The international cyclocross in Gieten, which took place for the 41st time this year, is the opener for the Hans-Grohe Superprestige series for a couple of years.
For this edition the well known track at the banks of a small lake had been redesigned. The track became shorter and more compact, to increase the attractivity for the audience. Now the contenders can be easily watched a couple of times during one lap. Additionaly they had pass the sandy beach of that lake twice. And last but not least there was a brand new finishing straight which had been build by the main sponsor of the race, Marlux. All those changes brought the spectators closer to the action, throughout most parts of the track.
Clash of the champions
Just like last year, former world champion Mathieu van der Poel had to postpone his entry into cyclocross season by some weeks due to a surgery of his knee. But unlike last year, where he had to stay out of competition for more than six long weeks, van der Poel managed to start at the very first race on dutch ground. And so the scene was set for the first of hopefully many thrilling duells between the two new cyclocross superstars. Mathieu van der Poel and the reigning world champion Wout van Aert battled right from the start until the end of the race.
It seamed to be all over for van der Poel, when he crashed at the hurdles, but the dutch champion managed to close in on his opponent. Still both raced with changing leads, but none managed to gain a distinct advantage. It took until the final lap, when Wout van Aert was thrown back with some chain problems. Now van der Poel managed to gain a sufficient gap and crossed the finish line with an outburst of releif, cheered up frenetically by his exultant compatriots.
Right behind Wout van Aert, who was obviously disappointed by his technical problems, another young gun Laurens Sweeck managed to finish in third place. Sweeck, who won the race in Neerpelt the day before was happy to gain another podium again.
Cant in relief
European championess Sanne Cant, who was the dominating rider last year seemed to be a bit rattled. She had to be content with some unfamiliar results during the first two editions of the cyclocross worldcup in the United States. She admitted that this left some scratches in her self-confidence, but those results were much more due to higher temperatures in the US than missing form.
Beeing windy and much cooler in Gieten, Cant managed to perform in her usual way. Right during the first lap the european champion moved to the head of the race and gained a start to finish victory which was never endangered. The releif performing the normal way, could be seen when Cant raised her arms in the air, celebrating the first victory in a major race this year. A big surprise was dutch rider Lucinda Brand. Beeing more a road cyclist than a crosser, Brnad showed an impressive performance by compensating missing technical skills by pure condition. The former national road champoin managed to finish in second place, just a couple of seconds behind Cant.
Sophie de Boer, who won the first edition of the cyclocross world cup in Las Vegas had to pay tribute to her victory in Neerpelt the day before and the effect of the jet-lag. Nevertheless the dutch rider managed to gain the third spot on the podium.
Nieuwenhuis upstaged Belgians
There is allways a kind of rivalry between belgians und dutch when it comed to cyclocross. But in front of home crows the dutch riders are even more motivated. And so it was Joris Neiuwenhuis who affronted the belgian armada around european champion Quinten Hermans and world champion Eli Iserbyt in the category of U23 riders.
It was a fast race, but the rider from Zelhem in Gelderland managed to stay ahead of european champion Quinten Hermans. Yannick Peeters ended up in third place, while world champion Eli Iserbyt had face a dnf after crashing.