Cross at the Castle – Namur roundup

Women’s race

The start  of the women’s race saw Eva Lechner and Christine Majerus set the early pace along with Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris. Wyman managed to get tangled in the tape at the top of one of the characteristic drop-offs, and lost some positions she would never regain. World Cup leader Sanne Cant was still suffering muscle pain from a crash a couple of weeks ago. Despite a strong showing  at the Scheldecross she would not feature at the pointy end of this race.

Nikki Harris came to the front toward the end of the first lap and followed up with a huge uphill dig early in the second to gap teammate Helen van Loy as well as the early leaders.  The Brit quickly built some rhythm and a lead to remain comfortable for the remainder of the race.

There was a real ding dong for 2nd behind Harris as Lechner, Van Loy and Compton all traded places before the impressive French rider Caroline Mani came through on the penultimate lap. Atmospheric microphones picked up how heavy she was breathing and it was written all over her face how hard Mani was working. She got her reward as she finished a strong second. Compton and Lechner duelled ferociously for third, with the Italian pipping Compton on the final run-in.

In the end it was a stunning solo win from Compton, and her first at a World Cup. It bodes well for the weeks leading up to the World Championships at the end of January.

  1. Nikki Harris GB
  2. Caroline Mani Fr
  3. Eva Lechner Ita

Men’s race

The uphill charge from the gun was lead by the old man of cyclocross himself,  Sven Nijs. He showed great handling through the off camber, nutty rutty section and some fluid off and ons. He also chose to ride up where others struggled to run. It did, however, seem that this hard work early in the race affected him, as Nijs struggled thereafter. Did he burn his matched too early?

In the meantime fellow Belgian Thijs Aerts set a high tempo stringing things out. Then on the nutty rutty section on lap four Lars van der Haar took the lead with one leg in the air. Funny to look at, hard to do.

Into lap five and Lars slips on a transition section giving up his lead. Then the Van Aertful Dodger and Mathieu van der Poel pull away, dragging last year’s winner Kevin Pauwels with them. This group was now free and clear to dispute the final placings. Pauwels seemed content to adopt a watching brief as the Vans slugged it out at the front for a couple of laps . Coming into the final lap K-Pau made a jump to the lead, but was quickly relegated by Van Aert and Van der Poel. It was touch and go who would take the victory,  but in the final few hundred metres it was the young Dutchman Van der Poel who had enough to drop Van Aert and clinch a hard-fought win on the slopes of Namur.

  1. Mathieu van der Poel NL
  2. Wout van Aert Bel
  3. Kevin Pauwels Bel

Next week is the start of the Belgian ‘Cross Holy Week as races come thick and fast. Tune back in to Moto3 for previews of Holy Week and the upcoming UCI World Cup races.

And tune in to the UCI channel for full replays of today’s excellent races.

 

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