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Cyclocross World Cup: Nash gets satisfaction at Namur, van der Poel repeats

Another thrilling skirmish between van der Poel and van Aert

Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic took her first big win of the season Sunday in the sixth round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup, repeating her 2014 triumph on the Namur Citadel. Belgian Wout van Aert survived a crash and error-filled first half of the race to clash once more with his Dutch rival Mathieu van der Poel on the final circuit, the Dutchman getting the better of van Aert for the second day in a row. Van der Poel also won last season’s Namur round of the World Cup and has now taken three 2016-2017 World Cup victories on the trot.

World champion Thalita De Jong (The Netherlands) had trouble on the hairy downhill section on Lap 1 of the elite women’s race. Nash, Sophie de Boer (The Netherlands), Eva Lechner (Italy) and Ellen Van Loy (The Netherlands) formed the leading armada. On Lap 2 last year’s World Cup winner and yesterday’s Scheldecross champ Sanne Cant (Belgium) crashed on the same section that claimed De Jong. Cant will be disappointed by her 13th on Sunday.

Lechner and Nash pushed out a three-second gap on de Boer after two laps. Nash left Lechner behind and de Boer was able to slip into second. Nash carried on alone at the front, Lechner’s bike change taking her momentarily out of third. De Boer made the junction with Nash on Lap 4.

On the bell lap de Boer and Nash led Eva Lechner (Italy) by 9-seconds. Nash attacked to create a gap but difficulties on a descent brought the two together. However, de Boer’s flat tire on the put her in arrears of not only Nash but Lechner for a third place finish. The Dutch rider keeps the World Cup lead.

In the elite men’s race Tom Meeusen (Belgium) led the long line after the gun. Van Aert crashed soon after the start. Van der Poel attacked halfway through and edged ahead by 12-seconds after lap one, van Aert having also crashed on the tricky downhill section.

After two laps the Dutchmen led his closest pursuer by 16-seconds. Van Aert and Meeusen fought their way back to van der Poel. With six laps to go the leading trio were 18-seconds ahead of a chasing group of five. Wout van Aert then had his brake levers get caught in the side netting, stopping him and putting his handlebars out of whack.

With five laps remaining, van der Poel rid himself of Meeusen as van Aert once more had to claw his way back. In the Canadian contingent, Geoff Kabush was 44th and Mark McConnell was 53rd at this point.

A van der Poel mistake on a climb inspired van Aert–riding the day’s fastest lap–to power closer to his rival. The Dutchman’s bike change dictated by a flat tire determined the catch.

Behind the two leaders Kevin Pauwels–twice a winner at Namur–took over third place from Meeusen, 27-seconds down with two laps remaining. Van der Poel kept adjusting his shoe. Any van Aert gaps created were minimal and manageable for van der Poel.

The bell rang for the rivals and they rode cagey as Pauwels came closer. But the kind of shoulder to shoulder skirmishing van Aert and van der Poel engaged in at Saturday’s Scheldecross put Pauwels farther behind.

Van der Poel attacked before the climb and carried on, van Aert dabbing twice in pursuit. Van der Poel had finally done enough to shed his rival for good. Once more, he basked in the glory of the confetti cannons. Van Aert leads the World Cup after the sixth round.

Kabush came 36th, two laps down and McConnell was 51st, five laps down.

Canadian Junior champion Gunnar Holmgren was 13th in the Junior men’s category.

The UCI World Cup continues on Boxing Day at Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.

UCI Cyclocross World Cup Namur Elite Women
1) Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) 47:14
2) Eva Lechner (Italy) +0:12
3) Sophie de Boer (The Netherlands) +0:21

UCI Cyclocross World Cup Namur Elite Men

1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands) 1:04:20
2) Wout van Aert (Belgium) +0:16
3) Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) +0:27