Week eight of the cyclocross season kicked off with a mid-week race on the 17th at Kermiscross Ardooie in Belgium. This past weekend, there were eight races in six different countries. In the US, there were two days of UCI C2 racing in Washington, DC with DCCX. Sweden featured a pair of C2 races as well. There was also a C2 race in Austria and Italy. However, all eyes were on Saturday’s Superprestige in Boom and Sunday’s World Cup race in Bern. It was an action packed week with a different rider winning every race. The only exception was Wieste Bosmans, who won both races in Sweden.
Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
Rebecca Fahringer is on fire.
This past weekend, Rebecca Fahringer won another pair of UCI races at DCCX. This marks four straight wins for Fahringer, who won both races last weekend at Charm City Cross in Baltimore, MD. In addition to four straight UCI C2 victories, Fahringer picked up the victory in the Union Craft Brewing – Rapha Parkway CX Trophy Series.
This marks Fahringer’s fifth win of the season. She won the first day of Vriginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross in August. Since then she has had a pair of podium appearances in Virginia and Rochester. She was fourth at the C1 in Rochester and 10th at the C1 at Jingle Cross. In addition to those stellar results, she had a pair of top-ten finishes in the first two rounds of the World Cup.
Fahringer spent almost all of January and February racing in Europe at the end of last season. That experience has clearly paid off, as she has already had more wins this year than last year as well as her best World Cup finishes ever. Unlike the men, the top North American women have split up a bit this weekend with several women heading to Europe. Saturday’s C1 in Cincinnati should see a return of some of those riders and will be another true test for Fahringer.
There’s a woman’s youth revolution in Europe.
This past weekend saw a lot of young women reach the podium in Europe. This is very interesting given the women’s fields in both Europe and North America have multiple riders in their late 30’s and early 40’s. When looking at the top 100 riders in the UCI rankings, there are 11 riders 35 years or older, including four riders in their 40’s. The top placed rider is Ellen van Loy, who is 12th overall and 39 years old. Compare that to the men’s top 100 where there are nine riders 35 years or older and only three in their 40’s. Steve Chainel is the highest placed rider, in 33rd place. With all that said, this weekend was all about the young women.
The most obvious example of this was the women’s podium in Bern. The third round of the World Cup produced the youngest ever World Cup podium for women, with the average age 21 years, 304 days. In Italy’s Il Melo Cup, eighteen year old Asia Zontone picked up the victory. Six out of the eleven riders in the race were 18 years old or younger.
At the two C2 races in Sweden, the young women also dominated the podium. Saturday’s race in Täby Park saw 23 year old Suzanne Verhoeven pick up the win. In third place was 18 year old Mari Hole Mohr. Sunday’s race in Stockholm had a very similar outcome with Verhoeven taking the win. This time, 22 year old Mi Bjorndal Ottestad finished in second, while Mohr was fourth.
In Austria the Tages de Querfeldeinsports was won by 22 year old Nikola Bajgerova, with 18 year old Blanka Vas finishing second. Like the race in Italy, this race featured a lot of young riders. 50 percent of the field was 18 years old or younger.
With no UCI category for 17-18 year old women and virtually no U23 UCI Women’s races, it’s no surprise that young riders are racing in the elite category. It’s the only option they really have. What’s nice is to see that these young ladies are starting to compete with the best in the world.
Toon Aerts finally gets a win, but Iserbyt is still the man.
Toon Aerts picked up his first victory of the season in Boom. The second round of the Superprestige series saw muddy conditions and technical descents lead to a tough race for all. Aerts spent a bit of the race chasing before finally pulling a head to win by eight seconds over his teammate Quinten Hermans. Thomas Pidcock came in 17 seconds behind Aerts in third. Aerts has been remarkably consistent, only missing the podium twice this year, however a win has eluded him thus far. At this point last year, he had two wins and five podium finishes.
With that said, several riders were absent in Boom as they prepared for Sunday’s World Cup race. Most notably ascent was Eli Iserbyt. Iserbyt picked up right where he left off by dominating the race in Bern. Iserbyt has swept the series thus far, by winning all three rounds of the World Cup. Aerts has finsihed second in all three races. In fact, Aerts hasn’t finished a head of Iserbyt in any race this year. Iserbyt continues to lead the World Cup and looks unstoppable at this point.
As we have discussed previously, missing a round of the Superprestige makes it virtually impossible to win the overall. Despite his victory on Saturday, Aerts lies fourth overall, six points behind Quinten Hermans. Hermans has finished second at both Superprestige races. Iserbyt dropped to ninth overall, 13 points behind Hermans. With Aerts struggling in the first round of the Superprestige and Iserbyt skipping the second round, it has opened things up. However, with the third round of the series coming up on Sunday, we expect Iserbyt to continue his winning ways.
Stephen Hyde is the best American man in the mud.
This past weekend, Stephen Hyde picked up his first victory of the season in a very muddy race in Washington, DC. Curtis White opted to skip DCCX, so the heavy favorite was Kerry Werner. Werner finished first and second last weekend. Hyde finished a distant third on both days last weekend, so he was the most obvious threat to Werner.
Saturday’s race was dry and fast. It came down to a sprint finish with Werner out sprinting Hyde and Drew Dillman. However, on Sunday, things changed drastically. Heavy rain hit the area in the morning and continued throughout the day, turning the course into a muddy mess. Cyclocross Television (aka CX Hairs) has highlights from day two that show how much of a mess it was. In the end, Hyde prevailed, finishing 42 seconds ahead of Werner and 1:35 ahead of Cody Kaiser. It was a dominating performance from the US National Champion.
There have been three truly muddy races in North America this year. The first was the World Cup in Waterloo, the second was day two of FayetteCross, and the third was day two of DCCX. Hyde was not in FayetteCross, but did compete in the World Cup in Waterloo. He ended up third out of the three aforementioned riders, but was in the mix the whole race. Obviously, a World Cup is incredibly different than a normal US race, but Hyde clearly has an advantage in the mud.
If we circle back to last year, we need to look no further than the US National Championships. Hyde and White got out to an early lead in some of the muddiest conditions we have ever seen. Hyde pulled away from White late in the race, beating him by 27 seconds. Werner came in sixth at 3:05 behind Hyde. It would have been interesting to see where White would have slotted in this past weekend, but for now, Hyde is the man in the mud.
The hype (part one) is over.
We spent the first few weeks of the season talking about the absence of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. The topic has been deliberately avoided because we wanted to focus on the real racing. After all, if you don’t show up, you’re not part of the race. The only real mention of van der Poel was in our “Brothers Rankings” and comments made by Eli Iserbyt last week.
Back in September we reported that van der Poel would start his season on November 1st at Koppenberg Cross. Reports surfaced last week that van der Poel may race Kiremko Nacht van Woerden tonight. However, he made it official over the weekend, announcing his return November 3rd at Superprestige Ruddervoorde. The hype is finally over. We have a confirmed return date and we will see how the World Champ fairs.