Cyclocross World Cup 2021-2022 [may contain spoilers]

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Asa Post

Asa Post

Iconic legend
Location
Sheffield
Round 11 at Namur. The course was damp, muddy and very slippery.
Some good British results in the earlier races, Zoe Bäckstedt won the junior women's event by more than a minute, Max Greensill finished 5th in the junior men's, and Cam Mason was 5th in the u23.
No Marianne Vos today, and the podium was settled in the first few minutes as Lucinda Brand, Denise Betsema and Puck Pieterse built a lead. Soon, there were gaps between them as well, with Brand riding superbly at the front and Betsema also pulling away. There was a group battling for fourth, and Fem van Empel got a small lead, but lost it as she fell on the off-camber section. As the race went on, Betsema seemed to be closing on Brand, but not quickly enough to be a threat unless Brand had a major problem. No problem happened, and Brand won comfortably with Betsema second and Pieterse third. Fourth place came down to a sprint between van Empel and Ceylin Alvarado, which van Empel won.
British results: Anna Kay 20th, Amira Mellor 35th, Xan Crees 45th (lapped).

No van Aert today, which must have encouraged the other riders. A large group stayed together, with Quinten Hermans and Toon Aerts at the front. Aerts got a gap as Tom Pidcock moved up to third after starting on the third row. By mid-race, Pidcock had taken second place and was catching Aerts with Michael Vanthourenhout third. Hermans broke a shoe and dropped back. As Pidcock caught Aerts, Aerts had a puncture and was forced to slow. Vanthourenhout moved into second place. Aerts managed to ride round to the pits and changed bikes, and was still in third. Pidcock fell on the off-camber, and Vanthourenhout took the lead. With two laps left, the gap was only a couple of seconds, but Pidcock fell again and the lead increased. On the final lap, Pidcock seemed to realise that he couldn't win, and settled for a comfortable second as Vanthourenhout deservedly won. He was the only one of the leading riders not to have any serious problems. Aerts was third.
British results: Pidcock 2nd, Thomas Mein 15th, Ben Turner 19th.
 
Hermans broke a shoe and dropped back
I'd just like to point out that I broke a shoe in practice 2 races ago. We lashed it up with (mainly) duct tape, and I heroically finished my race.

It's tough at the top.
 
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Asa Post

Asa Post

Iconic legend
Location
Sheffield
Round 12 in Dendermonde. Very muddy, but most of the course was rideable. It might have been a good thing that there were no spectators, because many of the places where they would have been standing were waterlogged.
Another fabulous day for British riders in the earlier races. Zoe Bäckstedt won the junior women's by almost two minutes, Nathan Smith was second in the junior men's with Ben Askey sixth, and Cam Mason won the men's u23.
During lap 1 (of 5) in the women's race Denise Betsema, Manon Bakker, Ceylin Alvarado, Shirin van Anrooij and Marianne Vos had a small lead, but Puck Pieterse and Lucinda Brand caught them and Blanka Vas and Sanne Cant were also closing. On lap 3 Brand started to pull away and nobody looked like following her. Meanwhile, Clara Honsinger was moving through the field after her usual slow start. Pieterse and Betsema were now in 2nd/3rd, with Vas close behind them. Pieterse fell climbing the steps and Betsema was alone in 2nd. By lap 4, Honsinger was in fifth place and still making progress. She moved into third and started closing on Betsema. While Brand increased her lead, Honsinger took second place. Betsema fell on a slippery descent and Pieterse passed her for third, but Betsema was soon up and repassed her on the final lap. Pieterse was now slowing, and van Anrooij caught her and went into fourth. That seemed to settle things, but on the finishing straight Vos came from nowhere with a powerful sprint that took her past Pieterse and van Anrooij to finish 4th. Podium: Brand, Honsinger, Betsema.
British results: Amira Mellor 37th, Xan Crees 52nd.

The men's race had Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert racing together for the first time this season, but on lap 1 (of 8) it was Toon Aerts who got a small gap. Van der Poel had started on row 3, but moved up to second place and then caught the leader. A big group close behind included van Aert and Tom Pidcock. Aerts, van der Poel and van Aert gradually pulled away, with Quinten Hermans, Michael Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt fighting for fourth place. On lap 3, van Aert built a lead, but van der Poel fought back and by lap 4 they were together at the front with Aerts dropping back. Lap 5 saw van Aert finally get a significant lead, which had increased to 11 seconds by the end of the lap, and 24 seconds at the end of lap 6. The race was effectively over, and van Aert maintained his lead for the final laps with van der Poel settling for second and Aerts third. Pidcock who had always been in the top ten, passed a slowing Iserbyt in the final stages to finish eighth.
British results: Pidock 8th, Ben Turner 15th, Thomas Mein 26th.
 
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Asa Post

Asa Post

Iconic legend
Location
Sheffield
Round 13 in Hulst. A dry day with some sunshine. No mud, but the course was slippery in places with some very steep ascents.
Marianne Vos started fast and led for the first few minutes, but two mistakes saw her fall back and Puck Pieterse built a 6 second lead, with a group of seven chasing her. On the second lap, that group began to split and Blanka Vas, Shirin van Anrooij and Fem van Empel pulled away. The gap was a small one, with plenty of riders still in touch. A slip by van Anrooij gave Vas the chance to establish herself in second. Pieterse was now 14 seconds clear and riding well. The third lap saw Vas caught by van Empel, Lucinda Brand and Annemarie Worst, but Pieterse maintained her lead. Brand was not looking as dominant as usual, but fought her way into 2nd with Vas challenging her. Pieterse's lead was down to 8 seconds. Lap 5 saw Denise Betsema appearing for the first time after a poor start, but she was still a long way behind the leader. Brand was now closing quickly on Pieterse, but she stalled on a steep run-up, and Pieterse still had a 4 second lead. As Pieterse tired she was caught by Brand, Worst, Vas and van Empel. Brand took the lead and soon gapped the others. She was 4 seconds clear with one lap to go, Pieterse was still in second and had 5 seconds over the group fighting for third. The race was effectively over as Brand increased her lead. Worst was closing on Pieterse and looked capable of passing her, but the need to put her foot down at the top of a climb cost her time and Pieterse held on. Brand first, Pieterse second. Worst third.
British results: Anna Kay 13th, Zoe Bäckstedt 27th, Harriet Harnden 28th, Ella MacLean-Howell 41st, Emily Carrick-Anderson had entered, but did not start.

The men's race started in dramatic fashion, as Wout van Aert lost his chain in the first few minutes. It jammed, and took ages to free, and when he got going again he was much nearer the back of the field than the front , where Lars van der Haar and Eli Iserbyt led a long line of riders. At the end of lap one, van Aert was 29th and 44 seconds back. By the third lap, Tom Pidcock had moved into 3rd, and he took the lead on one of the steep runs with Iserbyt and van der Haar close behind. As the lap progressed, van der Haar lost touch with the first two. Van Aert was up to 17th but still 44 seconds back. Pidcock now began to attack in earnest, though Iserbyt was fighting hard. The gap was 3 seconds, with van der Haar another 10 seconds behind. Van Aert was making steady progress through the field, but was losing time as he was held up by other riders. By the 6th lap (of 9) the podium was settled unless someone had a major problem. Pidcock led by 6 seconds from Iserbyt. Van der Haar was at 28 seconds and van Aert, although up to 7th place, was at 1:06. The race was now a procession, with the main interest being how far up could van Aert finish. He eventually took 4th place, 1:09 behind Pidcock who won by 12 seconds from Iserbyt with van der Haar 3rd at 33 seconds.
British results: Pidcock 1st, Cam Mason 15th, Ben Turner 18th, Thomas Mein 32nd, Rory McGuire 38th (lapped). Corran Carrick-Anderson entered but did not start.
 
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Asa Post

Asa Post

Iconic legend
Location
Sheffield
Round 14 in Flamanville. Sunny, damp underfoot but little mud.
Lots of big names not riding the women's race today, preferring to concentrate on building up for the World's in two weeks time.
Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse took a small lead, but Blanka Vas, Silvia Persico and Inge van der Heiden caught up. On lap 2 (of 6), Pieterse and van Empel again got away, with Vas also distancing the others but well off the lead. The first two increased their lead, with van Empel holding Pieterse but not closing on her. By lap 4 they were together, and it was nip and tuck all the way from now on. Pieterse slipped climbing the steps, but soon caught up again. Van Empel was looking more controlled, but couldn't get rid of her rival. On the last lap Pieterse attacked, but was quickly caught and passed. Pieterse made one last all-out attack, but van Empel sat on the wheel and kicked again to pass in the last few yards and win. Vas was well behind, but well ahead of everyone else in third.
No Brits today.

No Wout van Aert or Tom Pidcock in the men's race. The first lap didn't spread the field out to any great extent, and it wasn't until lap 3 (of 8) that Eli Iserbyt began to pull ahead, with Toon Aerts and Michael Vanthourenhout following. Effectively, the race was over, as on the remaining laps Iserbyt consistently increased his lead. Aerts and Vanthourenhout rode together until lap 7, when Aerts took a few seconds which he slowly built on to finish second. Probably the most uninteresting race of the series so far.
No Brits in this race.
 
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Asa Post

Asa Post

Iconic legend
Location
Sheffield
15th and final round in Hoogerheide. Dry and reasonably mild, with a little mud in places.
The women's race saw a big group stay together, and at the end of lap 2 (of 7) there were still ten riders at the front, with Blanka Vas, Silvia Persico and Marianne Vos in the first three places. During lap 3, Puck Pieterse, Lucinda Brand, Vos and Fem van Empel gained a few seconds on the others, and at the end of the lap Pieterse put in a big attack, but couldn't get away. Vas managed to catch the front four, and the group stayed together through lap 5, with Brand sitting at the back for the whole lap though she didn't look to be in any trouble. On lap 6, Brand went to the front and the increased pace saw Vas lose ground. When Brand attacked for the second time only Vos could follow her, though Pieterse gradually caught them. As the final lap started it was still impossible to pick a winner. Brand lost a few yards, and took a long time to close them. As she joined the leaders, Vos made a huge attack and opened a big gap very quickly. There was no challenge from the others, and Vos won by 10 seconds, with Brand outsprinting Pieterse for second place.
British result: Anna Kay did not finish. She pulled out in the pits on lap 3, looking very upset.
Overall World Cup results:
Seniors: 1. Lucinda Brand 2. Denise Betsema 3. Marianne Vos.
U23: 1. Puck Pieterse (3rd overall) 2. Fem van Empel (4th overall) 3. Shirin van Anrooij (6th overall)

The men's race also has a large bunch at the front, before Lars van der Haar, Ryan Kamp, Quinten Hermans and Corne van Kessel got a small lead. On lap 2 (of 9) first van Kessel and then Kamp fell back and van der Haar and Hermans had an 11 second advantage, with Tom Pidcock now at the front of the chasing group. Toon Aerts, who was also in the group, crashed at the barriers and took some time to get going again. Pidcock caught the leaders, and Eli Iserbyt, van Kessel and Michael Vanthourenhout were chasing them. On lap 4 van der Haar fell on a downhill bend and brought down Hermans and van Kessel. Van Kessel's chain wrapped round the crank, and he was out of the race. The crash left Pidcock well clear, 12 seconds ahead of Vanthourenhout in second with van der Haar and Iserbyt together in third and fourth at 18 seconds. Vanthourenhout was gradually caught on the 5th lap, with Pidcock's lead at 14 seconds. On lap 6, Iserbyt lost his line on a series of bends and hit the fence, though he didn't lose much time. Pidcock's lead was now 19 seconds and it looked all over. Van der Haar began to lose ground while Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout were gaining on Pidcock, but Vanthourenhout crashed at the barriers and was passed by van der Haar. As the lap ended, Iserbyt was only 6 seconds behind. On the penultimate lap, Iserbyt took the lead, and Vanthourenhout and van der Haar also caught up. The four riders started the final lap together. Iserbyt attacked, and got 2 seconds, with Pidcock leading the chase and eventually catching up. Iserbyt kicked again and Pidcock couldn't respond. Iserbyt won, and van der Haar sprinted past Pidcock for second place.
British results: Pidcock 3rd, Ben Turner 18th, Thomas Mein 22nd, Cam Mason did not finish.
Overall World Cup results:
Seniors: 1. Eli Iserbyt 2. Michael Vanthourenhout 3. Toon Aerts
U23: 1. Mees Hendrickx 2. Pim Ronhaar 3. Emiel Verstrynge
 
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