In his first race at the elite level, young Belgian Eli Iserbyt claimed the first UCI Cyclocross World Cup event of the season in Iowa on Saturday. Reigning World Cup champ Toon Aerts was runner-up and Michael van den Ham was top Canadian.

Who was there and who wasn’t

Van den Ham led the Canadian contingent, with Cameron Jette, Christian Ricci and Danick Vandale making for a quartet.

World champion and winner of six of nine World Cup events last season, Mathieu van der Poel was occupied with taking the Tour of Britain road stage race, while Wout Van Aert was still recovering from his horrible Tour de France injury.

It was a tight string of riders midway through Lap 1 but reigning World Cup champ Toon Aerts took the lead with Iserbyt and Quinten Hermans. At just over 3 km, Aerts finished the first lap in 6:17. Aerts stayed on the bike climbing Mount Krumpet on Lap 2 and led Iserbyt over the line 8-seconds ahead of the next riders. Van den Ham was 33rd after two laps.

Aerts and Iberbyt received company by the end of Lap 3. Midway through the 10-lap contest, the leading group was down to Aerts, Iserbyt, Gianni Vermeersch and Daan Soete, Belgians all. A long grassy climb on Lap 6 found Vermeersch and Soete wanting. Van den Ham was still 33rd, but Ricci’s day was over.

Iserbyt, second in the U23 World Cup over the last two seasons, pushed away from Aerts on Lap 7. Going into the final lap, the younger Belgian had a 33-second gap over the more experienced one. Vermeersch, Soete and Laurens Sweeck would contest the last podium spot. Soete would nip Vermeersch at the line.

UCI Cyclocross World Cup #1, Jinglcross, Iowa, Elite Men
1) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 1:05:27
2) Toon Aerts (Belgium/Telenet Baloise Lions) +0:54
3) Daan Soete (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +1:00
31) Michael van den Ham (Canada/Easton-Giant)
37) Danick Vandale (Canada)
41) Cameron Jette (Canada)

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