UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Holiday action in Heusden-Zolder

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Holiday action in Heusden-Zolder

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Holiday action in Heusden-Zolder

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Heusden-Zolder

 

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Heusden-Zolder

 

The penultimate round of the 2014-2015 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup will take place on December 26th at the former F1 car racing circuit in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.

Races will be held in all four categories at the GP Eric De Vlaeminck on what is forecast to be a chilly but dry Friday. The fast course with a few bumpy and steep descents and a sometimes slippery off-camber climb usually provides for spectacular racing. Last year Lars van der Haar (Development Team Giant-Shimano) and Katherine Compton (USA) prevailed at the Belgian car track.

Elite Men: Pauwels in strong position

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team) held on to his World Cup lead in the citadel of Namur last weekend with his second victory of the season. If he can increase his lead over Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) by three more points on Friday he will have the overall World Cup win in his pocket. Pauwels will be full of confidence as he hasn’t finished outside the top-2 in a World Cup round this season and has already won twice in Zolder (in 2009 and 2011). Meeusen will probably focus on defending his second place as he hasn’t cracked a World Cup podium so far this season.

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), German Champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and last year’s winner in Zolder Lars van der Haar are all within 13 points of Meeusen. In 2013 the Dutchman won ahead of Czech riders Martin Bina and Zdenek Stybar. Bina is struggling with his form this season, and did not finish the previous World Cup round. World Champion Stybar injured himself at the cyclo-cross event in Ardooie and will skip the rest of the season. Another big name absent from the start line will be Belgian Champion Sven Nys: also struggling with his form, the 38-year-old decided to skip the World Cup rounds in Namur and Zolder.

Elite women: close battle for overall lead

Managing only sixth place in Namur, World Cup leader Sanne Cant (Belgium) now leads Compton by only one point in the overall standings. The battle between these two athletes will continue up until next month’s World Cup final in the Netherlands. The course in Zolder is well suited to road specialists and this could work in favour of World Champion Marianne Vos or UCI Road World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team). Vos has a good record in Zolder with four wins although last year she was beaten by her American rival Katherine Compton. Cant was third last year.

Third round for Men Under-23 and Juniors

In the Men Under 23 category new cyclo-cross stars Wout Van Aert (Belgium) and Mathieu van der Poel (the Netherlands) are expected to fight out yet another exciting duel in their third World Cup round. Last weekend World Champion Van Aert won ahead of Dutch Champion Van der Poel, taking over the lead in the World Cup standings. Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) and Laurens Sweeck (Belgium) are outsiders for the victory on Friday morning.

In the Junior Men category Johan Jacobs (Switzerland) was the first rider this season capable of beating World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Belgium). Mountain bike World and European champion Simon Andreassen (Denmark) was a surprising third in Namur. However a strong American delegation might shake up the race scenario in Zolder.

The entries and start lists, the results and the rankings are available on the 2014-2015 UCI Cyclo-cross section of the UCI website.

Follow the Elite racing live on the UCI YouTube channel tv.uci.ch.

Mathieu van der Poel tackles Heusden-Zolder

Mathieu van der Poel tackles Heusden-Zolder

Mathieu van der Poel tackles Heusden-Zolder

Mathieu Van Der Poel heading towards victory in Heusden-Zolder, December 2013

 

Mathieu Van Der Poel heading towards victory in Heusden-Zolder, December 2013

 

The Van der Poel family has settled down in a remote B&B on the edge of Koksijde, Belgium. Adrie – their father and 1996 World Cyclo-cross champion – puts the bikes into the van. Their mother Corinne, née Poulidor and daughter of the most famous Tour de France runner-up, busies herself in the house. David, 22, waits in the bedroom, stretched out on his bed. His brother, 19, is already on the massage table; the masseur and the mechanic are here too. This is the inner circle of the Van der Poel dynasty, ensuring the siblings’ success. Today, Friday November 21, the two brothers have finished training: five, six laps of the sandy route in the Koksijde dunes, on the North Sea coast, venue for the second leg of the 2014-15 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.

Mathieu is lying down; David is seated at the table in front of him. “We’ve always been together, it would be strange for us not to be in the same team”, explains the elder. They’ve spent years taking the same route: through youths then juniors, and for a year now the two boys have been in the Under-23s category, wearing the same BKCP-Powerplus jersey. At Hilvarenbeek in 2013, the brothers shared national glory, each in their own category – the Dutch Youth Champion title for Mathieu and the Junior Champion title for David. “It was a very special day, I was champion in the morning and David was champion in the afternoon” recalls the younger of the two, under the watchful eye of Adrie, who has finished with the van.

These siblings are feeding off cross-generational cycling exploits: Raymond Poulidor, Adrie van der Poel (six-time Dutch champion), uncles Henri Poulidor and Jac van der Poel, and now David and Mathieu. It isn’t hard, however, to see what separates the two riders. David loves travelling around Europe with cyclo-cross while his brother swears by Belgium alone. “It’s more relaxed elsewhere”, murmurs the elder, who rides in races in Switzerland or Luxembourg. “The best are in Belgium”, counters the younger, who skipped the English leg in Milton Keynes. His brother is fighting for “one World Cup leg per country” while Mathieu can only see Koksijde, Namur, Zolder… pure cyclo-cross territory.

Road cycling is more “tactical” (Mathieu van der Poel)

Adrie observes the exchange between his two offspring. Their differences are revealed on the track: “David is too nice, he thinks too much about helping,” he sighs. The elder, 6th at the 2014 World Championships in Hoogerheide (Netherlands) while his younger brother was 3rd, admits it: “When I don’t have the legs, I prefer to work for the others…”. David doesn’t flinch under the hands of his physio, he simply doesn’t like not having the legs. This season, his form is improving: 6th in Valkenburg in the Under-23s, 3rd in Koksijde in the Elite race, 2nd in Namur at Under-23. But Wout Van Aert, champion in Hoogerheide, often stands in his way, like in Wallonia, where the Belgian prodigy took victory after Mathieu had led the race before falling twice. “He has made a lot of progress in a year, more than me, so I have work to do.”

Mathieu still thinks about the date of 28 September 2013. Far from the mud of cyclo-cross, in Florence (Italy), he won the Junior Road Race at the UCI World Road World Championships – a surprise victory. In his words: “my greatest”. The guy who needs only his legs for cyclo-cross mentions road cycling and its “tactics”; the science of the peloton. Like their father, who rode several Grand Tours in the 1980s, the Van der Poel sons alternate off-road in winter with road in summer. But since he moved up to the Under-23s, with forays into Elite, Mathieu has discovered the harshness of the top level. “For the moment we’ll keep going like this, using the road to prepare for the cyclo-cross”, explains Adrie. On the F1 circuit at Heusden-Zolder, Mathieu will go for the win, determined to repeat last season’s exploits.

After the final UCI World Cup stopover in Hoogerheide (January 25), the season ends in Tábor (Czech Republic) with the UCI World Championships (January 31 – February 2). The Under-23 race takes place on February 1, around a fortnight after Mathieu celebrates his 20th birthday. He has always liked the course, in the Youth categories and in the Juniors. “It’s fast, I really like it.” There he will find Van Aert, from whom he will attempt to steal the rainbow jersey.

David takes his turn on the massage table, while Mathieu – like a pro – slips away to his room. You don’t mess around with recovery; ambition is built on a daily basis.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Pauwels and Nash reign on Namur citadel

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Pauwels and Nash reign on Namur citadel

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Pauwels and Nash reign on Namur citadel

Kevin Pauwels (BEL) wins in Namur

 

Kevin Pauwels (BEL) wins in Namur

 

The impressive Namur citadel in Belgium was the fantastic location for a Sunday packed with splendid UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup racing action.

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) almost has the overall victory in the pocket after taking a great second win in the World Cup. Czech champion Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) beat a star-studded line-up in the Women’s category during her World Cup debut. Wout Van Aert (Belgium) won a high-quality race in the Men Under 23 category. Johan Jacobs (Switzerland) surprisingly won the Juniors Men race in the first race of the day on a grey Sunday morning in Namur.

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Elite Men’s race

The win from Pauwels in the Elite Men category was no surprise. Pauwels is enjoying great form and the Belgian rider has been dominating the World Cup so far.

The Namur winner of 2012 took his time to move forward, allowing Swiss rider Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team) to set the pace. Only in the fourth of nine laps Pauwels reacted on the earlier attack from Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) together with Dutch champion Lars van der Haar (Giant-Development Team) and Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea). When Van der Haar attacked in the sixth lap everybody was in the hurt box. Meeusen faded, Van Kessel crashed hard and Pauwels needed time to work his way back to the Dutchman. With two laps to go the two were back together and from there Pauwels took charge, knowing that Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) was coming closer too. In the final lap he rode well through a difficult off-camber section while Van der Haar struggled. Pauwels powered to the win while Van der Haar had to work hard to hold off Walsleben. Meeusen his fourth place was enough to put him in second place in the World Cup at a huge 77 points from Pauwels. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was ill and didn’t race in Namur. He tumbles from second to sixth place overall.

Women’s race

Several strong riders made their debut in the World Cup in the Women’s category on Sunday afternoon. Among them was UCI World Champion Marianne Vos who wasted no time and quickly accelerated away. Also Nash made her debut and she needed more time to get her engine going, trailing Vos by 13 seconds after the opening lap, with the rest of the field already out of sight. Halfway the second lap Nash slipped away in a left hand corner and landed into the netting, trailing Vos by 22 seconds. From there the Czech champion started to crawl her way back to the leader who lost momentum. In the third of five laps Nash bridged across to Vos and took the lead. In a muddy section Nash powered away while Vos suffered and rode into the netting, losing even more time. Nash showed no signs of fatigue and rode towards the third World Cup victory of her career, after winning in Roubaix and Tabor. Vos finished as runner-up in her first cyclo-cross race of the season. Compton claimed the final podium spot. Sanne Cant salvaged her World Cup lead by one point over Compton.

Under 23 Men’s race

In-form Wout Van Aert (Belgium) exploited a last lap high speed crash from then race leader Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) in the Men Under 23 category. The new cyclo-cross stars fought out a great duel in Namur, clocking faster lap times than the Elite Men. Van Aert takes over the lead in the World Cup from compatriot Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) who finished third in Namur.

Juniors Men’s race

Johan Jacobs (Switzerland) won the Juniors Men race ahead of unbeaten Eli Iserbyt (Belgium). Iserbyt remains in the overall lead of the World Cup after two rounds.

Already in a few days time, on Boxing Day, the fifth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup is held on the famous car racing circuit of Zolder in Belgium. Watch it live on tv.uci.ch, the UCI YouTube channel.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: return to breathtaking Namur

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: return to breathtaking Namur

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: return to breathtaking Namur

2013-2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Namur (BEL)

 

2013-2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Namur (BEL)

 

The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup heads to the south of Belgium on Sunday for spectacular racing up and around the towering citadel of Namur. World Cup races will be contested in all four categories.

The Namur course is characterised by the medieval fortification and its steep slopes, making it one of the toughest courses of the cyclo-cross circuit. The uphill start leads the riders up a 500-metre long cobbled road towards the top of the fortress. Just before entering the muddy sections of the course, riders have to tackle a slippery wooden bridge. Along the course there are multiple demanding climbing paths but also multiple steep descents. Add a difficult 300-metre long off-camber section and it’s clear why Namur doesn’t provide surprise winners.

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Elite Women: Vos back in competition

A high quality starting field will line up for the Women’s race, with the return of UCI Cyclo-cross World champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv Women Cycling Team). Just like last year Vos will ride her first cyclo-cross race of the season at the citadel. Back then she finished runner-up behind US Champion Katherine Compton, trailing her rival by forty seconds. Nikki Harris (Great-Britain) was third at 46s.

Vos’ teammate Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) will also start their World Cup campaign in Namur. Ferrand-Prévot is French Cyclo-cross Champion and UCI Road World Champion. She has already shown good form this season and last week won in Lanarvilly. Nash is a previous winner of a World Cup round in Roubaix and grabbed her third Czech national title in Milovice last weekend.

The trio will have to deal with in-form European and Belgian Champion Sanne Cant. The 24 year-old tops the World Cup standings after winning the two previous World Cup rounds in Koksijde and Milton Keynes. Halfway through the World Cup Cant holds a 16-point lead over Katherine Compton and is 38 points ahead of Nikki Harris.

Elite Men: Pauwels looking to confirm World Cup lead

Also the race in the Elite Men category is expected to be spectacular. Every year Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) shows off his strong skills in Namur and last year he managed to win an extremely muddy edition. The French Champion dealt masterfully with the mud, climbed well and successfully withstood the return to the front from all other favourites to win solo ahead of Klaas Vantornout, Niels Albert and Sven Nys.

In the World Cup standings Kevin Pauwels is enjoying a comfortable lead of 35 points over his teammate Klaas Vantornout. Dutch rider Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) shares third place with his teammate Tom Meeusen, both 57 points behind Pauwels. The latter finds a course in Namur that suits him very well. In 2012 he won the race after riding away from Mourey and completing a long solo ride.

Although Wout Van Aert (Belgium) and Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) are nowadays winning races in the Elite Men category, the duo opts to race the remaining rounds of the World Cup in their Men Under 23 category. It’s only the second round of the World Cup in this category with Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) winning the opening round in Valkenburg. Van Aert was runner-up in the Netherlands ahead of Fabien Doubey (France) while Van der Poel placed fifth. Last year Van Aert won the Men Under-23 race, finishing solo by more than a minute ahead of Mathieu van der Poel.

In the Junior Men category Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) convincingly won the opening round in Valkenburg and leads the World Cup standings ahead of Max Gulickx (the Netherlands) and Johan Jacobs (Switzerland).

The entries and start lists, the results and the rankings are available on the 2014-2015 UCI Cyclo-cross section of the UCI website.

Follow the Elite racing live on the UCI YouTube channel tv.uci.ch.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Belgians dominate Belgian World Cup second round

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Belgians dominate Belgian World Cup second round

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Belgians dominate Belgian World Cup second round

Mathieu Van Der Poel of the Netherlands couldn
Mathieu Van Der Poel of the Netherlands couldn’t get the better of Wout van Aert of Belgium

In absence of Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano Development Team) the World Cup leader’s jersey in the Elite Men category was up for grabs in Koksijde. The Dutchman was feverish and did not start in Koksijde. Since there were no races for the youth categories in Koksijde most of these talented young riders decided to have a go amongst the big boys. Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), two exponents of this generation accelerated away from a large group in one of the long sand sections during the third of nine sandy laps through the Koksijde dunes. In no time the duo collected a large lead as the older generation failed to come up with an answer.

Before halfway the race Van Aert increased the pace even more and started putting Van der Poel into trouble. In the fourth lap Van Aert took off for a long solo ride. Meanwhile Belgian champion Sven Nys had an off-day and never reached the front of the race. The other riders seemed to keep each other in check and afterwards Kevin Pauwels explained he was unaware that there were two leaders. By the time Van Aert had almost 45s Pauwels powered away from the chase group. He rode a blistering fast lap but didn’t get much closer on flawless leader Van Aert. Van der Poel was caught and left behind by Pauwels but managed to hold off the other chasers. Van Aert cruised on towards a massive victory on home soil.

The 20 year-old celebrated the win with a tribute to Paul Herygers and Niels Albert who both won the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde back in 1994 and 2012, hopping off his bike shortly before the finish line. Pauwels and Van der Poel joined Van Aert on the podium. Thanks to his second place Pauwels becomes the new leader in the World Cup standings. He holds a lead of 25 points over Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team) who finished respectively fourth and fifth in Koksijde.

The win from Cant in the Women category came after a race long battle with Sabrina Stultiens (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) and especially Sophie de Boer. Both De Boer and Cant had a great start and gapped the main field early on. Only Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (France) briefly managed to keep up with the duo but quickly rode on at her own pace. In the background Stultiens needed more time to reach the front. For two laps she had the leaders in sight without failing to bridge up with them. Cant made some minor mistakes in the sand and little later finally managed to close the gap.

It was clear the trio in front would fight for the victory as Chainel-Lefevre was trailing by more than half a minute. De Boer led most of the final lap with Stultiens and Cant following her moves. Just before hitting the final dunes Cant caught both Stultiens and De Boer by surprise. She was slaloming to the front and behind her De Boer struggled with her gears. When hitting the final corners Cant found herself with a good gap and she had time to celebrate her first ever World Cup victory. Stultiens won the sprint for second place before De Boer. The latter becomes the new leader in the World Cup since previous leader Katherine Compton (USA) had an off-day and finished tenth in Koksijde.

Pauwels and De Boer will defend their lead next weekend at the next round of the World Cup in Milton Keynes, UK.

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup enters the sand dunes

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup enters the sand dunes

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup enters the sand dunes

2013-2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup - Koksijde (BEL)
2013-2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup – Koksijde (BEL)

Riders from 19 nations are expected to tackle the dunes between the North Sea and the military airbase of Koksijde this Saturday during the second round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.

The challenging sand course features two dunes which are named after the winners of the 1994 and 2012 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde, namely Paul Herygers and Niels Albert. For Albert there will be mixed feelings when he returns to the coastal town: the sand specialist won three times in Koksijde, in 2010, 2012 and 2013 before being forced to retire from the sport in May this year due to heart problems. The 28 year-old Belgian is currently coaching riders from the Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Continental Team and will be passing on his sand racing experience to Wout Van Aert, Rob Peeters and Jens Adams who’re lining up for Albert’s team in Koksijde.

Elite Men: Nys heads Belgian selection

The three riders are part of a large Belgian selection, headed by Sven Nys. Fifteen years ago the Belgian Champion won for the first time and five more victories followed, making him the rider with the most wins in Koksijde. This year Nys is struggling to make his mark, and abandoned the first round of the World Cup. It remains to be seen if he can pull himself back into contention in the dunes.

French Champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) also had a difficult ride in Valkenburg, only managing a distant 16th place. Nevertheless the French rider can be expected to perform well in Koksijde, after finishing third behind Nys and Albert in 2012 and second behind Albert last year. Last weekend Mourey was surprisingly beaten in the second round of the Coupe de France in Besançon. A late mechanical while in the lead forced him to run the final metres to the finish line where he was beaten on the line by compatriot Clément Venturini (Cofidis). A win from Mourey would add an eighth name to the extraordinary long list of winners in the eight major cyclo-cross races so far this season.

Dutchman Lars van der Haar (Development Team Giant-Shimano), winner in Valkenburg, is ill and will not be on the startline in Koksijde. But we can count on the presence of six winners of a big race this season, who are all capable of a good ride on Saturday although not all sand lovers. They are Van Aert, Nys, Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team). From that list it’ll be interesting to see how young Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel will perform amongst the Elite Men. Two years ago he was still racing in the Junior Men category but clocking faster lap times than the Elite Men. Ever since 2011 the now 19 year-old has been unbeaten in Koksijde.

Elite Women: Compton versus Cant

An exciting battle is expected in the Women’s category between sand specialists Sanne Cant (Belgium) and Katherine Compton (USA). However, 35-year-old Compton, freshly-crowned Pan-Am Continental Champion and winner four times in Koksijde, is the pre-race favourite.  With World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) absent there’s no other rider at the start with Koksijde winning experience. Cant is European Champion and will line up in Koksijde after being unbeaten in her last five races, with nine wins in total this season. Despite her below par performance in Valkenburg (7th) the 24 year-old should have a good ride on home soil.

British riders Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) and Nikki Harris (GBR) are podium candidates. Dutch rider Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team) will aim to get back on the podium as she did in Valkenburg. Former overall World Cup winner Sanne van Paassen (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) is slowly working to get back to the highest level after being out of competition for a year.

Racing in the Women’s category starts on Saturday at 13h30 and the Elite Men set off at 15h00. Follow the action live on www.youtube.com/ucichannel.