We took last week off to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and take a little break. There are still a bunch of feature articles to come, but we wanted to jump right back in to the things you should know. First, we take a quick look at the North American scene. Then we jump into the Slovakian National Championships and take a look at the European series that had races in the past two weeks. Finally, we take a look at the return of three former World Champions and Gorka Izaguirre’s first ever cyclocross win.
North American quick hits.
With no more races in Canada, the North American season now is all about the lead in to US Nationals on December 15th. Over the past two weeks their were a pair of UCI C2 races. Most of the top riders are taking a bit of a break and gearing up for what promises to be an exciting National Championship.
North Carolina Grand Prix
Kerry Werner picked up a pair of wins at the NCGP on November 23rd and 24th. The Pan-American Champion put over a minute into the rest of the podium on Saturday and Sunday. He finished 1:05 ahead of Eric Tompson on Saturday and 1:06 ahead of Tyler Clark on Sunday. Curtis White and Stephen Hyde took the weekend off to train, while Werner is taking the next two weeks off to prepare for nationals.
On the women’s side, Caroline Nolan picked up the victory on Saturday, while Hannah Arensman won Sunday’s race. Raylyn Nuss finished second both days with Arensman finishing third on Saturday and Samantha Runnels finishing third on Sunday. Nolan and Arensman victories mean that not a single woman has won Day 1 or Day 2 twice in the 12 year history of the event. It also means the last woman to sweep the weekend was Beth Ann Orton in 2014.
Ruts n’ Guts
Michael van den Ham and Lance Haidet swapped places at Ruts n’ Guts this past weekend. Van den Ham out-sprinted Haidet on Saturday. On Sunday, Haidet got away from van den Ham, beating the Canadian by 14 seconds. On the women’s side, Ellen Noble returned to the top step of the podium both days, as she dominated a strong women’s field. Noble has been incredibly open and honest about her struggles on and off the bike this year, so it’s great to see her at the front again.
Slovakian National Championships
Usually we provide as much detail as possible about lesser covered national championships. However, the Slovakian website has not been updated as of today. We may update this article later if need be.
22 year old Matej Ulik won his first national title on Sunday in Trencin. Ulik has followed a very direct pattern. He finished third in 2017, second in 2018 and won this year. It was a very close race with the top five riders separated by less than a minute. Six-time national champion, Martin Haring out-sprinted Simon Vozar for second. Haring won his titles from 2012 – 2017 and has finished on the podium every year since 2011.
Janka Keseg won her sixth-straight, and seventh overall, title on Sunday. The 43 year old beat Tatiana Jasekova and Radka Paulechova. Jasekova came in 43 seconds behind Stevkova, Paulechova finished another 1:46 behind. Because there was no junior or U23 women’s race, eight out of the 13 riders were 18 years old or younger.
Matej Piga improved on his fourth place last year by narrowly beating Jakub Koren to win the Junior Men’s title. Florian Papcun rolled across the line for third.
European series continue to roll along.
Mathieu van der Poel picked up his second straight World Cup victory in Koksijde. The Dutchman dominated the iconic race picking up his third straight victory in Koksijde. Laurens Sweeck finished second ahead of Toon Aerts. Aerts ride pulled him closer to Eli Iserbyt for the overall. Aerts trails by 18 points, with four rounds remaining. Michael Vanthourenhout is in third place, 64 points behind Iserbyt.
Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado picked up her first World Cup victory of the season. She had finished second behind Annemarie Worst in the previous two rounds. Katerina Nash finished in 14th place, keeping her ahead of Anne Kay and Kaitlin Keough in the overall. Alvarado is the highest placed woman who skipped the first two World Cup rounds. She sits in fourth overall, 48 points behind Nash.
In what was a true urban cross race, Mathieu van der Poel picked up his second straight DVV Trofee win in Kortrijk. Tim Merlier out sptrinted Toon Aerts for second. As we have previously mentioned LINK, this series is based on time. The maximum time one can lose in a race is five minutes, this also applies if you don’t race at all. Therefore, van der Poel spotted everyone five minutes by skipping the first round of the series. He currently sits fifth overall, 3:35 back. Eli Iserbyt maintained his overall lead, finishing fifth, 30 seconds behind van der Poel.
On the women’s side, it was another Dutch sweep as Lucinda Brand out-sprinted Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado for the win. Annemarie Worst finished third, another 16 seconds back. Worst still leads the overall, but Yara Kastelijn is only six seconds behind. Alvarado is in third overall, 1:22 behind Worst.
National Trophy Series
The penultimate round of the National Trophy Series (UK) took place on November 24th in Pembrey. The Men’s race was won by Arne Vrachten. Vrachten, who is 20 years old, lead a group of five young Belgian riders who managed to finish in the top-ten. Goose van der Meer finished in second place and was able to pull closer to the overall leader, Ian Field. Field finished in fifth place and leads van der Meer by a mere 13 points.
Britain’s Ffion James took the win in the Elite Women’s race, which marks her first win in the series. Despite missing the second round of the series, James pulled herself incredibly close to current overall leader, Sophie Thackray. Thackray, who finished second, only leads by two points.
Toi Toi Cup
Diether Sweeck became the third Belgian to win a round of the Toi Toi Cup with a win Saturday in Kolin. His (other) brother, Hendrick, finished in tenth place. This was Sweeck’s only Toi Toi Cup race this season, so he is way down the overall. With two rounds remaining, Michael Boros continues to lead the series. However, the gap is closing, with Jan Nesvadba only 11 points behind. Tomas Paprstka is in third overall, only two points behind Nesvadba.
Pavla Havlikova picked up her third straight Toi Toi Cup race on Saturday. As a result, she moves into third place overall, six points behind Terexa Vanickova. With two races left in the series, the top five are only separated by 12 points. Like the Superprestige, the point differential between places is relatively small, so it will be a great battle to the end.
SMP Master Cross
The International Ciclocross selle SMP-11°Trof.Cop.ed.Brugherio82 in Brugherio, Italy played host to round three of the SMP Master Cross series. Jakob Dorigoni took the win in the Elite Men’s race. Despite skipping the first round of the series, Dorigoni’s win moved him into fourth overall. Nicolas Samparisi continues to lead the series with a fifth place finish on Sunday. With two rounds left, he leads Filippo Fontana by four points. The gap to Cristian Cominelli in third place is 21 points, so it looks to be a two-man race.
On the women’s side, Sara Casasola took the win ahead of Rebecca Gariboldi. It was Casasola’s second consecutive victory in the series. She trails the overall leader, Alessia Bulleri, by six points. 18 year old Asia Zontone struggled on Sunday, but still sits third overall, ten points behind Casasola.
Multiple former World Champions announce their return.
Seven-time World Champion Marianne Vos has announced her 2019/20 cyclocross schedule. She will return to action this weekend with Ethias Cross in Essen. After racing a full slate of races last season, Vos is back to a reduced schedule this season. She will race a total of seven races between Essen and the World Championships. Those seven races include three rounds of the World Cup in Namur, Heusden-Zolder and Hoogerheide.
Three-time World Champion Zdenek Stybar will also return to cross in Essen. Like Vos, he’s racing a reduced programme of only eight races. Like last year, he will be racing the bulk of the Kerstperiode along with a few other races. He will do a doubleheader this weekend with Essen and Superprestige Zonhoven. He will then race Waaslandcross Sint-Niklaas (December 21), Zolder World Cup (December 26), the Azencross in Loenhout (December 27), Telenet Superprestige Diegem (December 29), Cyclocross Bredene (December 30) and the GP Sven Nys in Baal (January 1).
The much anticipated return of three-time World Champion Wout van Aert will occur on December 27th, with the DVV Trofee round in Loenhout. It will mark his first race since crashing in stage 13 of the Tour de France this past July. Van Aert will be racing in special Jumbo-Visma colors as he continues to be sponsored by Cibel-Cebon, Caps and Domo. His full schedule has not been released, but hopefully he will race a few World Cups and the World Championships before heading back to the road.
Gorka Izaguirre get his first cyclocross win.
Astana’s Gorka Izaguirre picked up his first ever cyclocross victory in Abadiño, Spain on Saturday. Izaguirre has raced at the World Tour level since 2010. He beat Ismael Aguando by 25 seconds. Kevin Suarez finished third, another 19 seconds back. Last year, Izaguirre did not finish the only cross race he entered. It was his first cross race in the 2007/08 season.
Izaguirre has had 32 professional podium appearances on the road. He’s won a stage in the Vuelta twice (both a TTT) as well as a Stage 8 in the Giro d’Italia in 2017. In 2018, he became the Spanish National Road Race Champion. Known mostly as a domestique, Izaguirre finished fourth overall in the 2017 edition of Paris-Nice. Most recently, he was ninth at the World Championships in September.