Toon Aerts triumphed in Sunday’s final round of the X20 Badkamers Trofee on a snowy, windy, technical course at the University of Brussels campus, but fellow Belgian Eli Iserbyt successfully defended the title he won last season when the series was called the DVV Trofee. Aerts added Sunday’s victory to a round of the Superprestige series, which set up his overall crown.
Iserbyt’s lead over second-place Aerts was 3:02 at the start of the race, as the diminutive rider has taken the first two rounds. Only disaster would stand in his way of defending his overall title. Aerts memorably snatched the Superprestige title from Iserbyt in Middelkerke’s final round.
Laurens Sweeck, winner of the Middelkerke Superprestige race and the penultimate X2O round on the same weekend, was an early leader, with Quinten Hermans, still on a high from winning Saturday’s Cross Eeklo, on his wheel. When Sweeck got a brake lever caught up in a fence, Hermans and teammate Corne van Kessel skipped away to lead Aerts by 3 seconds at the end of Lap 1.
Aerts joined the Tormans teammates at the front on Lap 2 and then paced the trio. There were five riders between the leaders and Iserbyt.
Aerts strung out the threesome on Lap 3, putting a lot of real estate between himself and Hermans and van Kessel. Iserbyt raced himself into fifth place.
Van Kessel began to lag at the end of Lap 4 of 8 because of a flat rear tire. He found Niels Vandeputte challenging him for the final podium place.
Lap 5 was the setting of Hermans catching Aerts, the latter of whom had to take a bike.
Iserbyt had teammate Michael Vanthourenhout for help and made up a little time going into Lap 6. By taking a higher line in an off-camber section, Hermans opened a gap on Aerts, but the Superprestige champ came back and it was his turn to power clear, enjoying a 3-second lead going into the seventh circuit.
Hermans was having the kind of pedal problems that frustrated Lucinda Brand earlier in the day, allowing Vandeputte to close in on the penultimate lap. When Aerts heard the bell, he had a 15-second lead.
Aerts took the win, Hermans was 20 seconds in arrears, and Vandeputte signaled his arrival with his first major series podium. Iserbyt placed sixth, but his title was safe, and the Belgian won the overall by 1:55 over his compatriot.
Unlike the women’s side, which saw Lucinda Brand sweep the Grand Slam, there were honours to go around on the men’s side this season. Wout Van Aert won the World Cup, Mathieu van der Poel repeated as world champion, Aerts claimed the Superprestige series and Iserbyt defended the X2O Badkamers Trofee.
2020-2021 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 8, Brussels
1) Toon Aerts (Belgium/Baloise Trek Lions) 57:45
2) Quinten Hermans (Belgium/Tormans) +0:20
3) Niels Vandeputte (Belgium/Alpecin-Fenix) +0:36