With Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert and Tom Pidcock having transferred to the road, elite men’s cyclocross racing was wide open this weekend, and Laurens Sweeck took advantage to follow up Saturday’s victory in the Superprestige series with a triumph in Sunday’s penultimate round of the X2O Trofee. Canadian Cameron Jette joined the European action this weekend, placing 46th in both the Superprestige round and Sunday’s Lille, Belgium X2O Trofee contest.
Situation before the start
Although Eli Iserbyt came up short in his attempt to nick the Superprestige title from Aerts on Saturday, he could feel confident that Aerts wouldn’t snatch the X2O Trofee from him, Aerts being 2:46 in arrears and teammate Michael Vanthourenhout 3:18 back.
Quinten Hermans led Iserbyt and Aerts early on Lap 1. The long train kept intact through the forest with Aerts as the engine. Iserbyt skipped past him to take the 15-second bonus at the line.
Sweeck came to the front on Lap 2. The order took shape: Sweeck, and then Hermans and Aerts, and then Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout.
The tale of Lap 3 was Sweeck pushing clear, with Aerts’ chase group growing to six riders. Sweeck was ahead of Corne van Kessel by 16 seconds at the line. Aerts was beginning to lag. Sweeck kept the gap at 16 seconds on Lap 4 of 7.
The group in contention for the podium was still large, with Lars van der Haar joining and van Kessel seemingly the hungriest. With Sweeck 29 seconds clear of van Kessel at the end of Lap 5, the real battle was about the other two steps.
On the penultimate lap, the order was Sweeck, van Kessel and Iserbyt, and then Hermans and Vanthourenhout. Sweeck heard the bell with a 19 second buffer.
Vanthourenhout joined the podium scrap on the bell lap. Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout lost ground to van Kessel in the sand before the series leader fell off the podium. Vanthourenhout made it a Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal one-two, but van Kessel will find satisfaction in his first podium of the season.
The final round is next Sunday at the University of Brussels. Barring disaster Iserbyt is likely to take the title.
2020-2021 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille, Elite Men
1) Laurens Sweeck (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 59:06
2) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:09
3) Corné van Kessel (The Netherlands/Tormans) +0:14