For the second year in a row, the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup series kicked off in the Czech Republic, but this year, the first race is in Tábor, followed by Plzen next weekend. The venue is well-known to fans and racers alike as it was used to host the 2011 and 2010 UCI World Championships and will host Worlds again in 2015.
Dutch rider Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Women Cycling Team) took the win in a two-up sprint against US champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective). Van Paassen took over the front of the race from Pavla Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea) halfway through the first lap, and was joined by British champion Helen Wyman (Kona) and Sanne Cant (Veldritacademie Enertherm – BKCP).
One lap later van Paassen put the hammer down. Compton moved up towards Van Paassen by the end of the second lap and then tried to put Van Paassen under pressure, in the last minutes of the race, to get a small gap, but in vain. Compton clocked in the fastest lap, eight minutes flat on the third of five laps. The two stayed together to the finish line. Wyman was third, crossing the line 26 seconds behind. Cant was fourth and Nikki Harris (Young Telenet Fidea) fifth.
In the elite men's race, overall defending World Cup champion Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) repeated his solo win from last year, when Tábor hosted the UCI World Cup's second round. This time he powered away from the lead group on the penultimate lap leaving behind three riders who would battle it out for the other podium spots. Racing in his first world cup with the elite men, two-time under-23 world champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team) outsprinted reigning World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) to take second.
Pauwels' teammate Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) fell just off the podium. After falling out of the lead group in the third lap with a broken chain, Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) chased back from 22nd to claim an unexpected fifth place, crossing the line 35 seconds behind the winner. Ten seconds later Bart Aernouts (AA Drink-Leontien.nl Cycling Team) won the sprint for sixth place. US national champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) who lead the chase group for multiple laps finished seventh, claiming the highest finish for an American in a World Cup .... for now.
Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands soloed to win the junior men's race with a 40-second lead on Quinten Hermans of Belgium. Karel Pokorny of Czech Republic was third, Martijn Budding of the Netherlands was fourth and USA's Logan Owen took fifth.
In the under-23 event, Dutch Mike Teunissen had a 16-second gap when when he celebrated his victory leaving a chase to fight for the podium. Dutchman Corne van Kessel was second, Belgian Wietse Bosmans third. US under-23 champion Zach McDonald fourth and Michael Vanthourenhout of Belgium, fifth.
All results posted on the UCI World Cup site.