Category: Race Report

Ruts ‘n’ Guts: Hecht, Runnels close out ProCX with wins

Samantha Runnels and Gage Hecht closed out USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) with victories in Oklahoma on Sunday.

Hecht continues streak


Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru) captured his fourth straight victory, as he won two races last weekend at the Resolution Cup and both events at Ruts ‘n’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Racing under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 40s, Hecht and six others quickly formed a leading group on the opening lap of Sunday’s race. It grew to eight riders after two laps, and during the middle of the nine-lap race the composition of the groups ebbed and flowed as riders jockeyed for position.

With five laps left, just five riders remained at the sharp end of the race — Hecht, Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports), Curtis White (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld), Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton-Transitions), and Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team). From that point, the race was on as the smaller group battled it out.

White made a move two laps later after finishing second the previous day. He surged ahead of the leaders, which fractured the group and forced Hecht to go into chase mode. Hecht was able to catch White before he put too much real estate between them and then passed him.

Hecht would not relinquish his lead and eventually finished 10 seconds ahead of White for his sixth win of the 2018 ProCX. Van den Ham was an additional 37 seconds behind in third place.

Runnels does it alone


In the women’s race, four riders — Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX), Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru), and Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) — found themselves at the front of the race halfway through the first lap. Runnels, however, was not content to sit in the group and bide her time. In the second half of the next lap, she pushed ahead of her competitors and began her solo ride to victory.

After three times around the course, Runnels had built a 25-second lead over Honsinger, Clouse, and Gilbert as the rest of the field behind them shattered into small groups.

As the laps ticked away, Clouse mounted a challenge and tried to catch Runnels. She pulled to within seven seconds at the start of the bell lap but was unable to reach Runnels and ultimately finished 11 seconds back. Honsinger placed third at 21 ticks behind the winner.

Runnels’s triumph was her third of the series.

Read the full article at Ruts ‘n’ Guts: Hecht, Runnels close out ProCX with wins on

Williams and Werner survive the snow to win at North Carolina GP

Storm Diego blew in just as the racing started at North Carolina GP Saturday. Snow fell and melted on the surfaces, making for slick, slippery racing that saw wins for Lily Williams (The Pony Shop) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano).

Williams goes solo as contenders slip up

NC GP 2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

Williams took her first ProCX win of the season in the women’s, taking the lead early and having a clear run through the race.

Course conditions changed between the pre-ride and the start of the race due to falling snow, making the course greasy, and this was evident as several riders at the front crashed in the first lap, including Erica Zaveta (Renewed Cyclocross) and Hannah Arensman. This loss of rhythm allowed Williams to gain distance at the front by lap two.

Williams continued to extend her lead through the middle of the race. Meanwhile, behind her, Zaveta would work her way back into contention, passing Arensman and Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective).

Williams remained on the front until the end of the race, and took victory in 47:11. Zaveta took second, 30 seconds back. Third place was taken by Swartz, 57 seconds off the pace.

“I got out of the traffic pretty quickly. It was getting slippery as the race went on,” said Williams. “I think in the woods is where I got separation. I don’t really know how it happened, but I just kind of rolled with it. Just being able to go one speed the whole race is really good for me. And staying upright. I didn’t go down once! That was very nice. Not falling was definitely a plus.”

“I was hoping to win, because I live near here. I always wanted to win this race,” said Zaveta. “Mostly, I’m really happy that I feel like I’m competitive and I’m racing. I feel like I rode a good race, minus crashing. That’s always the best feeling, I had fun.”

Werner outlasts Willsey for the win

NC GP2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

ProCX leader Werner gained his eighth ProCX victory of the year in the falling snow.

Werner and Cooper Willsey (Cyclocrossworld) went toe-to-toe down the start chute, starting the fight for the front straight away, though Werner took the holeshot. The pair continued shoulder to shoulder for the next four laps, with Willsey doing much of the work at the front.

Behind them, Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave) chased with Eric Thompson and Alex Ryan. With three laps to go, Thompson faded and Holmgrem moved up to third.

At the head of the race, Werner attacked on three laps remaining and Willsey was unable to match him, allowing Werner to go solo to the win, with Willsey following, 50 seconds back. Holmgrem finished third, seven seconds behind him.

“It wasn’t super soupy out there, just a constant spray from the snow melting in the tracks,” said Werner. “My body was good too, it was mostly just my hands. Every straightaway I was swinging them, trying to get the pendulum effect and get some blood down in them. It wasn’t too bad until the last two laps and then it got real cold.”

“I just didn’t want anybody in front of me with the conditions as they were,” Werner continued. “For the most part, I knew it was going to be slippery. I tried to be patient those first couple laps and just see how everybody else was riding.”

“I tried to put myself in a good position, trying not to be caught by anyone,” said Willsey. “I paid for it a bit in the end, and got pretty cold. The body shut down in the last two laps. But it was a fun race and I love conditions like this. It was a blast.”

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Clouse and Hecht victorious at Ruts ‘n’ Guts

Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) and Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) won the first day’s racing at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on a fast, dry course.

Third attack lucky for Clouse

Ruts N Guts WC1 _30A0816
Photo: Bo Bickerstaff

Clouse held off fierce competition from a lead group of four to take her second Pro CX victory of the season.

Clouse took the holeshot and was joined at the front by Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team), Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Maxxis), Samantha Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (PTeam S&M CX), Raylyn Nuss (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek), and Caroline Mani (Besancon, France), though the latter soon faded off the back.

Halfway through the six-lap contest, Nuss had also dropped from the lead group, making five at the front.

Clouse put in the first attack major attack of the race on the sandpit but Gilbert soon closed it down.

With only two laps of racing remaining, last year’s runner-up McFadden was the next rider to drop out of the lead group leaving four riders to fight for the victory: Clouse, Gilbert, Honsinger, and Runnels. Clouse made another move on the barriers going into the final lap but Gilbert again closed the slight gap and took the front of the group.

Clouse attacked again on the final lap, and this time the move stuck, and she crossed the line in 43:18, five seconds ahead of Gilbert, who edged out Honsinger in the sprint.

“It was down to Clara [Honsinger], Katie [Clouse], and me exchanging attacks,” Gilbert said. “Katie built a small gap through the final wooded section, and I got an even smaller gap coming out of the woods. We both held off a hard-charging Clara, and motivated Sammi [Runnels] for the podium spots.”

“No bobbles or mechanicals to heighten the drama among the top riders, just sheer riding ability and speed,” added Gilbert.

Hecht seizes opportunity to break clear of strong lead group

Ruts N Guts MC1 _K4A5926
Photo: Bo Bickerstaff

Hecht rode smoothly to hold off the field and take his fifth Pro CX victory of the season

Racing started fast in the men’s with the lead group constantly re-shuffling in the opening laps.

After two laps, Andrew Dillman (SDG Factory Team) was at the front of a five-rider group with Hecht, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team), and Anthony Clark (Squid Squad) close behind.

Further back, Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) was chasing hard after being caught in traffic early in the race, and had nearly caught the leaders by lap three.

When Dillman had a mechanical in the third lap, Hecht took full advantage of the mishap to forge ahead solo. Behind him, Powers caught White and Clark, and moved up to second place, having been in 11th not long before.

The situation stayed largely static for the next three laps with Clark dropping back. With one lap to go, Hecht had 14 seconds on White and Powers, who battled for second.

Hecht held his lead to win in 57:32. White took second from Powers in a sprint, six seconds behind.

“It’s been such a hard year with injury, third place in the sprint for second with Curtis [White] is a win for me in so many ways,” said Powers. “I enjoyed the battle in that group and I’m looking forward to Nationals next.”

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NBX Gran Prix, day 2: Keough and Hyde succeed in the slop

On the heels of their victories on Saturday, Kaitie Keough and Stephen Hyde won Sunday’s cyclocross races in West Warwick, Rhode Island, wrapping up a shining weekend for the team amid rainy conditions.

Keough wins by comfortable margin

Keough rode alone to victory in the mud on Sunday at NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross. Photo: Angelica Dixon

From the gun, Keough emerged at the front of the race, joined by Regina Legge (Trek) and Ruby West (Specialized-Tenspeed Hero).

The muddy conditions seemed to catch some of the riders off-guard.

“We were contending equally with the course as with the conditions of the course,” said Rebecca Fahringer (Kona-Shimano). “It’s tricky in this situation because parts were slick mud. Nobody expected the sandy ground here to get slick, but it was. This slick mud was like we’ve never seen it, in combination with the tough roots. This was an NBX like no one has ever seen.”

First Legge faded from the picture at the front.

Then, West fell off the pace after two laps and Keough’s lead went out to about 11 seconds.

Fahringer battled up to third place after a poor start. She also had to overcome a crash on the first lap of the race.

“I tapped my brakes at the wrong time, lost my bike,” said Fahringer. “I was down on the ground, hunkered down, and yelled, ‘Please, nobody hit me,’ as the field goes on either side. Luckily, nobody hit my bike. Nobody hit me. So I was up and clear, so that’s good, not quite last. Fought through the field, and honestly, was just thinking it’s going to be good to finish. Somehow, I managed to stay on the podium despite a pretty big mistake at the start. I was pretty happy about that.”

Going into the bell lap, Keough’s lead stood at around half a minute. Although West trimmed that lead considerably on the final circuit, Keough went on to win the day.

“I just tried to follow her for as long as possible, to see the lines she was taking, figure out the course a little better than yesterday,” said West. “I think I was being pretty smooth out there. I think I had only one or two close calls. So I’m really happy with how I was riding today. I’m thrilled with second place.”

Fahringer held on for third and in doing so won the overall in the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series.

Hyde confirms he’s back to his best

After a few weeks recovering from injury, Hyde won both days at the NBX Gran Prix. Photo: Angelica Dixon

The rain eased up in time for the elite men’s race, and any clouds of doubt about Hyde’s form were blown clear as the national champion took control to win his second race in a row.

Returning to racing after an ankle injury suffered at Pan-American Championships in early November, Hyde seemed back to normal, making the first selection on lap one with his teammate Curtis White, Jeremy Powers (Pactimo-Fuji), and Kerry Werner (Kona-Shimano).

“The first couple of laps, there was a group of four of us,” Werner said. “We went out with Stephen [Hyde]. Then it just split.”

Hyde and Werner dispatched White after three laps.

Powers was following about 15 seconds behind with another rider, Spencer Petrov.

“Stephen [Hyde] and I were trading turns at the front early,” Werner added. “That kind of separated Powers first, then Curtis [White]. Later on in the race, I just got a little gassed. Maybe a little bit of fatigue from the last training block, or Stephen just coming on really strong going into nationals. The last two laps he just got away from me. That was all she wrote.”

Hyde got clear on the course’s hilly section with two to go and rode alone to victory.

“When we came through the up-down section after the barriers, which is difficult to ride, I came into it with a little tiny bit of a gap,” Hyde said about making a winning move with two laps to go. “I just happened to nail it on that ride. No forced acceleration or anything, I just happened to nail it. I got good speed out of it and I was able to hold that gap.”

Werner and White came home second and third, respectively.

White took consolation in winning the overall Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series. “I think the Vittoria Series is something special,” said White. “They do a wonderful job for this sport in this area with the development and focus towards the elites. I just tried to bring my best to the start line. You know, this weekend with it being a C1, there were a lot of fast guys bringing their A games and getting ready for nationals. I think it was a treat to race at that level.

“Hyde and Kerry [Werner] were riding really well today. I tried to stay with them, but I wasn’t on the best form today. I don’t think I recovered as well as I could have from yesterday. But one bad day out of the entire Series, I’m not too disappointed in the grand scheme of things.”

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Resolution CX: Hecht, Clouse take Texas wins

Gage Hecht and Katie Clouse grabbed victories on the second day of racing at the Resolution ’Cross Cup in Garland, Texas.

The dry and hard-packed course yielded fast racing in each of the events.

Hecht sweeps

Gage Hecht
Following his win in Saturday’s elite men’s race, Hecht returned on Sunday looking to go perfect on the weekend of ProCX action.

By the second lap, six riders had settled in at the front of the field that was comprised of 24 riders. That group included Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru), Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton-Transitions), Andrew “Drew” Dillman (SDG Factory Team), Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru), Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins-Specialized), and Ben Gomez Villafane (Garneau-Easton-Transitions). The group slowly whittled down under the quick pace, with Hecht and Dillman finding themselves all alone at the front with two laps remaining.

From that point, the duel was on.

“I knew that he was strong on the straights,” Dillman said. “Right before one to go, I had a little bit of a gap, I saw a little glimmer of hope, I tried to take advantage of it but I looked back by the end of the pavement and he was right there.

“I was hopping the barriers, he wasn’t so he made a smart move and got in front of me before the barriers and I was able to pass him back and then he passed me again before the woods. I think he knew what I was thinking so he wanted to get to the pavement first.”

Hecht finished the nine-lap race in 59:12, 8 seconds faster than Dillman and 32 seconds ahead of third-place Kaiser.

“It was really hard, I definitely felt yesterday a little bit, I felt like maybe I could keep it together,” Hecht said. “Coming into one to go, I felt ‘OK, I can have a little confidence that I had a chance of going for it.’”

Clouse shuts down late attacks

Courtenay McFadden and Katie Clouse
Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru) claimed her first win of the 2018 ProCX season by staying at or near the front of the race throughout and then stopping a pair of attacks with half a lap to go.

Several groups formed in the field of 23 riders, including the leading foursome of Clouse, Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Maxxis-Stan’s DNA Cycling), Lily Williams (The Pony Shop-KPMG), and Raylyn Nuss (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek).

Clouse and McFadden led the charge for most of the six-lap race until Nuss made a move with one lap remaining. Her effort fell short partially because she came unclipped while pedaling.

In the meantime, McFadden — who won Saturday’s race in Garland — tried a move of her own to see if it would stick and lead her to another victory. Clouse, however, quickly shut it down and surged ahead to take the win in 44:01, 8 seconds ahead of McFadden and 16 seconds ahead of Nuss.

“I’m so new to the sport so I’m still trying to figure out when to go and when to not go. So I went on the last lap and I kind of fumbled and unclipped and that’s where I lost my punch,” Nuss said. “The last two laps were fast and were super fun and being on these two wheels and really learning how to corner quickly and everything so it was good. It was fun.”

Said Clouse: “It was definitely difficult coming into the season late, I just came off of a couple of weeks of hard training so I’m super happy with how I’m racing right now.”

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Cannondale take clean sweep with Keough and Hyde at NBX CX

Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b commanded the women’s race while Stephen Hyde (also Cannondale p/b reignited his season at the first day of racing in Warwick, Rhode Island.

The day’s second-place finishers extended their leads in the Vittoria series, with Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) now on 200 points and Curtis White (Cannondale p/b clinching the men’s overall title with 350 points.

Keough untouchable in a dominant performance

NBC CX 2018

Keough lead from the very start. She took the holeshot, and immediately built a gap that wouldn’t be threatened throughout the race.

“I made a couple of little mistakes here and there, but that’s, for the most part, normal,” said the winner. “This is my last race weekend before Nationals, so I was just trying to get a hard day in.”

The race became a fight for second place, with Fahringer, Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme Racing), and last year’s winner Ruby West (Specialized-Tenspeed Hero) battling it out.

Fahringer held off Kemmerer and West, crossing the line 42 seconds behind the winner. West took third place in a sprint, a further 15 seconds back.

“I had a really bad start,” said Fahringer. “So, I dealt with some traffic on the first lap and I found myself in second. I knew Kaitie [Keough] was gone. She was riding smooth, she was so far up.”

Fahringer is now third in the ProCX standings, with Keough in fifth overall.

“Kaitie [Keough] was here, so that also made it a super fast race,” said West. “She just kind of got the holeshot and rode away from us right away. So I tried to stay with her for as long as possible because I knew she was the strongest one out there.”

Hyde bounces back after layoff

NBX CX 2018

The Cannondale p/b team dominated the race early on, with Hyde taking the holeshot and setting a rapid pace.

By lap three, teammates Hyde and White were off the front as a pair, while Spencer Petrov (also Cannondale p/b battled ProCX points leader Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) for third.

Behind them were Jack Kisseberth (Garneau Easton) and 18-year-old Sam Noel (UVM Cycling / Cannondale Cyclocross).

Hyde won in 58:06, with White eight seconds behind. Werner took the sprint for third place from Petrov, 01:27 seconds behind the winner.

“This is my first race back in four weeks, I think,” the winner said, having broken his sternum in September at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Waterloo. “And before that, I did two race weekends, and it was six weeks off for the injury. You know, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about racing, and getting back to it. I was so excited today.”

“I honestly had no idea where my fitness is at, because I haven’t been racing and everyone else has,” said Hyde. “That always puts a big question mark in your head.”

Third-place Werner noted that “Spencer [Petrov] actually came inside of me onto the final corner and had me by half a bike length or so. But I was able to get on top of it and hold him off.”

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Resolution CX: McFadden and Hecht leave it late to make winning moves.

Conditions were tacky and sticky in Garland, Texas, after an overnight storm but a warm and dry morning.

The course included new wooded and stair sections, and the popular BMX-style pump track and creek bottom “wall” climb of previous years remained.

McFadden takes the stairs to claim second Pro CX win of the season

Resolution CX 2018

Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Maxxis) attacked on the bell lap of Saturday’s racing to drop Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) and power away for victory.

A group of three riders went away at the front the 22-rider field on the first lap, made up of McFadden, Clouse, and Lily Williams (The Pony Shop). The trio marked each other out and a lap later were joined by Raylyn Nuss (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek)

On a fast, windy course, the four raced tactically, none wanting to take the front more than necessary, and the race reached a stalemate. However, with two laps to go, McFadden attacked to drop Nuss and Williams, with Clouse hanging on.

On the final lap, McFadden and Clouse had a gap of five seconds on the chasing pair.

McFadden attacked again on the new stairs section that climbed back to the top portion of the venue and quickly opened up a gap which she held to the finish, winning in 46:34.

Runner-up Clouse crossed the line 14 seconds later. Nuss attacked Williams on the final lap to claim third, 32 seconds behind the winner.

“Katie [Clouse] and I every time we went into the woods we would make a gap on Raylyn [Nuss] and Lily [Williams],” said McFadden. “And so I knew that it was going to be Katie and I that were the strongest through there towards the end of the race. I went into it to conserve my efforts but also still race smart and make sure that it didn’t go down to a four-person sprint. During those laps when we were all together, I was monitoring where everybody was struggling and where they were struggling at.”

“The grassy hill is a little different,” added the winner, about the modified course. “We’ve never, since I’ve been here, gone up to the parking lot so that was kind of fun.”

Hecht masters the woods to take the win

Resolution CX 2018

Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co) used the course’s tricky wooded section to his advantage to drop Andrew Dillman (SDG Factory Team), taking his third Pro CX win of the season.

The break went away on the first lap, made up of Hecht, Dillman, Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton), and Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle co).

The tricky wooded section disrupted the front group on the second lap and Van Den Ham went down. He later abandoned the race. Later on, faced with a mechanical, Hecht had to run to the pit to get a new bike while Dillman and Fix stayed together at the front.

Hecht had a fast bike change and chased hard, and by lap three was back with the Dillman and Fix at the front of the race.

Behind, Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins), Nicolas Gaurin (PACC Racing), and Ben Gomez Villafane (Garneau – Easton) had formed a chase group 10 seconds back.

Despite Dillman’s efforts to disrupt any team tactics between Hecht and Fix, the lead trio built their lead to 30 seconds, before Fix succumbed to the rapid pace and dropped back. Hecht and Dillman remained together until the critical wooded section on the final lap, where Hecht’s perfect lines allowed him to gap Dillman, and ride on to victory in 55:40.

Dillman crossed the line 11 seconds later. Fix came in third, 31 seconds after the winner.

“I tried to get right in the middle and stick myself right in the middle between the two and that way they couldn’t do tactics even if they wanted to,” Dillman explained, regards leading the race with the Alpha Bicycle co pair. “But luckily they were not thinking that way and I was in a safe spot.”

“I think it’s really good to be ready for Nationals,” Hecht said of the weekend’s racing.  “It’s really hard to stay on speed without being on a race course with these guys. These are some of the fastest guys in the country, or North American with Van Den Ham here, so it’s really good to be out here racing with these guys and getting that extra speed to be ready for Nationals and race with the best.”

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Van der Poel crushes the field at Koksijde

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) made it look easy in the setting sun and sand dunes of Koksijde. He took the lead within five minutes, built a huge gap in the first half of the race, and was able to ease off the gas to enjoy the final laps in comfort.

“Koksijde is one of my favorite races, and I always come here motivated,” Van der Poel said. “I wanted to go flat out one more time before starting my training camp.”

Van der Poel took the holeshot, with Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) tight on his wheel, and a select group including Quinten Hermans, Corne van Kessel (both Telenet Fidea Lions) Wout van Aert, and World Cup leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) close behind. World champion Van Aert crashed early in the lap on a sandy bank, losing momentum and time.

As soon as halfway through the opening lap, Van der Poel had built a 10-second lead, growing this to 15 seconds as he crossed the line for lap two. The chase was led by Van der Haar, with Van Kessel and Aerts a few seconds behind him. Van Aert steadily regained the time he lost to his earlier mistake, and made contact with Van Kessel and Aerts toward the end of the lap.

By lap three, Van der Poel was over 20 seconds in the lead, with Aerts second, and Van Kessel, Van Aert, Van der Haar and Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) soon behind him. Van der Poel was racing confidently yet aggressively at the head of the course, constantly gaining time, looking totally in control as he guided his bike through the sand, always looking fully composed.

Van Aert was leading the chasers by lap four, 38 seconds behind the leader, with series leader Aerts immediately behind. The world champion did not look pressured after his unfortunate start and rode smoothly, however, he was unable to gain time on the leader. Van der Poel’s handling and form was imperious, and he posted the fastest lap of the race so far on lap four.

As the race wore on, Van Aert slowly started to distance Aerts, and the race stretched out, with gaps appearing throughout the top eight. Behind Aerts came Van der Haar, Van Kessel, Soete, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal).

By lap eight, Van Aert had kept Van der Poel at 36 seconds, though this appeared mainly due to the leader’s easing in pace as he sensed his dominance over the field. Aerts was 15 seconds further back. Van der Poel continued to ride more steadily through the final lap of the race, taking the opportunity to showboat for the huge crowds.

Van der Poel went on to win in 1:04:13, with Van Aert 25 seconds back, and Aerts 23 seconds behind him, retaining the World Cup leader’s jersey with his third place.

“I don’t know what happened but I clearly wasn’t focused,” said Van Aert about his crash. “It’s a pity because after that opening lap I managed to keep up with Mathieu [Van der Poel].”

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Koksijde: Betsema battles back in aggressive win

Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal) attacked relentlessly to squeeze out Nikki Brammeier (Mudiita) on a freezing, windy day in Koksidje, with Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts-777) holding off a hard-battling Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Corendon-Circus) for third.

“What a weekend. After yesterday it was already great,” said Betsema, referring back to her win at Ambiancecross the day before. “I was able to move up all the time. I can’t believe that I’ve won.”

World Cup leader Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) went out hard, taking the lead immediately and spreading out the field, with Sanne Cant (Corendon-Circus), Katie Compton (KFC Racing), Brammeier, Alvarado and Worst chasing on her heels. Betsema had a slow start and missed the initial selection.

Voss dominated the majority of the first lap, however, dropped back as the race started lap two, with Brammerier, Cant and Worst crossing as a lead trio. Vos was breathing heavily and looking labored through lap two and looked to be paying for her earlier efforts. At the front, Brammeier dominated the race, with Cant and Worst marking her closely. A chase pack including Betsema were over 20 seconds back.

As the race entered the third lap, Brammeier, Worst, Alvarado, Cant, and Compton had formed a clear lead bunch, crossing the line within five seconds of each other, with Brammeier first, always looking strong and in control. She attacked several times, but Worst was always able to match her, repeatedly pulling the chase group back.

Behind, Betsema had separated herself from the chase group and was chasing hard, and was only 3-4 seconds behind the lead quintet. Half-way through lap three she was back in contact. The newly-formed group of six was being paced by Cant, with Brammier still looking very confident on her wheel.

It was now Cant’s turn to attack repeatedly. All of the group managed to stay with her except Compton, who started to look fatigued and fell off the pace. Cant’s attacks gained her a few seconds going over the line into lap four, however, Betsema dragged the group back together, with Compton now detached, five seconds behind in sixth place.

Having regained contact with the group, Betsema looked confident, attacking repeatedly. Although the group stayed together, Cant looked to be struggling, briefly losing contact. Compton had now slipped into seventh, with Alice Maria Arzuffi (Steylaerts-777) moving into sixth.

Going into the bell lap, Betsema and Brammeier had taken a few seconds over the group and were constantly swapping the lead, with Alvarado and Worst chasing together. Halfway through the lap, Betsema put in a massive move to distance Brammeier, who by now had been joined by Worst. Betsema quickly gained a four-second gap, only to lose some of that time when struggling to remount after a sandy climb. However, she retained composure to immediately accelerate again, keeping the chasers at bay.

Betsema went on to take the win in 45:53, posting the fastest lap of the race as she did so. Alvarado battled hard to take third, but was beaten to the final podium spot by Worst.

“This is one of my favorite courses,” said Brammeier. “I trained to be good here. I’m super happy to be on the podium.”

World Cup leader Vos finished 12th after her fast start, but remains the series leader.

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Major Taylor CX: Gomez Villafane takes two; Brunner takes first

Sofia Gomez Villafane (Pivot-Maxxis) was super on Sunday at the Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup, winning her second race in a row, while Eric Brunner (FCX Elite) won a sprint to earn his maiden UCI elite victory in Indianapolis. On a dry day with temperatures near 40 degrees, smart tactics won the day on the fast track at the Indy Cycloplex.

Gomez Villafane overcomes dropped chain

Gomez Villafane

As was the case in Saturday’s race, Gomez Villafane linked up with teammate Courtenay McFadden for an early escape on lap one of the women’s race.

Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel) and Emma Swartz (Marian University Cycling) put in a big effort to bridge up to the duo and were successful, reaching the front of the race by the end of that first lap.

It wasn’t smooth sailing for the Argentine Gomez Villafane though.

“I just made a shifting error, it’s really bumpy and my chain came off,” she said. “I really should run a chain catcher but I’ve been too lazy to buy one to be honest so there’s my karma. But it was a good day to practice the mental side of it all.”

Fortunately, McFadden was marking the lead group, which helped Gomez Villafane return to the front.

“I really, really chased. Thankfully one of the three people up front was my teammate and she wasn’t doing any work and it really benefited me a lot,” added Gomez Villafane.

On the final lap, Gilbert struck first, but she couldn’t break up the group.

It came down to a sprint and Gomez Villafane took the win ahead of McFadden. Swartz rounded out the podium in third, despite barely hanging onto the lead group late in the race.

“The course dried up a little bit more, I’m running a file tread on my rear, so I thought it was going to be a lot faster and a lot more tactical. I was a little tired from yesterday’s effort so there was a lot of sitting in, and I ended having to do a lot of chasing in this race. It just shows that the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line,” Gomez Villafane said of the Sunday race.

Brunner sprints to first UCI elite win


Brunner, Andrew Dillman (SDG), Jamey Driscoll (Pivot-Maxxis), and Caleb Swartz (Marian University Cycling) got away on the first lap of the elite men’s race.

Dillman, winner of Saturday’s race in Indianapolis, crashed early, which gave Driscoll and Brunner a chance to ride clear.

However, it wasn’t a completely clean race for Brunner either. He slid out halfway through the race and also had to stop in the pit for a bike after a flat tire.

“I was in the front from early on and then I just had a few mistakes, I had a little bobble in the field about midway through the race. I had a flat with three to go and switches bikes and chased back on,” said Brunner.

The Coloradan, who was second in under-23 national cyclocross championships last January, was unsure he could chase back to the leaders.

“I really didn’t know because Driscoll came around me, he saw that I had a flat so I knew that he was going to push it. Once I got a new bike though, I was pretty confident,” he added.

After catching the front group, Brunner made his move on the barriers, on the bell lap.

“I pushed it a couple of times early in the lap but I saw that he [Dillman] was pretty strong, we dropped Driscoll. I knew that I was the only one hopping barriers so I just knew that I had to get around him before that,” Brunner said. “He took the barriers a lot faster than I expected. He was still on my wheel coming into the last straight. I didn’t know until the very end.”

It came down to a sprint, and Brunner proved fastest. Dillman was second, and Driscoll ended up third.

Read the full article at Major Taylor CX: Gomez Villafane takes two; Brunner takes first on