In Saturday’s 10th round of the 2021-2022 UCI ‘Cross World Cup, Brit Tom Pidcock never stopped working to pin back Eli Iserbyt and caught the series leader on the final barriers to take his first World Cup win. Pidcock won on a fast course after the mud at Superprestige Boom and snow last week in the Val di Sole World Cup round. It was the first time in almost eight years that a Dutch or Belgian rider didn’t win an elite men’s World Cup. Rucphen was held without fans.
You can watch the 2021-2022 UCI Cyclocross World Cup at FloBikes.
There was no Wout Van Aert in Rucphen, as he was off on a training block, and Mathieu van der Poel’s season debut was delayed because of a knee injury. However, Canadian champ Michael van den Ham was racing, as was Cameron Jette.
A crash soon after the start held up a lot of riders. Lars van der Haar was an early leader on Lap 1.
On Lap 2, Iserbyt took over the front, with van der Haar, Quinten Hermans and Corne van Kessel following. Pidcock was back in ninth and van den Ham in 29th.
A big leading group of 11 entered Lap 3 with Hermans assuming Position One. Toon Aerts had pulled himself up to fourth. There was a slight decanting on the third circuit, as six riders were clear of a large chase group.
On Lap 4 of 9, Pidcock attacked before the carousel. Iserbyt wiped out on the steps and looked like he hurt himself. Hermans went back to the front as the group grew once more. Van den Ham drifted down to 40th.
Hermans carried on at the pointy end of the race on Lap 5, Pidcock glued to his wheel. Iserbyt carried on a little sore from his wreck, but emerged from the sandpit in the lead again. There were still 11 fellows in the group as it crossed the finish line.
As the race entered its final third, Iserbyt led Pidcock, Michael Vanthourenhout moving up to third in the string. This trio put some dirt between itself and Toon Aerts in the carousel. Iserbyt made a move midway through the circuit. Pidcock and Vanthourenhout yanked him back.
Toon Aerts laboured to catch up on the Lap 7. It would be Hermans who would bring back Aerts and van der Haar. Iserbyt toiled to break them off again and Vanthourenhout took his first lead.
Vanthourenhout was the first to enter the penultimate lap. Laurens Sweeck tried to make a leading septet. Iserbyt insisted on being first to the stairs, and then he and Vanthourenhout dropped Pidcock.
Pidcock was three seconds in arrears at the start of the bell lap. It would be a frantic conclusion to the race. Pidcock pulled himself a little closer to the leading duo. Iserbyt put some real estate between himself and Vanthourenhout. Pidcock squeezed past Vanthourenhout. Pidcock came out of the barriers in Position 1 and then accelerated around the final corner for the famous victory.
Runner-up Iserbyt still has a 109-point lead over Vanthourenhout in the World Cup standings.
Michael van den Ham was 44th and Jette 55th.
The next round is Sunday in Namur, Belgium for the hilly Citadelcross. Sixteen Canadians will race in the elite, U23 and Junior competitions.
2021-2022 UCI ‘Cross World Cup, Round 10, Rucphen
1) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain/Ineos Grenadiers) +1:03:26
2) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:03
3) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:08
44) Michael van den Ham (Canada) +5:22
55) Cameron Jette (Canada)