Canadians’ Christmas Cross adventures continued on Sunday with the sixth round of the Superprestige series in Diegem, Belgium, with a special night race on a tricky, technical course under floodlights. Top Canadian in the elite women’s race was Jenn Jackson, who came 22nd in a race where World Champion and reigning Superprestige title holder Sanne Cant took the win and the series lead. Mathieu van der Poel had a couple of obstacles to overcome to keep his perfect 2018-2019 series alive.

Canadian champ Michael van den Ham was vexed by race officials’ decision to pull him with one lap to go. He was 36th on the day.

Canadians at Saturday’s Cyclocross Bredene

The day before, van den Ham cracked the elite men’s top-20 at Brico Cross Bredene, where Wout Van Aert prevailed. Maghalie Rochette was 17th in the elite women’s race as Lucinda Brand took the win.

The Superprestige Series So Far

Michael van der Poel was running away with the elite men’s title, having won all five races. In fact, van der Poel, Van Aert and Toon Aerts claimed all the podium places so far except for Gianni Vermeersch’s third place in Boom, Belgium.

The elite women’s side was far more interesting. Annemarie Worst (The Netherlands), Kim Van de Steene (The Netherlands), Marianne Vos (The Netherlands), Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy) and Cant (Belgium) all won rounds, with Arzuffi leading the series by two points over Cant and Worst after a win, a second and a third.

In Sunday’s earlier Junior men’s race, Canadians Ryan Maclean and Paul Mysko were 31st and 37th respectively.

Women’s Elite Race

Under the lights, Worst was the one to chase in the early part of the race with Eva Lechner (Italy) her closest pursuer going into Lap 3. Cant led a chase group in third position. Jenn Jackson was 19th and Dana Gilligan was 34th. Lechner found Worst’s wheel and going into the penultimate lap the two were only 12-seconds ahead of Cant and Dutch riders Denise Betsema and Maud Kaptheijns.

In short order on Lap 4, Lechner bolted on Worst, who was dispatched by Cant and Betsema. The Italian champion only led by 4-seconds when she heard the bell. The four riders came together midway through the last lap. Cant’s pace and the planks momentarily unhitched Lechner. Cant then opened up the gas on the finishing straight to take the win and the series lead by a single point over Worst. Arzuffi was 15th.

Jenn Jackson was also the top Canadian elite women in the Zolder round of the World Cup on Boxing Day. It’s only a matter of time until Jackson’s UCI ranking rises from 107th.

Elite Men’s Race

After van der Poel missed the start, Toon Aerts emerged from the ruck to nab an early lead but by Lap 2 Laurens Sweeck and then Michael Vanthourenhout had taken over. Wout Van Aert suffered early troubles and had to come back from 19th place to fifth by the finish.

On the third of nine laps, van der Poel pounced. On the fourth circuit the Dutchman collided with a course marshal and Vanthourenhout regained the lead. Van den Ham was 34th.

But it takes more than a crash into a poorly placed human in hi-vis to slow down van der Poel. With three laps remaining Vanthourenhout was 12-seconds in arrears with Van Aert, Aerts and Lars van der Haar farther back. Van den Ham had dropped back to 36th and Gunnar Holmgren was 40th.

Vanthourenhout and Aerts were on the podium with van der Poel. Van den Ham kept 36th, while Holgren made 39th.

2018-2019 Superprestige Round 5, Diegem, Belgium, Elite Women
1) Sanne Cant (Belgium/Corenden-Circus) 41:27
2) Annemarie Worst (The Netherlands/Steylaerts 777) +0:02
3) Denise Betsema (The Netherlands/Marlux-Bingoal) +0:03
22) Jenn Jackson (Canada) +2:56
34) Dana Gilligan (Canada) +5:49
38) Magdeleine Vallieres-Mill (Canada) +6:20
47) Sydney McGill (Canada) +7:53
62) Ruby West (Canada)

2018-2019 Superprestige Round 5, Diegem, Belgium, Elite Men
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Corenden-Circus) 1:03:56
2) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Marlux-Bingoal) +0:14
3) Toon Aerts (Belgium/Telenet-Fidea Lions) +0:39
36) Michael van den Ham (Canada)
39) Gunnar Holmgren (Canada)
51) Tyler Orschel (Canada)
52) Nicolas Diniz (Canada)
54) Cameron Jette (Canada)

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