belgium)
- Wout van Aert (Belgium)
- Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands
24. Ian Field
46. Jack Clarkson
Next up in the world Cup is a round at Namen on 20/12.
You can catch up with today’s races here.