Located in Ronse, East-Flandria the Hotondcross which got his name from the Hotond-Arena has been the place of tough but thrilling races during the past. But in former years bad weather turned the race into a true mudwar quite often leading to fewer spectators than the organizers would have deserved. But this time the bright sunshine of a lovely autumn day set the scene for some decent and exciting races.
Slowly belgian cyclocross season is getting into full throttle. Last weekend in the dutch town of Gieten, the Superprestige was launches and now, as usual for a couple of years, the bpost bank Trofee emerged with the Grand Prix Mario de Clersq.
Jens Dekker wins again
The young dutch rider of the Enertherm BKCP Team showed up as the superior contender and dominated the race right from the beginning. Immediately Dekker accompanied by his teammate Jappe Jaspers took the lead and both seperated themself from the remaining peloton. While the race continued, both riders extended their lead. Coming to the end, Dekker proved the he was the strongest and left his teammate behind, who managed to finished second without any danger. Seppe Rombouts completed the podium.
First U23 Victory for Eli Iserbyt
It looks as if Ronse is the place to be for Eli Iserbyt, he managed to get away with the winners trophy since 2012 without an interruption. The former belgian junior champion, who starts his first season in the U23 category cleared out from his contenders even before the first lap was done.
Some experts feared that he might have attacked too early to gain the victory. Most of them suspected that he would not be able to keep the pace until the end, especially since U23 races last ten minutes longe than the juniors races Iserbyt was used to.
But the young gun of Telenet Fidea Cycling Team proved the doubters wrong as he consistently paced in front of the race making nearly no mistakes during the technical difficult descends. At the end the race has lasted even a bit longer than 55 minutes when Iserbyt stretched his arms into the blue sky over Ronse to celebrate his first U23 victory. He crossed the finishing line three quarters of a minute ahead of Jonas Degroote who finished in second place shortly in front of Dan Hoeyberghs.
First time victory for Havlikova
During this summer the relationship between Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team and Pavla Havlikova surprisingly came to an end. But it seems as if for Havlikova the separation did not come in for bad.
Right from the start Havlikova proved that she came back to belgian ground in a really good shape. During the first few sections she left the leading role to her former teammate Nikki Harris but even before hitting the finishing straight for the first time she started her impressive solo ride. Due to her small size and weight Havlikova had to struggle a bit in the slippery descends but that did not stop the pleasant rider. Driving just as regular as a swiss clockwork, Havlikova kept her lead without beeing endangered at any time.
Belgian champion Sanne Cant, who was named as the main favorite by former world champion Niels Albert, was caught in a bad hair day. She started quite well, but had to realize she could not content on her normal level of performance. During the race she had to fight quite hard to keep her position.
Jolien Verschueren on the other hand started off badly, but managed to advance slowly but consistently while the race went on. With two laps to go, she managed to close up to Nikki Harris who was in second position at that time. Verschueren passed Harris and managed to run up to 15 Seconds behind Havlikova. Harris defended position three, while Sanne Cant manged to keep ahead of Ellen van Loy with her last ounce of strength and finished fourth 1:17 behind Havlikova.
It’s been a hard days work
Wout van Aert started into this opener of the bpost bank Trofee as the runaway favorite, as he managed to finish all four races of this season as the winner. Beeing last years winner of the series he could enter the starting grid wearing a golden bib number which was newly introduced this year. But who thought this race would become another easy win for him was wrong. It should become a hard day in the office for the vice world champion.
Lars van der Haar who won the cauberg cross on a simmilar track last year proved that he does like a parcours like this one on the flanks of the Hotond-Arena. So it was no surprise when the former dutch champion took the initiative and formed the first lead. Rapidly a bunch of four riders consisting of van der Haar, van Aert, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys determined the race.
Surprisingly van Aert did not seem to be as dominant as he was during the last races. Quite the contrary, it seemed as if he had to struggle a bit to keep up with the remaining three ones. It took time until the last lap unfolded that van Aert managed to attack. First Nys and van der Haar were seperated but Kevin Pauwels managed to keep the pace of van Aert. It took a last deep effort shortly before the end of the final lap to get rid of Kevin Pauwels and to gain the fifth victory in his fifth race. But Wout van Aert had to dig much deeper than ever before to make this happen. Lars van der Haar managed to gain the last spot on the podium in front of Sven Nys.
The fact that the gap between the winner and the fourth place was no more than11 seconds, even though Ronse is a difficult and strength-sapping race, prooves what a kind of thrilling and close race this years edition had been.