Marianne Vos of the Netherlands continued her cyclocross comeback Monday in the sixth round of the World Cup at the Zolder, Belgium race track, outpowering Sanne Cant near the end of the final lap to take her second win in eight days. In the men’s race, World Champion Wout van Aert evened the 2016-2017 World Cup count with Dutch rival Wout van der Poel, dominating to seize his third triumph of the season with over a minute’s lead.
Ellen van Loy (Belgium) nabbed the lead on the first lap with World Cup leader Sophie de Boer (The Netherlands), Ellen Noble (USA) and Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands) seven seconds behind. Marianne Vos, winner at Diegem last week, started from the back on the pack.
Ellen Van Loy leads Sophie de Boer and Ellen Noble up the stairs at Zolder Cyclocross World Cup pic.twitter.com/ARbNaLjOvU
— Canadian Cycling Mag (@CDNCyclingMag) December 26, 2016
Van Loy’s lead was 6-seconds at the end of the third of five laps. Italian Eva Lechner did a lot of the work to get a chase group back, with Cant sitting on her wheel. Cant, De Boer, Vos, Lechner and Brand grabbed Van Loy with 2-laps remaining, Vos making a bike change.
After two laps Van Loy caught.
Leaders Van Loy/Cant/Vos/De Boer/Lechner/Brand.
Chasers Nash/Majerus/Miller +11 pic.twitter.com/ljXWp3Wgv1
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) December 26, 2016
Brand pushed hard on the fourth lap, as Czech Katerina Nash, winner last week in round six at Namur, and Marjerus joined the leading gang. Brand’s bid failed and seven riders started the bell lap together, with Majerus just behind.
Nash led the group with Vos poised on her tire. The Dutchwoman slid around the Czech a quarter of the way through the final lap, and stole a gap from Nash and Cant. On a tough, muddy, off-camber little rise only Nash was faultless. Vos forced a gap on the downhill, and held it to the finish line. Vos’s victory means that no elite woman has won more than one World Cup event this season.
De Boer leads Cant by 38-points in the World Cup with two rounds remaining.
In the men’s race, van Aert found Mathieu van der Poel quickly in arrears, with the Dutchman floundering in the first corner. European champion Toon Aerts (Belgium) was van Aert’s companion at the end of Lap 1, the duo nine-seconds in front of a chasing trio.
Van Aert drove on, determined to keep van der Poel far behind. Before the sandy turn, Wout detached Toon, 11-seconds behind after the second of nine laps.
Van der Poel surprised everyone by pitting to change his shoe.
SHOES IT’S ALWAYS THE SHOES AT ZOLDER FOR MATHIEU!!!
— In The Crosshairs (@CXHairs) December 26, 2016
Laurens Sweeck reeled in Aerts, who dribbled off the back and found himself in a podium fight with Michael Vanthourenhout. With five laps remaining, van Aert led Sweeck by 39-seconds, third-place hotting up as Lars Boom and van der Poel drew closer. Geoff Kabush was 41st and Mark McConnell 58th at that point.
With three laps remaining, Sweeck, third in CrossVegas and Iowa, could see was in a second-place fight with Toon and Mathieu. Kabush was moving up.
By the bell lap, Sweeck’s runner-up spot was clear. The podium fight would be the only action at the tail end of the race. Van der Poel accelerated before the off-camber ramp but suffered a terribly-timed front puncture. It would be a podium sprint between Aerts and Kevin Pauwels, with Pauwels continuing his month-long streak of thirds in World Cups, Superprestige and DVV Trophee races.
Van Aert’s big win stops van der Poel’s streak at three straight World Cups round.
— FiuggiCyclocross (@FiuggiCross) December 26, 2016
The next round is in Fiuggi, Italy on January 15.
2016-2017 UCI World Cup Winners
Sept 21 CrossVegas: van Aert, de Boer
Sept 24 Jinglecross Iowa: van Aert, Compton
Oct 23 Valkenburg, the Netherlands: van der Poel, de Jong
Nov 20 Koksijde, Belgium: Cancelled
Nov 26 Zeven, Germany: van der Poel, Cant
Dec 18 Namur, Belgium: van der Poel, Nash
Dec 26 Heusden-Zolder: van Aert, Vos
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Heusden-Zolder Elite Women
1) Marianne Vos (The Netherlands/Rabobank Liv) 44:09
2) Sanne Cant (Belgium/Iko Enertherm-Beobank) +0:02
3) Katerina Nash (Czech Republic/Clif Pro Team) +0:04
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Heusden-Zolder Elite Men
1) Wout van Aert (Belgium/Crelan-Vastgoedservice)
2) Laurens Sweeck (Belgium/Era Real Estate-Circus)
3) Kevin Pauwels (Belgium/Marlux-Napoleon Games)