Vos extends title on home soil and the Belgian Junior Men manage a 1-2-3

Vos extends title on home soil and the Belgian Junior Men manage a 1-2-3

Marianne Vos (Netherlands) offered the home fans a one-woman show during the first day of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. It’s the sixth consecutive ‘cross title for Vos in the Women category and the seventh of her impressive career.

Marianne Vos (Netherlands) offered the home fans a one-woman show during the first day of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. It’s the sixth consecutive ‘cross title for Vos in the Women category and the seventh of her impressive career.

Marianne Vos (Netherlands) offered the home fans a one-woman show during the first day of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. It’s the sixth consecutive ‘cross title for Vos in the Women category and the seventh of her impressive career.

A few hours earlier the Belgian riders gave their numerous fans something to cheer about as they managed a 1-2-3 in the Junior Men category. Thijs Aerts (Belgium) surprised the favourites by grabbing the rainbow jersey on Saturday morning.

The much-anticipated duel between Vos and arch rival Katherine Compton (USA) didn’t happen. While Vos enjoyed a good start on the muddy course in the southwest of the Netherlands Compton was struggling at the back. She collided with Czech rider Pavla Havlikova and needed a lot of time to untangle the bikes. Compton and Havlikova only had a handful of riders behind them when they took off again.

Vos surged forward halfway the opening lap and only fast-started Eva Lechner (Italy) was able to hold her wheel. By the end of the lap Vos also left Lechner behind and she was gone for good. Compton tried to bounce back from her disastrous start and got back to tenth place after the first lap. Vos kept the speed high during the second lap and the gap on Lechner grew up to half a minute. Behind the two first riders a battle was unfolding for third place. At first European Champion Helen Wyman (Great Britain) had the best papers in hand. Her usual fast start brought her in third place but this time around she struggled to hold on to it. Belgian’s Sanne Cant bridged across but also Compton was back in contention for a medal halfway the race.

The comeback race from Compton ended there as she started struggling with the same breathing problems that forced her to abandon the final World Cup round in Nommay last week. While Compton faded back Cant and Wyman battled for the bronze medal. Vos added half a minute on Lechner during the third lap and cruised through the mud towards yet another world title. Lechner impressed as she held on for second place. Wyman exploited a last lap bobble from Cant to get on the final podium spot. A disappointed Compton rolled across the line in ninth place.

Earlier on Saturday the Junior Men battled for their rainbow jersey too. Continuous rain showers turned the course into a slippery muddy affair in which the riders struggled to stay upright. Briefly after the start was given a French rider went over the handlebars at full speed, taking a lot of riders with him.

Once the chaos was over there were ten riders leading the race, including pre-race favourites Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic) and Yannick Peeters (Belgium). Due to the efforts from home rider Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands) that group was split apart in the second lap with Toupalik being the biggest victim. The Belgian were enjoying a numerical advantage and that showed halfway the race. Three Belgian riders were able to ride away while Aerts was sitting on Nieuwenhuis’ wheel in order to get him to close the gap.

Aerts’ tactic paid off in gold. Nieuwenhuis worked hard to keep the gap under control. In front Jelle Schuermans (Belgium) crashed and he took Kobe Goossens (Belgium) with him. Peeters was the sole leader ahead of Nieuwenhuis and Aerts, seemingly heading for the win. That was until Aerts left Nieuwenhuis behind and bridged up to Peeters. On an uphill section Aerts made the difference in impressive style. He rode where all other riders were forced to run. Aerts created a gap which he managed to hold until the finish line. Peeters was second at short distance with Schuermans holding off Nieuwenhuis for third place.

On Sunday the Men Under 23 category have their World Championships race at 11am local time, with the Elite Men following at 3pm. You can follow the races on http://www.youtube.com/ucichannel

Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

00trialsElite Women: Janickova leads the way
After years of domination from Switzerland’s Karin Moor, who retired in 2011 after winning her ninth world title, it appeared the way was clear for Gemma  Abant (World Champion in 2008, 2010 and 2012) to take over the reins. But that was without counting on the presence of the young gun from Slovakia, Tatiana Janickova, already bronze medalist in 2010 at the tender age of 16, and again in 2012.

2013 that will go down in the history books as the year of Janickova’s veritable explosion onto the Elite Trials scene. Crowned World Champion in Pietermaritzburg and undefeated in the World Cup, she is opening the way for a new generation of athletes and shaping the future of Women’s Trials.

Elite Men 20”: Mustieles at last
2013 was also the year that nine-time World Champion Benito Ros Charral, unbeaten since 2007, was toppled from his throne. After his two Junior world titles in 2008 and 2009, Spain’s Abel Mustieles Garcia proved he had what it takes to break his fellow countryman’s stronghold and win the Elite Men’s 20” category. His performance was no flash in the pan: Mustieles had a perfect season, winning the World Cup as well as the rainbow jersey after an unforgettable final that took place in torrential rain. He is now World Number 1 and looks set to remain at the top of the hierarchy for a while. France’s Aurélien Fontenoy pulled off an exploit at the 2013 World Championships by sneaking in between the two Spanish athletes to take second place.

An eye should also be kept on another Spanish athlete, Bernat Seuba, who took the world title in the Juniors category in front of Austria’s Thomas Pecchacker and France’s Alex Rudeau.

Elite Men 26” : France continues to dominate
France has always dominated the 26” category (14 titles since 1994) and once again demonstrated its strength at the World Championships in South Africa. With no less than five of eight finalists, they were well placed to dominate the podium. 2012 World Champion Gilles Coustellier, who has four world titles to his name, managed only second place this year behind fellow Frenchman Vincent Hermance. It was a second world title for Hermance after 2007, who confirmed his successful season with a demonstration of all-round skills and nerves of steel. Meanwhile Belgium’s Kenny Belaey, absent throughout the season due to injury, made a remarkable comeback to take third place at the World Championships. The three athletes on the podium have 10 titles between them.

Junior Men 26”: Watch out for Carthy
Although the athletes at the head of the Elite 26” category have been prominent on the scene for several years, Junior World Champion Jack Carthy is already representing a danger to their hold on the discipline. The young British athlete has already graced the podiums of several World Cup events, and even took victory straight after the World Championships. Carthy has shaken up the world Elite hierarchy by taking third place in the UCI rankings at the tender age of 17. He will be the one to watch next year.

Méribel voted best event
It was not only the athletes who were rewarded for their skill and effort in 2013: for the first time an award went to the best event of the UCI Trials World Cup. Athletes, officials and the press took part in the vote, with first place going to Méribel (France), organizers of the fourth round of the 2013 series.

2013 certainly produced some eye-opening performances and it will be interesting to see how this develops next year:  the season will open in Cracovie (Poland) on May 30.

Successful World Cup debut for Valkenburg

Successful World Cup debut for Valkenburg

Lars VAN DER HAAR (Ned)Young Van der Haar beats the best at Cauberg
Lars van der Haar completed a long solo to grab his first big pro win in Valkenburg. During the third of nine laps Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was the only rider who matched the speed of the Dutchman. Halfway the race the duo had a sizeable gap on the first chase group but then Pauwels was set afoot when his chain dropped. From there the young leader controlled affairs and always held on to at least a twenty seconds lead. Pauwels needed some time to pick up the pace again and he dropped back in a group with Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and World Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony). German rider Phlip Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) briefly rode in second place until Pauwels got going again. Nys first lost ground due to a flat tyre before abandoning the race with a broken chain. In front Van der Haar held on to his lead, grabbing his first World Cup victory. Pauwels finished as runner-up at 20s while Walsleben held on to third place at 39s. Last year’s overall World Cup winner Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) rode below par towards an eleventh place.

Vos solo from start to finish
British rider Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) managed the hole shot in the Women category. It was the only moment in the race where World champion Vos allowed another woman to shine on home soil. A few hectometres further up the road Vos took over the command and never looked back. The first chasers were Katherine Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), Christel Ferrier-Brunea (Faren Kuota), Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) and Wyman who trailed Vos by 18s after one lap. While Vos kept extending her lead it was Compton who proved to be best of the rest. The American champion rode alone towards second place. During the penultimate lap British champion Harris made her move for the last podium spot. First Ferrier-Bruneau cracked and then also Wyman had to bow her head. At the finish line Vos had a massive lead over Compton. Just under two minutes after Vos it was Harris who managed third ahead of Wyman and Ferrier-Bruneau.

Vanthourenhout holds off Van der Poel

Seemingly unbeatable Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) missed his start in the World Cup on home soil. The Junior Men World champion on the road and cyclo-cross was a back-row starter in Valkenburg as he moved up a category this season. Shortly after the start Van der Poel crashe while in front Belgian riders Michael Vanthourenhout and Wout Van Aert sped away. Halfway the race the latter got dropped while Van der Poel worked his way into third place at 25s from leader Vanthourenhout. When hitting the final lap Van der Poel caught up with Van Aert, trailing Vanthourenhout by only 12s. By then Van der Poel ran out of gas so Vanthourenhout claimed the win in Valkenburg. Van Aert beat Van der Poel in the sprint for second place.

Dubau twins dominate Junior Men category
French rider Lucas Dubau won the Junior Men race in Valkenburg.  Dubau attacked solo in the first lap and was joined by Yannick Peeters (Belgium) during the second lap. Halfway the race Peeters attacked but didn’t hold on to his lead. Little later Dubau accelerated and suddenly Peeters crashed away. Lucas Dubau steamed on towards the win while his twin brother Joshua Dubau also profited from Peeters’ crash and made it a Dubau 1-2 in Valkenburg.
Next Saturday the cyclo-cross peloton lines up in Tabor, Czech Republic for the second round of the World Cup.

Photo: Dutch Lars Van Der Haar wins in Valkenburg