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De Boer and van Aert victorious at CrossVegas

Canadian Catharine Pendrel leads early, comes seventh

Sophie de Boer (The Netherlands) carried on where she left off in January, winning the 2016-2017 UCI Cyclocross World Cup kickoff at CrossVegas after she took top honours at the final event of last season’s World Cup on home soil in Hoogerheide. De Boer had to mount a sterling comeback on the final lap to triumph. The men’s race was another battle of the Belgians, with Wout van Aert making his own impressive comeback after a fall to repeat his CrossVegas title, winning by a wide margin.

The second year in a row that it has opened the UCI Cyclocross World Cup season, CrossVegas had some changes to the floodlit Desert Breeze Park course, mostly in the bowl section.

Olympic Games bronze medalist Catharine Pendrel (Luna-Clif Bar) burst away from the pack on lap 2 of the women’s race, with American 2013-2014 World Cup champion Katie Compton leading the chase. After the second lap Compton had moved past Pendrel and the closest chasers were de Boer and Czech Kateřina Nash. The quartet pulled out a lead that suggested that one of them would win the race.

The course was a fast, tough one, and the sandpit saw every rider hoisting her bike. Pendrel dropped away on the fourth lap with American Amanda Miller closing in on her.

Among the leading trio, it looked like the stairs would be the decisive part of the course. With just under a half lap to go, Compton and Nash dropped de Boer on the stairs but, remarkably, the Dutch woman powered back to take the win in a grass sprint. Pendrel took seventh.

In the 10-lap men’s race, the field didn’t make through the first turn without a crash. American Stephen Hyde of Cannondale led the strung out bunch on Lap 1. Again, the sandpit made almost all the riders dismount. Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Marlux-Napoleon Games) emerged from the pit in the lead. A group of ten went over the line in front.

Vanthourenhout and World Cup holder Wout Van Aert (Belgium) stayed on their bikes through the second sandpit visit and thinned the leading pack with compatriot Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Fidea), but the ten re-formed before the finish line. A sextet of Belgians separated itself on Lap 3 with Hermans pushing hard.

On the section of barriers, van Aert tripped and got his bike caught up in some tape. As the World Cup champion tried to shake off the crash, Vanthourenhout spun through the sand again and ripped out a sizeable lead. Vanthourenhout led a growing chase group by 19-seconds after four laps.

Van Aert worked his way to the front of the chase and led Laurens Sweeck (Era Real Estate-Circus), Toon Aerts and Hermans back to Vanthourenhout on Lap 5. Sweeck and Vanthourenhout spurted ahead again. By Lap 6, the front group had ballooned once more. Canadian Michael van den Ham was 15th on Lap 7.

After the barriers that tripped him up, van Aert attacked. Vanthourenhout went with him, but lost control in the sandpit. With two-laps remaining, the rainbow jersey was 19-seconds ahead. Van Aert, who won in Wisconsin on the weekend, had time to slap hands before the line.

Van den Ham placed 17th and he was pretty excited about it.

On Saturday, the World Cup continues with JingleCross Iowa.

CrossVegas Elite Women
1) Sophie de Boer (The Netherlands/Kalas-H.Essers-NNOF) 47:11
2) Kateřina Nash (Czech Republic) s.t.
3) Katie Compton (USA) s.t.
7) Catharine Pendrel (Canada/Luna-Clif Bar) +1:07

CrossVegas Elite Men
1) Wout van Aert (Belgium/Crelan-Vastgoedservice) 1:06:54
2) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Marlux-Napoleon Games) +0:23
3) Laurens Sweeck (Belgium/Era Real Estate-Circus) +0:26
17) Michael Van den Ham (Canada/Easton-Garneau) +2:20