The DVV Trofee kicks off Friday, November 1st, with Koppenberg cross and wraps up on February 8th in Lille. Once again, the series consist of eight races, all of which are in Belgium. The most unique thing about the series is the overall is based on time. Much like a stage race, the winner is the person with the fastest time across all eight races. The most a rider can lose is five minutes. They are also docked five minutes if they miss a race. Mathieu Van der Poel has won the last two editions for the elite men, Niels Derveaux won the U23 class, while Sanne Cant won the elite women’s class.
There are minor schedule changes this year.
Like last year, the DVV Trofee kicks off in Oudenaarde and ends in Lille. However, races in Ronse and Kortrijk replace last years rounds in Niel and Antwerp. The race in Kortrijk is a brand new race. It’s an “urban cross race” with the finish on top of the Groeningebrug. Spectators should be able to view the entire track from that vantage point. The race will cross the Leie river twice meaning plenty of sand and elevation changes. It should be a great addition to the series.
The race in Ronse, better known as Hotondcross, has been around for over a decade. It has been a C1 for the past six years and was won last year by Mathieu van der Poel. Two years ago it was part of the series, where Lars van der Haar picked up the win a head of van der Poel and Wout van Aert.
The race in Antwerp will not completely disappear, as it is the course for the Belgian National Championships in January.
The Toyo Tires Quick Start will have a huge impact.
As we mentioned, the DVV Trofee has been based on time for the past seven years. This year, they are introducing the Toyo Tires Quick Start, which is a brand new concept to the sport of cross. In previous years, riders were able to gather time bonuses at the Toyo Tires Sprint. This occurred after roughly one and a half laps. This year, there are bonuses of 15, 10 and 5 seconds for the top three riders who get the hole shot. Former World Champion Erwin Vervecken thinks it will produce some surprising starts. Both Belgian champion Toon Aerts and Jens Adams are firmly behind it as well. Adams also mentioned that this will be incredibly interesting for the start of the Koppenberg race.
Will we have repeat winners?
Both Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant are looking to extend their overall series winning streaks this season. Van der Poel is going for his third straight win, while Cant is going for her seventh overall win. She has won five out of the past six editions of the series. Katie Compton’s win in the 2017/18 edition broke up Cant’s streak.
Van der Poel will have a tough road ahead of him. He was originally scheduled to race all the rounds of the series, however he recently announced he will be skipping the first race. As we mentioned in the intro, this means he will start the second race of the series five minutes down on the leader. Last year van der Poel beat Toon Aerts by 1:26, while Michael Vanthourenhout finished 5:50 behind. In his worst result of the season, van der Poel lost the first round by 4:12 to Aerts. Without getting too deep into the math, if van der Poel were to win every race (minus Koppenberg), like he did last year, he could still win the series. It’s based on time, so he will have to dominate, but he picked up five plus minutes in seven races last year on Aerts. So it can be done.
Cant beat Loes Sels by 1:35 last year, with Nikki Brammeier in third, 5:03 back. Cant struggled at Koppenberg cross and only won two rounds of the series. It was her consistency that brought her the overall title. She missed the podium in three of the rounds last year and looks to improve on that. Her season thus far has been just that, so her result tomorrow will set the tone for the series.
There is increased opportunities and support for the women.
While we wouldn’t consider any of the European based series truly progressive, the DVV Trofee has been a rare bright spot in its support for women’s racing. While the support has been intermittent, they have in the past offered a junior women’s race and equal prize money at a few rounds. Most, if not all, of this was driven by Helen Wyman. Her persistent efforts, along with those from across the cross community, have really impacted the DVV Trofee this year. In addition to offering equal overall prize money, they are offering a junior women’s category.
To be fair, the Superprestige did implement an equal prize payout for the overall as well. From this season on, all the prize money for the men’s and women’s elite overall will be equal. 70,000 Euros will be split between the top-15 riders in the final ranking. The winner of both the men’s and women’s overall will win 25,000 Euros. Second place get 15,000 and third get 10,000. There’s a significant drop off after that, with the final four spots winning 500 Euros. According to the DVV, the UCI asked them to equal the payout for just the top three, but they, along with the Superprestige, offered to equal the payout for all places.
Unfortunately, the DVV Trofee is only offering four races for the U19 (Junior) Women. However, that’s more than any other series, especially in Europe. Those four races will count towards an overall classification. The series offered a race for junior women in Loenhout last year. This year they will also offer races in Ronse, Baal and Brussels. The series will follow suit with the other races in that it will be based on time and the Toyo Tires Quick Start will also be in effect.
All in all, this is a great improvement for women’s racing and the future of the sport.
The United States women return.
Despite the retirement of Elle Anderson, the United States will still have two participants in the series. 15-time US National Champion Katie Compton returns along with fellow American Katlin Keough. Compton captured the overall in the 2017/18 edition. Compton beat Maud Kaptheijns and Nikki Brammeier by 6:21 that year. This is the third year in a row that Compton has received a contract for the series. Katlin Keough also received a start contract and is slated to do seven out of the eight races. This is Keough’s first time racing a primarily European schedule. It will be interesting to see how the two Americans do.