Posted by Editoress on 09/22/16
Wout van Aert makes it two while Sophie de Boer makes up for last year
Spectators at the 2016 Clif Bar Cross Vegas UCI Cyclocross World Cup season opener, September 22, were treated to the most exciting bicycle race action yet seen at the Desert Breeze sports complex, on an uncharacteristically cool and humid evening that threatened thunderstorms throughout.
The weather may have remained calm, but in both the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s Telenet World Cup races, on a shorter, tougher 2.8km course, electrifying battles enthralled the spectators.
Wout van Aert, the reigning UCI world cup and world champion, was heavily favored going into this race, coming off two consecutive victories at high profile events. He convincingly won the Clif Bar Cross Vegas last year, yet a repeat suddenly looked uncertain when he took a tumble on a stepped run-up early in the race. Michael Vanthourenhout decided to make the most of the opportunity and rode away from the field in a solo move that at one point had him around 20 seconds ahead of van Aert.
“I was not as concentrated as I should have been. It was a stupid crash,” said van Aert, who at the post-race press conference was still suffering pain from that fall. On remounting, his focus turned immediately to regaining control of the race and trackside spectators reported expressions ranging from indignation to anger animating his face.
Riding as van Aert put it “on adrenalin,” it was impressive how well he impersonated a maglev train, skimming over the Las Vegas grass as he cut through the deeply talented field with an ease that cannot have brought much joy to those that would seek to match him.
Van Aert soon made it to the head of the chase group and quickly rode clear, still on a mission to rein in the plucky Vanthourenhout. Laurens Sweeck was the only one capable of going with him at this point, and shared some of the work with the world champion.
“When Wout made it up to the front, I realized I had to go with him,” explained Sweeck, who was not willing to squander the opportunity.
Yet once van Aert came up within a few seconds of Vanthourenhout he eased the pace, apparently allowing the hard-charging chasers back into the race. Vanthourenhout was soon absorbed with van Aert briefly going to the front as if to let his compatriot know the game was up, and with names like Toon Aerts, Quinten Hermans, Rob Peeters, Dan Hoeyberghs and Tom Meeusen among a group of 14, the front of the race had a distinctly Belgian feel about it.
Sweeck was doing a lot of the work, but with less than three laps to go van Aert went to the front and attacked on the punishingly steep Hyper Threads staircase, taking only Vanthourenhout and Sweeck with him: apparently the three strongest riders on the night.
Van Aert didn’t stop attacking there. Sprinting into the Diamond Legal Group sandpit, which sloped uphill and awkwardly off-camber, the champion forced open a gap that grew massively when Vanthourenhout made an error, losing both his line and his balance.
From then on the gap opened at a surprisingly fast rate, and van Aert’s closest rivals must be wondering what it’s going to take to beat him this year.
The sandpit saw more attacking action a lap later, where Vanthourenhout opened a small gap over Sweeck and held it to the line.
“I looked back and Laurens was 20 meters behind me, so I just gave it everything, I was confident I could keep that gap,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, the women had brought the vocal crowd to fever pitch with a race of sustained uncertainty, ignited by the first lap attack of Luna Pro rider Catherine Pendrel, which went all the way to a thrilling three-rider sprint.
Pendrel went out so hard and fast that only three riders were in the chase group: two-time world cup winner Katie Compton (Trek), Pendrel’s team-mate Katerina Nash, and Dutch rider Sophie de Boer.
With Compton doing much of the work to slowly reel in Pendrel, and Nash not taking any turns on the front, it might have appeared that Pendrel was working for her team-mate, but Nash later refuted this saying “There’s never a plan! I knew Catharine was strong and she has great endurance. I thought she could do anything, so I just waited in the first few laps to see what happened.”
Compton was confident of catching Pendrel. “I wasn’t worried when Catharine Pendrel was leading. It was too early. When the lead approached 20-25 seconds I decided to shut it down,” she said, and that’s what she did.
After the catch, Pendrel didn’t stay long with the trio that had been chasing her, but these three riders were hard to separate.
On the last lap it seemed that de Boer had come unstuck, when she struggled on the steep Hyper Threads climb, letting a small gap open to her companions. “I thought it was all over when they gapped me, but then I saw them looking at each other and I knew I was faster than them through the sand. I knew I could close the gap.”
De Boer’s reunion with her race-long companions couldn’t be called friendly. She attacked both of them in a determined effort to be first on the tough Focus stairs leading up to the finish straight.
Event organizer Brook Watts had placed these stairs deliberately in an effort to break up any parties that arrived intact for the sprint to the line.
“I thought it was good to be first into the final step. But Sophie punched it by me and got there first. We all had the same idea, I guess,” said Nash after the finish.
For de Boer, those stairs were key. “I know I have an OK sprint, so I thought if I can reach the top of the stairs first, then I had a good chance,” she said. In the charge down the finish straight she never looked like being passed.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this race. Last year when I raced here I had OK form, but at the end of the first lap I was dead, I finished I don’t know how far back. So it was hard to have expectations coming here. It is very special to win, and it makes it well worth the trip here,” said de Boer.
It’s hard to imagine that anybody who attended the event disagreed it was well worth the trip. When you see race action like tonight’s, it’s immediately clear why cyclocross is such a popular sport.
Wout van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice, 1st Elite Men
“This year the course is completely different, there is a lot more climbing, it’s a more difficult track. I like this course.
“I was not as concentrated as I should have been. It was a stupid crash. I took time to recover and could make up
“With three wins from three races I feel confident about this year, but it’s a long season and a lot of things can happen.
“I like the night time racing. With the daytime heat here, it’s a lot better to race at night. The temperature was good for racing.
Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games, 2nd Elite Men
“I had not planned to attack, but Wout made a mistake and I decided to go. When it came back together the race became a lot more tactical.
“I made a mistake in the sandpit at the same time that Wout attacked.
“I felt good tonight and I got more confident toward the end of the race. Then on the final lap, I looked back and Laurens was 20 meters behind me, so I just gave it everything, I was confident I could keep that gap.”
Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate, 3rd Elite Men
“Yes, there were a lot of gaps, but nobody wanted to do the work. After a while I realized I had to take it a bit easy, it’s hard racing on this grass.
“When Wout made it up to the front I had to go with him.
“Third place, I feel good about this result. I rode well tonight.
Sophie de Boer (Ned) 1st place Elite Women
“It is quite different racing here than the European courses. Here you need to keep a steady pace, you don’t seem to be getting tired but then it hits you unexpectedly. That’s what happened to me on the final lap going up the steep climb, my legs felt empty and they opened a gap.
“I thought it was all over when they gapped me, but then I saw them looking at each other and I knew I was faster than them through the sand. I got closer and saw them looking at each other again and knew I could close the gap.
“When I caught them I went really hard because I wanted to be first to the top of the final stairs, and then it was just sprinting.
About the World Cup
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this race. Last year when I raced here I had OK form, but at the end of the first lap I was dead, I finished I don’t know how far back. So it was hard to have expectations coming here.
“It is very special to win this race, and it makes it well worth the trip here. It is a long season with lots of hard racing, and it is important to stay healthy, which is something you think about when deciding to travel here. But it was very well worth it to come here.”
Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team, 2nd Elite Women
“There’s never a plan! I knew Catharine was strong and she has great endurance. I thought she could do anything, so I just waited in the first few laps to see what happened.
“It was such a strong field here. I just tried to stay steady and strong. On the last lap I thought it was good to be first into the final step. But Sophie punched it by me and got there first. We all had the same idea, I guess. It was an exciting race!
Katie Compton (USA) Trek, 3rd Elite Women
“The course this year was really tough, there’s no place to recover. The difficulty factor resulted in groups of 3-4.”
“II wasn’t worried when Catharine Pendrel was leading. It was too early. When the lead approached 20-25 seconds I decided to shut it down.”
“I thought Katarina had the best sprint. Coming to the final turn, I decided to hold. The finishing straight wasn’t quite long enough. I made the wrong decision.”
Results from Cyclocross World Cup #1, Cross Vegas, held in Los Vegas, Nevada last night (September 20th)
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|Pro Women, 6 Laps (16.893 km)|
|1 Sophie de Boer (Ned)||0:47:11|
|2 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team|
|3 Katherine Compton (USA) Trek Factory Racing||both s.t.|
|4 Amanda Miller (USA) Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling||0:19|
|5 Caroline Mani (Fra)||0:26|
|6 Rebecca Fahringer (USA)||0:39|
|7 Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team||1:07|
|8 Ellen Noble (USA) Aspire Racing||1:22|
|9 Sanne Cant (Bel)||1:30|
|10 Courtenay Mcfadden (USA)|
|11 Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)||both s.t.|
|12 Loes Sels (Bel)||1:50|
|13 Sunny Gilbert (USA)||1:55|
|14 Mical Dyck (Can)||2:02|
|15 Emma White (USA) Rally Cycling||2:06|
|16 Eva Lechner (Ita) Luna Pro Team||2:10|
|17 Ellen Van Loy (Bel)||2:20|
|18 Elle Anderson (USA) Rally Cycling||2:29|
|19 Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale Cyclocrossworld||2:57|
|20 Jessica Cutler (USA) Colavita/Bianchi||3:09|
|21 Amanda Nauman (USA)||3:30|
|22 Kathryn Cumming (USA)||3:35|
|23 Sandra Walter (Can)||3:43|
|24 Sofia Gomez Villafane (Arg)||4:19|
|25 Arley Kemmerer (USA)||s.t.|
|26 Cindy Montambault (Can)||4:41|
|27 Crystal Anthony (USA)||5:07|
|28 Cassandra Maximenko (USA)||5:13|
|29 Jena Greaser (USA)||5:58|
|30 Sidney McGill (Can)||6:04|
|31 Caitlyn Vestal (USA)||6:13|
|32 Ashley Barson (Can) Focus CX Team Canada||6:30|
|33 Siobhan Kelly (Can)||8:02|
|34 Maria Larkin (Irl)||-1 Lap|
|DNF Lucie Chainel (Fra)|
|DNF Emily Kachorek (USA)|
|DNF Maghalie Rochette (Can) Luna Pro Team|
|Pro Men, 10 Laps (28.093 km)|
|1 Wout van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Continental Team||1:06:53|
|2 Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||at 0:23|
|3 Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus||0:26|
|4 Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:32|
|5 Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Continental Team||0:39|
|6 Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:45|
|7 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:50|
|8 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank - Corendon||0:59|
|9 Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Continental Team||1:01|
|10 Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||1:07|
|11 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||1:27|
|12 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games Cycling Team||1:48|
|13 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||1:51|
|14 Julien Taramarcaz (Sui) Era Real Estate - Circus||1:56|
|15 Matthieu Boulo (Fra)||2:00|
|16 Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||2:17|
|17 Michael van den Ham (Can) Garneau-Easton Cycling||2:20|
|18 Jeremy Powers (USA)||2:51|
|19 Steve Chainel (Fra)||2:58|
|20 Marcel Wildhaber (Sui)|
|21 Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||both s.t.|
|22 Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3ROX Racing||3:02|
|23 Jeremy Martin (Can) Focus CX Team Canada||3:04|
|24 Ian Field (GBr)||3:08|
|24 Simon Zahner (Sui)||3:08|
|26 Travis Livermon (USA) Astellas Cycling Team||3:42|
|27 Tobin Ortenblad (USA)||3:51|
|28 Jeremy Durrin (USA)||3:58|
|29 James Driscoll (USA)||3:58|
|30 Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank - Corendon||4:06|
|31 Stephen Hyde (USA)||4:49|
|32 Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus||4:52|
|33 Daniel Summerhill (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team||4:53|
|34 Craig Richey (Can) Garneau-Easton Cycling||4:54|
|35 Hector Riveros (Col)||5:02|
|36 Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar Cycling||5:18|
|37 Jonathan Page (USA)||5:18|
|38 Anthony Clark (USA)||5:31|
|39 Justin Lindine (USA)||5:48|
|40 Mark McConnell (Can) Hot Sauce||6:07|
|41 Allen Krughoff (USA)||-1 Lap|
|42 Kerry Werner (USA) Rally Cycling||-1 Lap|
|43 Dan Timmerman (USA)||-1 Lap|
|44 Benjamin Sonntag (Ger)||-2 Laps|
|45 Jens Vandekinderen (Bel)||-2 Laps|
|46 Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3ROX Racing||-2 Laps|
|47 Aaron Schooler (Can) Focus CX Team Canada||-2 Laps|
|48 David Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank - Corendon||-2 Laps|
|49 Curtis White (USA)||-2 Laps|
|50 Yoann Corbihan (Fra)||-3 Laps|
|51 Scott Smith (USA)||-3 Laps|
|52 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank - Corendon||-3 Laps|
|53 Christian Helmig (Lux)||-4 Laps|
|54 Louis Wolf (Ger)||-5 Laps|
|55 Jose Alfredo Pacheco Roses (Mex)||-5 Laps|
|56 Christhian Ravelo-Avila (Col)|
|57 Volodymyr Starychenko (Ukr)|
|58 Jarno Trey (Est)|
|DNF Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
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