5 conclusions from Week 2

Last week we may have gotten out of control with our ridiculous conclusions from Go Cross. So, we’ve decided to dial it back a bit and come up with some real conclusions from Week 2 of the 2019/20 season. This past weekend there was another round of UCI racing in the United States (Rochester) as well as the unofficial start to the season in Europe with a C2 race in Eeklo, Belgium. With the first rounds of the World Cup right around the corner, tbe Rochester race had multiple European riders who wanted to get to the US early and collect some UCI points (Rochester was a C1/C2 weekend). Below are our five conclusions from week 2:

Stephen Hyde is still the man to beat

Last week we saw a glimpse of the future as Kerry Werner and Curtis White battled it out in Virginia at Go Cross. We may have predicted that they would dominate this weekend in Rochester, and to our credit White did win on day two. With that said, Stephen Hyde looked very good and is clearly still the man to beat in the United States.

While we could debate the value of pointing out the “top American” in the World Cup and other international races, we still think it is a thing to note. We will save that debate for another time.

Hyde finished third in Saturday’s C1 race in Rochester and was the top American rider. On Sunday, he was third again, behind American Curtis White and Belgium’s Diether Sweeck. Both races were very tight. On Saturday the top ten riders were separated by just over a minute with Hyde coming in 22 seconds behind the winner. On Sunday it was even closer with Hyde losing the sprint to Sweeck as both riders finished six seconds behind White.

At 32, Hyde is one of the older riders in the North American peloton. However, he made it clear this weekend he still has what it takes to compete with the best. White and Werner are part of a younger generation that are starting to hit their stride, but Hyde is the National Champion for a reason.

It’s a good time to be a Sweeck

With racing in both Europe and the United States, the “battle of the brothers” kicked off this weekend. There are four sets of brothers that we will be following this year. Perhaps the most famous pair are Mathieu and David van der Poel. Mathieu will not be in action until November, so for now David will have to pick up the slack. Usually David skips the US rounds of the World Cup and races in Switzerland, where he won the EKZ CrossTour last year.

Tom Meeusen was in action this weekend in Eeklo where he finished eighth. It was a respectable result for the Belgian as he heads to the United States for the World Cups. His younger brother, Ruben, has not started his season yet. Ruben is a junior, so with no junior race at the US World Cups, he will stay in Belgium and race there. The Vanthourenhout brothers were in action in Eeklo as well this past weekend. Michael came out on top with a sixth place finish after riding in the lead group all day. His older brother Dieter finished a respectable 15th.

Finally there are the Sweeck brothers. They are the winners of the weekend with Laurens winning the race in Eeklo and his twin brother, Diether, finished second both days in Rochester. Their lesser known brother Hendrik was not in action this weekend and will start his season next Saturday in Vorselaar (a non-UCI race).

Maghalie Rochette owns Rochester

For the second consecutive year, Rochette won both days in Rochester. She accomplished the same feat last year after finishing as the runner up both days in 2017. The Pan-American Champion looked very strong. She won by 30 seconds on Saturday, and over a minute on Sunday. As of right now, she looks like the top North American rider, but with Katie Compton absent, that title may still be up for grabs. Last year she finished ninth in the world cup race in Iowa City, but was unable to finish in Waterloo. Barring any issues, she should be in the top-ten both days this year.

European racing is still exciting 

One of our questions about the European season was if the racing would still be exciting. The consolidation of teams, particularly in the men’s field, left us wondering what may happen. If the racing continues to be like what we saw in Eeklo, then there are going to be some great races this year.

Eli Iserbyt jumped out to an early lead in the men’s race and after that chaos ensued. There were only four riders in the top-twenty that were not on Telenet Baloise Lions or Pauwels Sauzen-Bingol. However, that did not stop the attacks, and team tactics began to play out as groups continued to split and reform. We saw teammates opening up gaps and others dragging their leaders across them. In the latter laps, we saw some aggressive cornering and positioning amongst the lead riders. It was exciting to the very end where Laurens Sweeck was able to edge past Iserbyt in the final sand section and grab the victory. It was great racing and leaves us hungry for more.

“Mr. Europe” shows good form in his return to the US

Vincent Bastaens returned to the US this year to start his 2019/20 campaign. He did so with a bang, winning Saturday’s C1 race in Rochester and finishing fourth on Sunday. Basestaens last raced in the US in 2017 where he competed in the first two rounds of the World Cup.

What makes Baestaens so interesting is that he is one of the most traveled European riders. Last season he raced in eight different countries and was the runner up in Spain’s national series. By comparison, Mathieu van der Poel raced in five different countries last season. Baestaens was not selected for the worlds team, otherwise he would have had nine. With the addition of races in the US, Bastaens could approach the double digits in terms of countries raced in. His form was good in Rochester, so it will be interesting to see how that translates into the World Cup rounds.

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