The 2018/19 European cyclocross season kicked off last weekend with races in Belgium and Switzerland. It was a good day for the Dutch with Lars van der Haar winning the Gerarrdsbergen race. Belgians Wout van Aert and Daan Soete placed second and third. In Switzerland, David van der Poel took home the victory ahead of Swiss rider Nicola Rohrbach and Belgian Dieter Vanthourenhout.
Most of these riders will be traveling to the US for the first two rounds of the World Cup. This should provide some real insight into who’s going strong and who’s easing their way into the season. How did these two early season races affect the rankings? Time to find out!
- Tim MerlierMerlier was left off our pre-season rankings mostly due to his inconsistent results last season. He is more of a top fifteen rider rather than a top ten. While he does place in the top ten, as he did this weekend, he is just as often racing just inside the top fifteen. Maybe this is a sign of more constancy this season.
- Kevin PauwelsWith a fifth place finish this past Sunday, we were left wondering how we left Pauwels off of our pre-season rankings. At 34, Pauwels may be on the downside of a great career. Last season he just didn’t factor into as many races as expected. We will put him in our rankings, because he put in a good ride and was just off the pace of the leaders.
- Corne van KesselWith a tenth place on Sunday, van Kessel moves up a few spots. We are looking for constancy from him this year and expect him to regularly be in the top ten. It looks like he’s off to a good start.
- Quinten HermansAs we mentioned in our pre-season rankings, we expect Hermans to be a contender this year at many races. Hermans was in the mix in the second group this past Sunday and looked strong. Seventh is his number for now. He was seventh in last weeks rankings and seventh this week, after finishing seventh on Sunday.
- Laurens SweeckSweeck put in a solid sixth place finish this past weekend. Last season Sweeck came out swinging early. It appears that his year he may be easing his way into things. Either way, we do expect to see him at the front of the upcoming World Cups.
- Daan SoeteMoving all the way up from tenth in our pre-season rankings is Soete. We picked him as a rider to watch and he did not disappoint. As a result of his third place finish, he will be a favorite for the podium over the next couple of weeks. Consistency will be key for Soete, as that is something he struggled with last season.
- Toon AertsAs a result of his fourth place finish in Gerarrdsbergen, Aerts drops to fourth in the power rankings. He looked strong, but others were a bit stronger. We still like his early season form and he should land on the podium in at least one of the World Cups.
- Lars van der HaarMoving up from sixth in our pre-season rankings, van der Haar picked up a victory on Sunday in Belgium. He looked very strong and was able to capitalize on a mechanical for Wout van Aert. While that’s not the best way to win the race, a win is a win. Due to Mathieu van der Poel missing out on the US races, van der Haar looks to be the strongest Dutch rider in the upcoming World Cups.
- Mathieu van der PoelFor the man who won every thing except for World’s last year, it comes to no surprise that van der Poel announced he’s delaying the start of his season. As a result, Van der Poel is skipping a trip to America to rest up after a long and hard road and mountain bike season. We think this rest should do him good, despite missing the first two rounds of the World Cup. Despite not racing, van der Poel still remains a force to be reckoned with and will remain high up in the rankings.
- Wout van AertWe would be lying if we said we were surprised that van Aert didn’t win his first race of the season. After all, a van der Poel won his first race of the season. However, van Aert was in the lead when his derailleur broke and had to run to the pits. This most likely cost him the win. On top of that, we like where van Aert’s form is after a long season. He essentially switched from cross to the road without any break. Furthermore, we expect van Aert to shine this weekend at the first round of the World Cup.