Snowfall in Europe brought to the forefront racers possessing strong skills in the icy and wintery conditions this weekend. Snow and ice turned the twisting, hilly and often muddy course into a slippery challenge for the riders for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup final in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands on Sunday. Martin Bina (CEZ Cyklo)’s victory was well-deserved, albeit surpiring in the elite men's race while Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women Team) soloed to another win in the elite women's race.
The 29-year-old Bina clearly felt comfortable on the snow-covered course, while others were unable to use their power on the slippery course. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) made few mistakes and was confident early on, launching several attacks on Albert. However, the Belgian riders were taken by surprise in the sixth of nine laps when Bina launched his attack. The Czech rider collected a lead of about ten seconds on the first chasers, where newly crowned Dutch champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) was doing most of the work.
In the closing laps, Pauwels left Albert behind and was leading the chase on Bina during the penultimate lap. He came close to taking over the World Cup win as he was riding in second place while Albert was seventh. However, his dreams were shattered in a steep descent when he dropped his chain and watched many riders, including Albert, pass by. Bina rode smoothly most of time, with a small bobble late in the race, and solo'ed towards his first-ever World Cup victory. The late surge from Van der Haar resulted in a close second place ahead of Simon Zahner (Switzerland), Nys and Albert. Pauwels crossed the line in eighth place.
Albert wins the overall World Cup with 25-point gap on Pauwels. Nys was third.
Separation occurred early on the showy course in the elite women's race with only Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women Cycling Team) staying with her compatriot and teammate, world Champion Vos at the front. The duo quickly collected half a minute on a chasing group of Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Faren- Let’s go Finland Team), Italian champion Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) and Swiss champion Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus). At the half-way mark, van Paassen took the initiative in the lead group but on a right hand corner her front wheel slipped away and she went down in the snow. Vos made the most of this mistake to create a small gap which Van Paassen never managed to bridge. French rider Ferrier-Bruneau took third place on the snowy course.
World Cup leader Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) skipped the final round in Hoogerheide as she was already certain of the overall victory. Facing knee issues, the British Champion Nikki Harris (Great-Britain) dropped from second to third place in Hoogerheide due to a distant tenth place on the slippery course. Van Paassen moved up to claim second place in the World Cup.
and Van der Poel unbeatable in the under and juniors men races. With a fourth win in six rounds, Belgian Wietse Bosmans added the icing to his World Cup cake. Bosmans left his last rivals behind at the half-way mark of the U23 race. Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) held off French U23 champion Julian Alaphilippe for second place in Hoogerheide. Bosmans is the logical winner of the World Cup with compatriot Wout Van Aert (Belgium) finishing second. Corne van Kessel (the Netherlands) and Vermeersch share third place, with Van Kessel coming out on top due to a greater number of second places.
In the first race of the day, world champion Mathieu Van der Poel completed his unbeaten winning streak in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. Van der Poel, of the Netherlands, completed a six-lap solo ride, arriving half a minute ahead of his compatriot Martijn Budding and Italian junior champion Gioele Bertolini. The overall World Cup is won by Van der Poel, well ahead of Budding and American champion Logan Owen.
Two races were held on Saturday, both C2, the Internationale Cyclo-Cross Rucphen in the Netherlands for elite men and women, and the Kasteelcross Zonnebeke for elite men only in Belgium.
Lars van der Haar claimed his first win as Dutch champion at the Internationale Cyclo-Cross Rucphen. Van der Haar quickly established a gap which build up to 45 seconds by the finish. Radomir Simunek (Kwadro-Stannah) was second and Marcel Meisen (BKCP - Powerplus), third. Marianne Vos soloed to the win in the elite women's race, with almost a two-minute gap by the time she crossed the finish line. Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet Fidea) was second and Monique van der Ree, third.
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) pipped a celebrating Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Mountain Bike) on the line to win the Kasteelcross Zonnebeke. The lead group which included Meeusen, Taramarcaz, Sven Vanthourenhout (Crelan-Euphony), Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP - Powerplus), Mariusz Gil (Kwadro-Stannah) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) took off early in the race and was joined by Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) on the third lap. Taramarcaz attacked with only Meeusen able to follow his wheel, and the two stayed together to the finish. Sven Vanthourenhout was third.
Belgian champion Vantorbout abandoned after crashing and skipped the World Cup on the following day,
On Sunday, Petr Dask (Grand Prix Möbel Alvisse) won the C2 Grand Prix Möbel Alvisse in Luxembourg. With four laps to go, the Czech rider attacked the lead group and escaped to take his second consecutive victory at this race. Daan Soete (Young Telenet Fidea) was second and Joeri Adams (Telenet Fidea), third.