The cyclocross season came to a close on the weekend with Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal riders Denise Betsema and Laurens Sweeck securing the final victories of the season in Belgium at the Internationale Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle.
Sweeck crossed the line first in the elite men’s race after a long solo ride out the front, ahead of Quinten Hermans and Lars van der Haar, to take his fifth win for the season. It wasn’t the best start to the race for the Belgian rider, who initially watched the trio of Toon Aerts, Hermans and David van der Poel ride off out the front, but Sweeck caught the group and then quickly went on alone.
"I felt that I had very good legs and I immediately pushed through, yes. Yesterday in Sint-Niklaas it didn't work out. I had no power in my legs, I was not flashy. Today I had all that. And on a circuit like this one that suits me, you know not to wait," said Sweeck.
Sweeck finished fifth at Sint-Niklaas on Saturday, a race which teammate Eli Iserbyt won, but on Sunday it was a clear victory. Sweeck came across the line nearly 20 seconds ahead of Hermans, who will now turn his attention to the road, heading for training camp to prepare for the Ardennes Classics.
In the women’s elite race Betsema took her second victory for the weekend and eighth of the season at Oostmalle. The race started with a break of three, including Betsema, three-time world champion Sanne Cant, and Inge van der Heijden. The trio were for a while joined by Annemarie Worst and Aniek van Alphen, ultimately Betsema and Cant got away together.
Then, around halfway through the race Betsema managed to start stretching out a gap that left Dutch rider with plenty of time to celebrate the final season victory. Cant held on for second while Inge van der Heijden was third.
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