No mud no glory, that was the main theme used to propagate this year cyclocross world championships which took place in Hoogerheide , North Brabant, Netherlands. Former world champion Adrie van der Poel, Father of the two brothers and Top U23-Cyclocross Racers David and Mathieu created a spectacular and challenging track. Both topographic properties and the design of the track lead to a diversified challenging parcours. And, as i the weather decided to prove the slogan of this worlds, it started to rain during the night and kept on until early morning of the first day of competition. Therefore another piece of challenge had been added to the track, which was ready now for this world championships and the battles to come.
Roundabout one hour before the first race, the rain stopped and a festival of sport was about to start.
The first race was the race of mens juniors, no one to defend his title since former world champion Mathieu van der Poel was racing U23 this season. The belgian phalanx starting from first starting row was impressive. Five out of eight. Joris Nieuwenhuis, Pascal Eenkhoorn (both Netherlands) and Adam Toupalik (CZE) were the only three non-belgians who made it into row one. Joris Niewenhuis managed to take the lead for the first two laps, but was thrown back in the third, while Thijs Aerts slowly moved to the front. At the end Belgium was happy to gain the complete podium, Thijs Aerts finished first having a 10 second gap towards Yannick Peeters who won silver. Joris Niewenhuis was not able to win the sprint for the bronze medal and so Jelle Schuermans finished third.
Still hungry for victory
She is a phenomenon, just 26 years of age but a palmarès beyond compare. Twelve times world champion, two gold medals, 8 national titles and uncounted victories, that is what Marianne Vos put on that list. But still she is happy with every new title as if it is the first one. Just before the championships everybody put a bet on a duell between this friendly girl from brabant and Katie Compton who won the world cup this year. But there was something else to happen. Right from the start Marianne Vos took the lead, Compton who had still problems breathing was thrown back by a crash in the beginning. She manged to get back into the chasing group formed by Helen Wyman and Sanne Cant. During the race, Compton had to pay the prize for this run-up and finished on nineth place at the end. The only rider who was able to keep up with Vos was the italian Eva Lechner, who showed some strong performance during the last few races of the world cup. But that lastet only a little longer than one road, then she dropped as well. Marianne got into a lonely race in the front. It took more than a minute after Marianne Vos passing the finish line in triumph that a absolutely happy Eva Lechner reached the finish as winner of the silver medal. There was a real thrilling fight for the last medal between belgian championess Sanne Cant and reigning british championess Helen Wymen. Both were competing at eval level, at the end Wyman managed to win the sprint for bronze and Sanne Cant was left with the unfortunate forth place.
What you lose on the swings …
Three weeks ago at the national championships sadness ruled the day as Wout van Aert had to watch his opponents fighting for the title. The top favorite had been disqualified after a false start. But what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts, the worlds should become the day of his largest victory so far. Again Wout was one of the favorits, but this time he did not stand alone. His biggest opponent for the race to the world title was the son of former world champion Adrie van der Poel and grandson of the famous french rider Raimond Poulidor. Mathieu had just entered the U23 category this season. By winning the general classement of the UCI worldcup he prooved to be a serious competitor for the world title. But on the other hand, the pressure seemed to be enormous. Not only that the championships were located in his backyard, as he lives in Hoogerheide, the constructor of the race track was his father Adrie. Therefore expectations were high, and everybody believed that there would a be a duell between him and van Aert.
Shortly after the start Wout van Aert used a muddy passage and took the lead by running while Toon Aerts and former world champion Mike Teunissen struggled driving. Van Aert immediately produced a gap between himself and the followers, which he started to increase from lap to lap. By passing the finish line for the first time he had a twenty second lead allready. Van der Poel struggled to get into the race, he finished the first lap on sixth position. If there haven’t been the spectators who pushed him forward with their cheers, Mathieu would have left the race early as he confessed later. But so, the crowed cheered him foreward, and he gained on position after the other. Entering the last lap, he managed to pass Laurens Sweeck who was running third. Michael Vanthourenhout who was running on second place since lap two could finish the race and gain the silver medal without beeing endangered. Former worldchampion Mike Teunissen had to pay the price for his attempt to follow Wout van Aert during the first lap, he struggled badly and finished the race on eleventh place.
The Clash of the titans
During the last few weeks Sven Nys appeared to be unbeatable winning in Baal and Waregem, so he was definitely on of the top candidates to gain the world title. Young Lars van der Haar winning the GC of the UCI Worldcup had to be considered as a favorite as well since this was going to be a championship in his own country. Zdenek Stybar announced his entrance into this competition only a few days earlier, and nobody knew how strong he was going to be. But there were a lot of other competitors, who hoped to gain a place on the podium as well. Phillip Walsleben who is ranked Top 10 in the GC of bpost bank troffee and superprestige and finished second overall in the UCI worldcup considered himself beeing a candidate for the podium as well. But as allways, championshipt are special and therefore it turned out to be different than the prophets predicted.
Francis Mouray, the winner of Namur took the best start an led the peloton in into the field. Sven Nys followed him taking responsibiltity for the race right from the beginning. But Stybar went off like a bullet, starting from the fourth row, he rocketed himself into the lead right at the end of the first lap. From now on, a thrilling battle between the Czech and the man from Baal was about to start. Lars van der Haar beeing known as a good starter missed this time, but he managed to get into the leading group soon. It seemed as if the pressure might have been too much, he started to struggle and after problems when changing bikes in lap six he had to drop all ambitions to compete for the title. Menwhile the two titans in front of the race fought an intense battle. Pressure leads to little faults. While the race converged to it´s end both contenders began to make small mistakes, but neither Stybar nor Nys could take an advantage out of that. So both went into the last lap side by side. Stybar tried to put Nys under pressure by using his power to gain a small gap. While trying to pursue Nys slipped in one of the muddy u-turns and fell. Now Stybar was gone and managed to win this third title beeing twelve seconds ahead of Sven Nys. Kewin Pauwels finished third.