The second weekend in January always features the bulk of the National Championships. With a few exceptions including North America, South America, Australia and a few select European nations, all the top riders return to their home nation to battle it out. There were 18 National Championships this past weekend and while we won’t dive into all the results, we have picked a few things to highlight. First we tackle the Elite Women’s race in the Netherlands and who is the favorite for Worlds. Then we touch on the Belgian Elite Men’s race before we jump into some fun stats about young riders on the podium and riders who repeated as champions. Finally we touch on the 12 Junior Women get the first ever UCI sanctioned National Championship.
Note: there are a lot of titles given out this weekend. As usual, we are focusing on the Elite Men and Women, but we do throw in the Junior Women at the end.
The Dutch Women threw down in Rucphen and we have a firm favorite for Worlds.
One of the most consistent narratives all season has been the Dutch women’s domination across Europe. It goes without saying that the winner of the World Championships in February will most likely be Dutch. The real question is what Dutch woman will come out on top. In our predictions, we thought that Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado would win. In fact, we nailed the entire podium. With that said, we truly believed that there were a half dozen riders who could land on the podium.
In terms of Worlds, look at it this way: The Dutch have won every European round of the World Cup. Alvarado currently leads the overall and the Dutch occupy six of the top ten spots. In the Superprestige series, Alvarado once again leads the overall and the Dutch are in the top three spots. Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy) is the only non-Dutch rider to win a round of the series. As you can imagine, the DVV Trofee is much of the same. Alvarado leads the overall, with the Dutch occupying the top three spots. With one round in the series remaining, all the races have been won by a Dutch woman.
Needless to say, our hunch for Worlds is backed up with some incredible stats.
Finally, there were two big pieces of news coming out of nationals. Marianne Vos, who finished fifth, announced that she will be ending her cross season. Vos has a lingering groin issue and is going to get it taken care of. On the bright side, Alvarado changed her mind and will be racing with the Elite Women at Worlds. This was her last chance to grab a U23 title, but she is foregoing that opportunity and will come into worlds as a heavy favorite.
An exciting race from the Belgian men leads to an unexpected winner.
Let’s get this out of the way: we love Laurens Sweeck. We had him on our podium and gave real thought to giving him the top spot. However, over the past few weekends, he has simply faded from the front group. At the same time, Eli Iserbyt has made his way back to the front and seemed to be the only one capable of challenge Mathieu van der Poel. Finally, there was some hype around Wout van Aert and Toon Aerts, some of which we believe and some of which we didn’t.
So that leads us to race day. Toon Aerts goes from the gun and the rest of the top Belgian riders fall inline and things look like we expected. Iserbyt is there and looks strong. Wout van Aert is in the mix, but seems to, more or less, just be hanging around. Tim Merlier, Laurens Sweeck and a few others are right up there. There’s a few splits in the lead group, but eventually things come back together. This is exactly what we expected. Then Iserbyt goes clear. We were thinking this is it, he’s gone, the title is his. However, the lead group reels him back in and right as they hit the reset button Sweeck takes off.
At this point, we still thought we had this thing predicted correctly. Aerts, Merlier and van Aert will bring him back and things will reshuffle one last time. However, what we saw was a struggling van Aert, a tired Aerts, and Sweeck looked like a machine. The gap kept growing and growing and he was gone. It was awesome to watch and in the end, we were right? Sort of? Ok, now you can call us out on it, but we swear we had him on our list.
While it wasn’t the duel we expected it was a great race nonetheless. No one went swimming, the pace was on from the gun and all the heavy hitters took their shot.
One last note, and this has nothing to do with our predictions being secretly right. Wout van Aert announced that based on his fifth place and his upcoming schedule he most likely will be at Worlds. With an expected very flat course, perhaps his road power will keep him close once again.
The young guns lite it up in Britain and throughout Europe.
As Tom Pidcock came across the line in Shrewsbury, Great Britain, everyone was simply amazed at the masterful performance the 21 year old put in. He beat Ben Tulett (19 years old) by over two minutes. However, the real story began to unfold in the following minutes. Cameron Mason (20 years old) came across the line in third, making it one of the youngest podiums ever. Behind Mason, three more riders 21 years old and younger rolled across the line.
The real story coming out of this race was not just Pidcock’s domination, but the youth movement for the Elite Men in Britain. Because of Pidcock’s destruction, only 15 riders finished on the lead lap. Nine of them were 21 or younger. Clearly, this is something to watch. To be fair, the average age of eighth through eleventh was 41 years old, so there’s hope for the elder statesman.
Looking across the results, it wasn’t just the Elite Men in Britain that stole the show. Five of the Elite Men’s and Women’s podiums had all riders under the age of 25. With an average age of 20 years old, the British Elite Men, led the way. Below is a table of the five aforementioned podiums ranked by average age.
|British Elite Men||Tom Pidcock |
|Ben Tulett (19)||Cameron Mason (20)||20|
|Hungarian Elite Women||Kata Vas (19)||Adel Horvath (21)||Tamara Laszlo (21)||20.3|
|Austrian Elite Women||Lisa Pasteiner (21)||Nadja Heigl (24)||Cornelia Holland (18)||21|
|Croatian Elite Men||Viktor Potocki (21)||Matija Miestric (23)||Antonio Barac (23)||22.3|
|Dainsh Elite Men||Sebastian Carstensen (25)||Jonas Lindberg (23)||Lasse Laugesen (24)||24|
We know what you are wondering…the award for the most experienced podium goes to the Swedish Elite Women. Maria Erlandsson (46) led the way with Anna Persson (49) finishing second and Anna Eriksmo (42) coming across the line in fourth. Before we do the math for you, let’s be honest, these women could crush us in a cross race. This is more of a fun little experiment. The answer is 46, if we round up.
20 riders pick up another National Championship.
There were a total of 36 National Championship jerseys up for grabs this past weekend (18 Elite Men and 18 Elite Women). Twenty of those jerseys went to previous winners. Sanne Cant and Christine Majerus continued their impressive streaks, while for many others it was their second or third in a row. Below is a table, in order of National Championships won, to highlight the repeat winners.
|Rider||Country||Current Streak||Total Titles|
|Pavla Havlikova||Czech Republic||4||7|
|Rider||Country||Current Streak||Total Titles|
|Mathieu van der Poel||Netherlands||6||6|
Twelve Junior Women get the first ever UCI sanctioned National Championship.
This year is the first year that the Junior Women is an officially recognized UCI category. They will compete for the first ever Junior Women’s World Championship this year in Dubendorf. While some countries, such as the United States, have had Junior Women championships before, this is the first time the category is being recognized by the UCI. Prior to this weekend, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States have awarded jerseys to Junior Women. In addition, both the European and Pan-American Championships had official Junior Women’s races.
Below is a chart of the podiums for all 12 races this past weekend.
|Belgium||Julie de Wilde||Julie Brouwers||Mirthe van den Brande||The difference between first and third was 32 seconds. This was the tightest race.|
|Britain||Millie Couzens||Josie Nelson||Anna Flynn||Couzens is one of three 16 year olds to win a title.|
|Croatia||Anja Nadu||Ida Trstenjak||n/a||With only two riders, this was the shortest race at 33:27.|
|France||Line Burquier||Olivia Onesti||Lauriane Duraffourg||The youngest podium with the average age 16 years, 10 months, 6 days.|
|Germany||Clea Seidel||Sunny Geschwender||Johanna Theobald||Seidel’s margin of victory (3:04) is not surprising as she was the only rider in the field with UCI race experience.|
|Italy||Lucia Bramati||Carlotta Borello||Nicole Pesse||Bramati has raced a full season of Elite races and was the only rider to finish inside the top-ten at one of them.|
|Luxembourg||Marie Schreiber||Lis Nothum||Julie Keller||Along with Croatia and Germany, all riders finished on the lead lap. However, there were only 3 riders in the race.|
|Netherlands||Shirin van Anrooij||Puck Pieterse||Fem van Empel||At 20 seconds, this was tied with Belgium as the smallest margin of victory.|
|Poland||Patrycja Zawierta||Olga Wankiewicz||Natalia Krzeslak||At 4:48, this race had the closest margin of riders finishing on the lead lap.|
|Spain||Lucia Gomez||Ainara Albert||Lydia Pinto||Largest field with 25 starters.|
|Sweden||Felicia Andersson||Iza Hardelin||Amanda Mikaelsdotter||This was the longest race at 47:18|
|Switzerland||Nicole Goldi||Melissa Rouiller||Fabienne Kipfmuller||Highlights of the race can be found here: https://youtu.be/Qbzzy9Muaco|
Photo: Andy Whitehouse