This time is the third time the cyclocross worl championships took place in Tábor in the czech republic. Beeing here in 2001 and 2010 the worlds best assembled once again in the bohemian town of great tradition in cyclocross. The sporting area is located at the outskirts of Tábor and is framed by impersonal and somehow desolate multistorey apartment houses. But the czech organisers managed to create a really well-made cyclocross party on this peripheral area. The kindness and dedication of the whole staff created a really warm and nice atmosphere for all visitors and athletes.
The undulating hills provide room for a fairly fast but still technical skilling parcours. In the beginning forecasts predicted some kind of frosty and snowy weather, but during the days of competition the weather came up fine. The only outburst of snow was a short shower during the lady´s race on saturday. Due to the nights frost, the ground was still partially icy but where the sun managed to touch the ground the ice melted an left some muddy and slippery parts. These different conditions of the track were some major challengse for all riders. For some of them the selection of the correct tires should become a crucial factor during the race.
XCO Champion emberrasses belgian specialists
Just before the worlds Eli Iserbyt, reigning belgian an european champion, was considered to be the number one contender for the rainbow jersey. Except for the world cup in namur the young rider from Harelbeke managed to win all races he participated in. But as mentioned before, the selection of material should turn out as fate for some riders. Eli Iserbyt decided to race using some all purpose tyres with a Grifo profile, but those didn’t work out well for him on this kind of track. It took almost half of the racing time until his mechanics managed to prepare a bike with Rhinos, a tyre beeing designed for muddy and slippery grounds.
In the mean time Simon Andreassen, Cross-Country world champion from Denmark managed to increase his lead from lap to lap. For all but the last lap, he managed to ride the fastest time of all contenders, and so he gained a fourty second lead ahead of his chasers at the end. Behind this lonely leader a thrilling contest for remaining medals unfolded. Ely Iserbyt who managed to consolidate his performance after a bike change fought against dutch rider Max Gulickx and the US american Gage Hecht. It was a tough fight between the three of them, and a decision was postponed untill the finish lane. Right a the end, a clearly disappointed Eli Iserbyt sprinted for silver medal just ahead of Max Gulickx.
Allons enfants de la Patrie instead of Het Wilhelmus
You have to look far back remember last time that a differnt hymn but Het Wilhelmus sounded for the honour of a cross champion in the ladies category. Living legend of cycling and most successfull female bicycle rider of all time Marianne Vos had been perpetual world champion since 2008. But as other commitments like beeing an abassador for womens cycling rise the time remaining for preparation and recovery decreases. And to make matters worse, the congenial woman from ‘s-Hertogenbosch sustained a pulled hamstring durin the race in Rucphen, Netherlands just a week ago. Obviously these were not the best conditions for gaining another title.
Out of the sudden, it seemed as if this could be the time for french riders. Lucie Chainel-Lefevre and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot started to dictate the race. But just shortly after the first attack of the french riders a bigger group formed. Sanne Cant, who had to be considered to be a serious aspirate for gold due to her successes during this season, Marianne Vos, british rider Nikki Harris acompanied by local heroess Katarina Nash managed to close in with the two french girls. While Lucie Chainel-Levefre had to pay the price for the early attack and felt back, the remaining five started the most exciting race of this championships. It took until the fifth and last lap of the race before Ferrand-Prevot and Cant manage to gain a short lead. Head to head both turned into the finishing line and started the sprint for gold. For a long time it looked as if Sanne Cant would crown her successfull season with a rainbow jersey. But with about fifty meters to go her power faded an she had to let Ferrant-Prevot go. A few seconds later Marianne Vos passed the finish line. The outriding champion embraced her teammate and friend Ferrand-Prevot for several minutes.
U23 riders saved the day for belgium
The results of the first day could harldy been worse from the belgium point of view. Runaway favourite Eli Iserbyt missed gold at the juniors race and at the ladies race Sanne Cant was beaten by a an eylash.
After Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel decided to advance to the elite, the belgian equippe had two hot favourites for the U23 category : belgian champion Laurens Sweeck and former european champion Michael Vanthourenhout. But still Stan Godrie from the Netherlands and Clement Venturini from Italy were two aspirants who had to be taken into account seriuosly.
In conjunction with dutch rider Joris Nieuwenhuis those four formed a leading group which dictacted the race right from the beginning. But just after two laps Michael Vanthourenhout attacked and tried to force a decision. He managed to create a small gap towards his chasers, but never managed to gain a determining lead. Therefore Vanthourenhout had to fight right to the end to defend his small lead untill reaching the finishing. When crosssing the finish line Michael Vanthourenhout repeated the victory of his Uncle Sven Vanthourenhout who became U23 worldchampion in fourteen years ago right at the same place here in Tábor. Laurens Sweeck
who fought hard to catch his compatriot gained silver right in front of Stan Godrie.
The title of the toughest guy of the weekend has to be given to young australian rider Jack Hogan. The U23 rider crashed into the barriers just two corners before the finish. When he looked down, he noticed a hole in his leg right above his patella. But this man from down under said to himself “I did not come this long way around the world to pull out and get a DNF” and so he pedalled single leg to the finish where his supplier had to carry him of the track as he could not walk any more.
Generationswechsel bei der Elite
So now it did happen after all. The two young guns of the U23 who hounded the elite riders during this season decided to move to the elite category and the UCI accepted the application of both of them. Many analysts estimated that both were to young to stand the mental pressure of a world championship.
At least Mathieu van der Poel was not much impressed by the hurly-burly and took the initiative right from the start just putting pressure on his opponents. Wout van Aert managed to keep up with van der Poel. Some problems with his chain during the first lap threw the belgian back to fourth place at the end of the lap. Meanwhile a group built by Tom Meeusen and Kevin Pauwels started a chase on the young dutch champion. When four laps were nearly done Lars van der Haar manged to join the two chasers. After a short rest he attacked an went on chasing his compatriot on his own. Wout van Aert who took a lot of risk when he tried to regain contact after the troubles with his chain touched ground an was temporarily thrown back to sixth place. But the young belgian rider from Lille proved his extraordenary talent and his competitive spirit. He did not surrender but tried once again to reach those riding in front of him. After riding the fastest lap for four times in a row, he managed to close up to Lars van der Haar.
Mathieu van der Poel managed to start the last lap having a comforting lead and so he could finish the race in a steady an controlled ride. Tears of joy were rolling down his face a the dutch champion drove the last few meters towards the finish in a divine triumph. The sprint for silver was won by Wout van Aert ahead of Lars van der Haar. But dispite of his second place van Aert was totally disappointed, as he felt as if he did not gain silver but lost gold. Especially when he thought how many best laps he managed to ride. But that does not help at all. It has to be noticed that Mathieu van der Poel showed an outstanding an error free race. Therefore he is the undisputed and dignified youngest world champion in cyclocross of all time.