Vanthourenhout wins in Val di Sole against a Van der Poel far from his pace
Vanthourenhout took his second victory of the season in a disappointing race for Van der Poel, who couldn't find his rhythm on the snow of the Italian Alps and finished eighth. Vandeputte took second place and Kuhn won his own duel with Sweek for the podium. Iserbyt has been the bitter face after leaving the race on a stretcher.
Vanthourenhout dominates on a grey day for Van der Poel
The tenth race of the CX World Cup has shown the best version of Vanthourenhout. The Belgian waited for the moment to attack and, when he did, nobody was able to keep up with him. Van der Poel was the negative note of the day, far away from the front riders, he was out of the fight for the victory during the whole race.
The start was incident-free. Swiss rider Kuhn used his good grid position to take the lead, while Sweek, Vanthourenhout, Baestaens and Iserbyt were just behind. The first lap ended with the first five riders close together and Van der Poel in eighth place, already 13 seconds behind the leader.
Ahead, a group of four formed by Vanthourenhout, Iserbyt, Vandeputte and Kuhn was consolidating. A few corners later, it was Vandeputte who lost a few meters and Sweek, who was close behind, caught him. At the end of the second lap, the Orange Beast was already 19 seconds behind.
It looked increasingly difficult for Van der Poel to catch the front riders. The third lap started with Kuhn, Vanthourenhout and Vandeputte entering the finish line together. Vandeputte tried to open up a gap. As the pace increased, Kuhn was left behind. The fight for the lead was going to be a two-man battle: Vanthourenhout and Vandeputte himself.
But on the fourth lap Vanthourenhout pushed his legs a bit harder and gradually pulled away from Vandeputte. From then on, the gap between the two became bigger and bigger. Meanwhile, Van der Poel saw how he was getting further and further behind, already close to a minute behind.
The positions were then stabilised. The fifth lap started with Vandeputte 12 seconds behind Vanthourenhout. Behind, the fight for the last step of the podium was getting more interesting: Iserbyt, Sweek (who also had their own internal fight for the overall) and Kuhn.
The beautiful fight that these three riders were giving us came to an end after 34 minutes of the race. Iserbyt went to the ground and was in pain. The Belgian could do little to get back in the race. He was carried off on a stretcher. The seriousness of the injury is unknown, but it is inevitable to think that the overall would be very difficult for him if he missed a race.
At the finish, Vanthourenhout raised his arms ahead of Vandeputte, who took a well-deserved second place in one of his best performances of the year. Kuhn beat Sweek to take the podium. Van der Poel finished eighth, very far from the front.
Val di Sole CX World Cup - Elite Men's
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 57:59"
- Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +39"
- Kevin Kuhn (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) +42"
- Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) +44’’
- Timon Ruegg (Cross Team Legendre) +1'20"
- Vincent Baestaens +2'37"
- Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) +2'51"
- Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +3'14"
- Thijs Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) +3'19"
- Corné van Kessel (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) +3'19"
Overall Classification CX World Cup
- Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) 288 points
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 265 points
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 249 points
- Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) 205 points
- Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 178 points
- Kevin Kuhn (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) 134 points
- Jens Adams (Chocovit Cycling Team) 128 points
- Toon Vandebosch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 123 points
- Vincent Baestaens 106 points
- Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 98 points
Pieterse wins an accident race, Van Empel retires
The snow turned the tenth round of the CX World Cup into a race of survival. Minimising mistakes and surviving was the mantra on a day in which slips and crashes were very common among the riders in the leading positions.
Pieterse won in an excellent performance in which she did not give anyone the chance to take the victory from her. Even so, she had one of the first surprises of the afternoon when she crashed in the second corner while she was in second position. Persico, who was racing at home, took the lead in the first few metres and also crashed in the same corner.
At that point, Alvarado found herself leading the race and managed to gain a small margin over the others. She kept the distance for some time. Persico, in second place, was doing the same with those behind. However, by the end of the first lap, Alvarado, Persico and Pieterse - who was fifth, 9 seconds behind - were already together.
Van Empel, who was going unnoticed, was missed. In the top-10, the gap to the front was getting bigger and bigger, over half a minute. But the worst was yet to come.
Van Empel retired after a crash on the second lap. The Dutch rider was left lying on the ground. In pain, she did not try to continue. The first retirement of the season was confirmed when the stretcher took her away. It is not known if the leader of the overall has broken any bone, for lack of official information.
At that point, Alvarado crashed after his front wheel got stuck on the small but very steep climb of the Italian track. Persico, who was right behind, also fell. The two lost valuable time to Pieterse, who from then on did not let go of the lead and increased the gap throughout the race.
The episode left Alvarado 11 seconds behind and Persico 22 seconds behind, who saw third place threatened by Bakker, who appeared a few seconds away behind her. From then on it was a back-and-forth between Alvarado and Persico, who exchanged positions without managing to open up a gap between them.
Persico's problems came on the fourth lap. She suffered several crashes and chain problems, which inevitably caused her to lose ground to Alvarado. The last two laps started with the three positions very consolidated, with no possibility of anyone else being able to catch them.
Pieterse won ahead of Alvarado, who took her second World Cup podium of the season. Persico, always in podium positions, let third place slip away with two bends to go. Bakker, benefiting from the Italian rider's constant problems, reached the final stretch of the lap hooked to her wheel. Persico, who was braking hard when Bakker was already ahead, crashed again and, although she kept fourth place, she almost lost it to Rochette, who entered the race in parallel in fifth place.
Van Empel's big lead in the general classification allows her to maintain the first position with a large margin over her nearest rival, Pieterse.
Val di Sole CX World Cup - Elite Women's
- Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 50'14"
- Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +44"
- Manon Bakker (Crelan - Fristads) +1'26"
- Silvia Persico +1'34"
- Maghalie Rochette +1'34"
- Marie Schreiber (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) +3'33"
- Hélene Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) +4'07"
- Sara Casasola (Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite) +4'10"
- Sidney McGill +4'16"
- Kristyna Zemanová (Brilon Racing Team MB) +4'17"
Overall Classification CX World Cup
- Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 330 points
- Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 265 points
- Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 182 points
- Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 181 points
- Inge Van de Heijden (777) 171 points
- Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) 159 points
- Marie Schreiber (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) 132 points
- Manon Bakker (Crelan-Fristads) 126 points
- Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) 117 points
- Hélene Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) 109 points