Canadian cyclocross riders continued their Christmas Cross program on Friday with the fifth round of the DVV Trofee in Loenhout, Belgium. Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Sunweb) became the fifth different rider to win a elite women’s race in the 2018-2019 series, her contest barely making forty minutes. Canadians Maghalie Rochette and Ruby West finished together in 20th and 21st. Rochette was also 20th in the Namur World Cup race. Mathieu van der Poel continued his imperious run with another victory.

In the earlier races Canadians Tyler Orschel, Gunnar Holmgren and Nicolas Diniz were 32nd, 34th and 41st respectively in the Under-23 men’s race, while Ryan Maclean and Paul Mysko placed 22nd and 25th in the Junior men’s contest.

The Azencross course is known for its rollers. It was a very fast circuit.

Midway through the elite women’s five-lap race, World Champion Sanne Cant was in a high powered group with Brand, fourth round winner Denise Betsema, Katie Compton, Loes Sels and 2018 revelation Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.

Mountain biker Jolanda Neff of Switzerland was having none of that dismounting stuff.

By the bell lap Brand had the lead with Cant chasing. Betsema made it over to the duo as did her teammate Laura Verdonschot just before the sprint. Series leader Cant couldn’t overtake Brand, and the Dutch rider took her first series win of the season after coming second to Betsema at Soudal Scheldecross December 15.

Mathieu van der Poel came into Friday’s elite men’s race having won three of the first four. He was victorious in last year’s Azencross. Toon Aerts barely clung onto his World Cup lead on Wednesday–could be preserve his 57-seconds lead over van der Poel at the top of the DVV standings?

Van der Poel immediately seized the reins. Aerts caught air over a flyover and then took a new bike. Van der Poel had his ears pinned back on the fast circuit, finishing Lap 1 in 6:59 with Wout Van Aert and Michael Vanthourenhout close behind.

Van der Poel went down early in the second lap. He carried on with a group of six in pursuit seven seconds behind. After three of nine circuits, Van der Poel had a 17-second gap. Midway through the race, as Van Aert tried to shake his fellow chasers, the leading Dutchman started lapping fellows.

With the Dutchman running away with the race, the cameras stayed on the sextet behind him. Attrition created a quartet by the penultimate lap, with Aerts’ series lead under pressure. Aerts pushed the pace on the bell lap and only Van Aert could hang with him. Aerts would retain his DVV Trofee lead.

Twenty-fourth is Michael van den Ham’s best result of the first three Christmas Cross races.

Van der Poel has now won five World Cup races in a row, four of five DVV Trofee contests and all five Superprestige rounds.

The next round of the DVV Trofee, the Sven Nys GP in Baal, Belgium, is New Year’s Day. The Canadians will be back in action on Sunday at the Superprestige race in Diegem.

DVV Trofee Round Five Azencross Elite Women
1) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Sunweb) 40:02
2) Sanne Cant (Belgium/Corendon-Circus) +0:01
3) Denise Betsema (The Netherlands/Marlux-Bingoal) s.t.
20) Maghalie Rochette (Canada) +2:25
21) Ruby West (Canada) +2:31
28) Jenn Jackson (Canada) +3:41
41) Dana Gilligan (Canada) +4:50
52) Sydney McGill (Canada) +6:19

DVV Trofee Round Five Azencross Elite Men
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Corendon-Circus) 1:00:51
2) Wout Van Aert (Belgium) +0:40
3) Toon Aerts (Belgium/Telenet-Fidea Lions) +0:41
24) Michael van den Ham (Canada/Garneau-Easton) +4:54
40) Cameron Jette (Canada)

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