Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea) made it two out of two as he won the second round of the UCI World Cup, named Jinglecross and held in Iowa City, USA. The Belgian triumphed over Wout Van Aert after the world champion made a mistake early on lap six of the eight-lap race.
Van Aert finished second, 51 seconds down. Meanwhile, 1:16 behind Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) took third place after a long battle with Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions).
The two 24-year-olds Van Aert and Aerts were locked in battle alone up front for much of the race, having broken away at the end of the first lap. It looked like the pair were saving their big efforts for the final laps, despite pulling out a substantial lead over the chasers. But two laps from the finish, Van Aert made a mistake, getting bogged down in thick mud.
Aerts took advantage, ploughing on alone to make the mistake really count to his advantage. It was an error Van Aert wouldn't recover from. Further back, Vanthourenhout and Hermans were similarly inseparable – until Vanthourenhout went for it heading into the final lap.
"In the second half of the race Wout made a mistake," said Aerts after his win. "That was my chance to do a little effort and take some seconds in front. The gap got bigger and bigger so I had to make no mistakes, keep the pace high. I did that, and in the end the gap was big enough to win."
Meanwhile, Van Aert said that his late-race performances would need investigating.
"It's the second time in one week that I feel like losing my energy level in the second half of the race," he said. "It's not easy to accept and we'll have to see if we can find a solution to that because it's not really useful.
"It was a difficult section there. In the lap that Toon went away I struggled a bit and lost 10-20 metres and afterwards I wasn't able to catch back with him."
Aerts unsurprisingly leads the World Cup standings after two wins in two rounds. He has 160 points to Van Aert's 140, while Hermans lies third on 120. The entire top ten, save Dutchman Corne Van Kessel, is made up of Belgians.
How it happened
On lap one it was Waterloo World Cup winner Toon Aerts leading the way, unafraid to get his new World Cup leader's jersey dirty on the muddy course.
Though an elite group of seven formed with him, by the end of the lap only Aerts and world champion Wout Van Aert were up front. The duo enjoyed a five-second advantage over the chasers – Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal), Hermans and Lars van der Haar (both Telenet Fidea Lions).
They pushed on together, widening the gap to 19 seconds at the end of lap two, with the pair of Vanthourenhout and Hermans together behind. Meanwhile, Tim Merlier (Marlux-Bingoal), van der Haar, Corne Van Kessel (both Telenet Fidea Lions) and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) lay 34 seconds back.
Despite a shoe problem for Van Aert on the second lap, he stuck right with Aerts. It was already clear that the duo would be fighting it out for the win.
Van Aert took up the pacemaking after Aerts pitted for a new bike on lap three, having sat behind his countryman up to that point. Midway through the race, their advantage was 24 seconds over Vanthourenhout and Hermans, and a minute to the next group on the road.
Early on lap four, Vanthourenhout attacked in his bid for third on the podium, gapping Hermans. The pair would soon be reunited, however, relocked in their battle for the final podium spot.
Up front, the big moment of the race came when Van Aert ran into issues at the start of lap six. Racing through some thick mud, he picked a different line to Aerts and having to put a foot down, ceding time to the Pauwels Sauzen man.
Heading onto the penultimate lap, Aerts was 16 seconds ahead of Van Aert, having pushed on after Van Aert's mistake. Just over a minute down, Vanthourenhout and Hermans resumed their battle.
Aerts would only have to avoid disaster on lap eight, his advantage over Van Aert growing metre by metre. Further back, Vanthourenhout powered ahead of Hermans, looking like he just had that bit of extra form to put him over the top and get onto the podium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Toon Aerts (Bel)||1:02:28|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel)||0:00:52|
|3||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:01:16|
|4||Quinten Hermans (Bel)||0:01:32|
|5||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:02:06|
|6||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:02:13|
|7||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||0:02:16|
|8||Eli Iserbyt (Bel)||0:02:21|
|9||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:32|
|10||Daan Soete (Bel)||0:02:35|
|11||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned)||0:02:40|
|12||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||0:03:01|
|13||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel)||0:03:29|
|14||Steve Chainel (Fra)||0:04:03|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel)|
|16||Matthieu Boulo (Fra)||0:04:12|
|17||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:04:28|
|18||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:04:40|
|19||Thijs Aerts (Bel)||0:04:59|
|20||Sieben Wouters (Ned)||0:05:09|
|21||Gage Hecht (USA)||0:05:22|
|22||Kerry Werner (USA)||0:05:36|
|23||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:06:05|
|24||Fabien Canal (Fra)||0:06:36|
|25||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:07:07|
|26||Alois Falenta (Fra)||0:07:19|
|27||Curtis White (USA)|
|28||Michael Van Den Ham (Can)|
|29||Ian Field (GBr)|
|30||Anthony Clark (USA)|
|31||James Driscoll (USA)|
|32||Cody Kaiser (USA)|
|33||Garry Millburn (Aus)|
|34||Tobin Ortenblad (USA)|
|35||Eric Brunner (USA)|
|36||Eric Thompson (USA)|
|37||Grant Ellwood (USA)|
|38||Bjorn Selander (USA)|
|39||Lance Haidet (USA)|
|40||Justin Lindine (USA)|
|41||Gunnar Holmgren (Can)|
|42||Cooper Willsey (USA)|
|43||Jack Kisseberth (USA)|
|44||Nicholas Diniz (Can)|
|45||Isaac Niles (Can)|
|46||Trevor O'donnell (Can)|
|47||Cameron Jette (Can)|