It was another weekend of great cyclocross action in both North America and Europe. FayetteCross served up a pair of C2 races in Arkansas. Meanwhile, in Europe, there were six races. Belgium hosted a pair of smaller races in Meulebeke and Pelt. The National Trophy Series continued in Milnthorpe while the EKZ CrossTour invaded Aigle. The final pair of races took place in Hlinsko, Czech Republic and Rokova, Slovakia.
Here are our conclusions from this past weekend:
Hopping the barriers is not a given.
In this day and age, barrier hopping has become part of the norm in elite level cross. With few exceptions, elite men always hop the barriers. However, this past weekend showed us that it’s not a given. It’s a skill that must be mastered and even the best can make a mistake.
On Sunday, Lars van der Haar totally bailed on his attempt to hop the barriers midway through the race. He unclipped as he went over the first barrier and basically dove over the second barrier. He then grabbed his bike and kept going.
On Saturday, Eli Iserbyt hopped the first barrier and as he landed his front wheel went sideways and he flipped over the handlebars. His left shifter was bent, but more importantly he slammed his thigh into the handlebars. Iserbyt could be seen rubbing and checking his thigh throughout the next half lap. He was bale to recover and finished second. A few laps after Iserbyt crashed Xander Geysels crashed in a very similar fashion. Unfortunately, Geysels was pretty banged up and was carried off the course by medical personnel.
This just shows that hopping the barriers isn’t guaranteed to go right, no matter who you are.
The Chilean Nationals were a bit crazy.
While technically this race happened two weekends ago (September 29th), we just saw the results and decided to dissect them a little bit. We scoured the internet (UCI website, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and couldn’t find any information regarding the race. No pictures, no descriptions, no reports, nothing. Over the years, we have seen National Championships in countries that don’t really have the infrastructure for cross produce some very unique results.
In this case it appears that the men’s race was very hard. We assume it was because of course conditions (most likely mud), but no matter what the men’s race completely exploded. Esteban Gallo Florido picked up the win finishing nearly three minutes ahead of Gabriel Moraga Vega. Anton Lama Mena rounded out the podium finishing nearly four minutes behind the winner. Noticeably absent from the was was Esteban Salazar Perez who was the two-time defending champion.
The women’s race was a much closer affair with Fernanda Castro Gonzalez beating Denisse Munoz by 16 seconds. There was no U23 race, but there was a junior men’s race, won by Felipe Villagra Fuenzalida. It was the first national championship for all three riders.
North Americans men’s cross has incredible depth.
This past weekend America’s top cross riders headed to Arkansas for FayetteCross. Kerry Werner, Curtis White, Gage Hecht and many others lined up to tackle a brand new course at a brand new venue. The only notable rider who was missing is US National Champion Stephen Hyde. Hyde opted to take the weekend off before entering another big block of races. We expected Werner and White to dominate the weekend. While both riders each won a race (in dramatically different conditions), it was the shuffling of the top-ten that surprised us. There is clearly some great depth amongst North American men.
While White and Werner landed on the podium both days, not a single person ended up in the same position on Sunday as they did on Saturday. The biggest jump was Logan Owen. His return to cross netted him a tenth place finish on Saturday and fourth on Sunday. As previously mentioned Werner and White both finished on the podium. They swapped positions with Werner winning on Saturday (White was third) and finished third on Sunday (White was first).
The rest of the top-ten shuffled around quite a bit. Gage Hecht was fourth on Saturday and finished second on Sunday. The rest of the riders in the top-ten on Saturday finished inside the top-ten on Sunday. The only exception is Cody Cupp. Cupp finished seventh on Saturday and 16th on Sunday. Allan Schroeder, who finished 15th on Saturday, finished tenth on Sunday.
All in all, it was a great weekend of racing in Arkansas. As the racing and results showed, there are about half a dozen riders who are capable of reaching the podium on any given day.
The Belgian men owned the weekend.
We previously discussed the Belgian domination of World Cup races, but this past weekend the Belgians proved that they’re the best across Europe. There were six different UCI races in Europe. Belgians took the top step in five of those races. The only exception was the National Trophy Series Round 2 in Milnthorpe. Ian Field won that race in dominant fashion. No Belgians were in that race, so that means that a Belgian won every race they entered this past weekend.
Braam Merlier took the top spot at the Toi Toi Cup round in Hlinsko. In perhaps the biggest race of the weekend Michael Vanthourenhout took the win at Berencross Meulebeke. With all the fire power Belgium had in that race, it is no surprise that Belgians took the top four places. On Sunday, Braam Merlier took the top step again at the Grand Prix Rakova. The only C1 race of the weekend was EKZ CrossTour Agile. Vincent Baestaens picked up the win there, while Dieter Vanthourenhout finished third. Finally on Sunday, Belgium took the top two steps of the podium at the GP Pelt. Laurens Sweeck was first, Quinten Hermans was second. Lars van der Haar ended up third on the day, breaking up the Belgian domination that saw them take seven out of the first ten places.
The Dutch women dominated the weekend.
Like the Belgian men, the Dutch women dominated European racing this past weekend. They took the top step in four of the six races. The only race without a Dutch woman was the National Trophy Series race. That race was all British riders with one rider from Ireland. The other race the Dutch failed to win was the C1 race in Switzerland. Their best placed rider, Mascha Mulder, finished 13th.
At the Toi Toi Cup race, Geerte Hoeke took the win by nine seconds. She was the only Dutch woman in a 33 rider field. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado picked up the win in a sprint finish in Meulebeke. The Dutch took the top four spots in that race. Like Braam Merlier, Hoeke backed up her performance in Hlinsko with a win in Rakova. Once again, Hoeke was the only Dutch rider in the field. Del Carmen Alvarado also did the double this past weekend by picking up a win in Pelt on Sunday.The Dutch women swept the podium in that race as well.