Zipping around Zolder : UCI CX WC roundup

It was a great day’s racing at Zolder in Boxing Day for the UCI CX World Cup. The course was running dry and fast with little in the way of mud to deal with. Physically less demanding than last week at Namur, but with a sting in the tail in the shape of a strength-sapping run up (no steps here like last year) and a steep, but rideable section to get to the top of the course.

Many eyes were on Nikki Harris today in the women’s race, unfortunately for her she was a little off the pace. Her teammate Ellen van Loy quickly formed a leading group with Sanne Cant and Katie Compton, and this trio would never look back. Toward the backend of the race, Van Loy was dropped as Cant and Compton traded attacks,  before the Belgian finally managed to jettison the American and take the win. This race showed the strength of Cant, despite her rib injury. Further down the field Caroline Mani picked up a 5th place, following up her silver slot at Namur. Eva Lechner was also looking good  until she face planted on a drop off, causing her to finish further down in 8th, relinquishing her lead in the World Cup Series.

Top 3
1. Sanne Cant Bel
2. Katie Compton USA
3. Ellen van Loy NL

The Brits
10. Nikki Harris
12. Helen Wyman
32. Hannah Payton
49. Amira Mellor

The men’s race followed a similar pattern. Early skirmishes at the front came to an end when Lars van der Haar and fellow Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel forged ahead. Only the Belgian hard man Kevin Pauwels was strong enough to bridge across and these three would never be caught. On the back end of the 3rd last lap VDP put in a strong dig up the run and ride up section to create a gap back to Lars and Kevin. The gap was closed down with some effort, but this was a preview of what was to happen on the penultimate lap. VDP practically sprinted up this tough section, breaking Van Der Haar in the process, who unfortunately had a puncture (lek). Pauwels doggedly tried to stay with the young Dutchman, but could not get back on terms.

Van der Poel soloed the last lap to seal two World Cup wins on the bounce and confirm he is also back on top form after recovering from a knee injury. VDP suggested that Van der Haar was probably the strongest rider, but the puncture put paid to his attempts to win. Klaas Vantornout also looked strong again, leading early on and often at the front of the chasing pack. Tom Meeuwsen pipped him to 4th place, but Vantornout seems to be hitting some form at the right time. On the other hand both Sven Nijs and Wout van Aert had quiet days and were rarely involved. Perhaps they were keeping their powder dry ahead of the World Championships, which will be held on the same course in 7 weeks time.

Speaking of which, today was a good day to get a feel for the course, but, as Mathieu van der Poel said, anything can happen between now and then and the course could get super muddy, it might even snow. Either way, the champs will have their own rhythm.

Top 3
1. Mathieu van der Poel NL
2. Kevin Pauwels Bel
3. Lars van der Haar NL

The Brits

31. Ian Field
60. James Spragg

There are two races left in Lignieres en Berry and Hoogerheide. From the standings below you can see things are tight in both the women’s and men’s races; with 80 points on offer for a win, there is all to ride for in the last two rounds.

Series Standings Women
1. Sanne Cant 222
2. Eva  Lechner 203
3. Katie Compton 175
4. Nikki Harris 162
5. Ellen van Loy 155

Series Standings Men
1. Wout van Art 336
2. Lars van der Haar 320
3. Sven Nijs 303
4. Kevin Pauwels 296
5. Mathieu van der Poel 225

Apologies from me from my last post. The races were broadcast on Eurosport in the UK, which meant UK IPs were blocked from watching on the YouTube UCI channel. A bummer if you don’t have Eurosport, but it will interesting to see if they pick up the remaining two races and World Champs.

Please continue to drop by the site over the next few weeks as I will be previewing and reporting on the various CX national championships coming up, as well as the remaining World Cup rounds and the World  Champs. I will also be racing a few rounds of the Superquaich and South Lanarkshire Series  and will be blogging on that too.


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