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Weekend CX roundup: Aerts and Brand take strong wins

The ‘cross season is still going

Sure, the world champs are the pinnacle of the season, but there’s still a few more races before ‘cross is officially over. Tom Pidcock is the world champion, Eli Iserbyt is the World Cup titlist and leads the Superprestige series, but Toon Aerts had made his own claim on the 2021-2022 cyclocross season as he padded his X20 Trofee series lead on Sunday with a victory in the penultimate round.

Lucinda Brand bounced back from losing her rainbow jersey by pulling out a big lead in the X2O Badkamers Trofee with a victory in the penultimate round on a difficult course in Lille. Brand is poised to win the three major series–World Cup, Superprestige and X2O Badkamers–for the second year in a row. She has taken 18 races this season.

Men’s race

Before Sunday Iserbyt had two rounds to make up 4:42 on Aerts. Both Belgians had won early rounds before Wout Van Aert showed up and earned a natural hat trick of victories. Laurens Sweeck, fresh off a Ethias Cross win in Maldegem, had taken the last round in Hamme.

Aerts, a power rider, nabbed the early lead on Lap 1, with his brother Thijs and Sweeck following. Aerts drove on into the rain while Sweeck chased hard. Iserbyt was in fifth place and lost out on bonus seconds at the end of the circuit. Vandeputte put distance between himself and Vanthourenhout on the penultimate lap.

On the bell lap, Vanthourenhout had a mechanical that gave Worlds runner-up Lars van der Haar and Tom Meeusen hope for the podium. The duo passed Vanthourenhout. Aerts celebrated with a little X2O Badkamers rubber duck. Van der Haar then outsprinted Meeusen for the third spot.

X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille

1) Toon Aerts (Belgium/Baloise Trek Lions) 58:08
2) Niels Vandeputte (Belgium/Alpecin-Fenix) +0:48
3) Lars van der Haar (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +1:00

Women’s race

Going into Sunday’s race World Cup winner Lucinda Brand led Denise Betsema by 21 seconds at the top of the table with two races left. After American Clara Honsinger’s first round victory, Brand took the next five rounds. Marianne Vos, Puck Pieterse and Fem van Empel were all absent. No Canadians were racing in Europe this weekend.

There was a long, straight stretch to start the race on Lap 1. Marion Norbert Riberolle seized the first lead but Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado soon took over. Betsema, who missed the Worlds because of illness, got caught up in the mud. The mud and sand created some big gaps. Brand joined Alvarado up front, Betsema chasing. Betsema then crashed.

On the third of four laps, Betsema was beginning to see her hopes of winning the series slipping away. She was fifth, a minute back. Worst and Alvarado were locked into their own scrap for the runner-up spot, and Worst began to pull away. Betsema was having a difficult race and sifted down to sixth.

Worst took a nine-second buffer into the bell lap. Brand was in no danger of being caught up front. A crash didn’t help Alvarado’s efforts to catch Worst. Worst was 57 seconds slower than Brand on Sunday. Betsema placed seventh at +2:24.
The final round of the series is next Sunday in Brussels.

X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 7, Lille

1) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) 46:00
2) Annemarie Worst (The Netherlands/777) +0:57
3) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) +1:50