The final weekend of January was a very busy one on the cycling calendar with action all over the globe in multiple disciplines. The World Championships in Zolder proved a dramatic close to the cyclo-cross season. On the road, Peter Kennaugh and Amanda Spratt rode to victory in Australia, while Fabian Cancellara, André Greipel and Dries Devenyns found success in Europe.
Catch up with all the racing from this weekend right here on Cyclingnews.
The Cyclo-cross World Championships saw new champions crowned in all five categories with Wout Van Aert and Thalita de Jong claiming victory in the elite races.
Belgium’s Van Aert claimed victory after an enthralling battle with Lars Van der Haar (Belgium). The 21-year-old distanced his rival in the closing stages of the final lap, who appeared to be flagging, taking the win by just five seconds. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) completed the podium a further 30 seconds back.
It almost never happened when he got into a tangle with the defending champion Mathieu Van der Poel at the halfway point. Van der Poel’s foot had become lodged in Van Aert’s wheel when stuck it out to regain his balance on an off-camber corner.
De Jong also had to overcome some serious challenges en-route to her first world title. The Dutch rider had a bad start and had to put in a lot of work to bring the leaders back. De Jong put in some blistering laps the work her way up to the front and followed heavily favoured Sanne Cant when she went on the attack. Cant couldn’t shake the Dutchwoman, and she had no answer when the favour was returned. Caroline Mani (Fra) came home in second with Cant in third.
Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) came up trumps in the men’s under 23 category after Adam Toupalik unwittingly celebrated a lap too early. Britain’s Evie Richards won the first ever women’s under 23 race while Jens Dekker (Netherlands) soloed to victory in the men’s junior event.
Unfortunately for the winners, the race was largely overshadowed by the discovery of a motor in Femke Van den Driessche’s bike.
First up was, the hilliest of the four races that make up the event, the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) started his final season with a bang at the race after infiltrating a successful 23-man break. Team Sky’s new signing Michal Kwiatkowski finished runner-up to take his second consecutive podium placing this week, with Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) in third.
Cancellara held on over the toughest climb of the day the Puig Major before riding clear on the descent, beating Kwiatkowski by 17 seconds.
Andre Greipel bookended his trip to Mallorca with success when he sprinted to victory in a bunch sprint at the Trofeo Playa de Palma. As he had been on the opening day, Greipel was untouchable after a strong lead-out from his Lotto-Soudal teammates. The German beat Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Dylan Page (Team Roth) on this occasion.
A three-man break spent much of the day out front but was reeled in on the flat run into the finish with 30 kilometres still to go. Along with Lotto-Soudal, Bora-Argon 18 had done the work to bring them back as they worked for Sam Bennett, who finished fourth.
After a month of action, the Australian part of the season neared it’s close with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Amanda Spratt continued her run of form by taking a solo victory in the women’s race on Saturday. Spratt made her move with 25 kilometres to go with the help of her Orica-AIS teammates. At nine to go, she had not made much ground and hold had 12 seconds on her chasers but that would extend to 49 by the time she reached the line. Orica-AIS teammate Rachel Neylan crossed the line in second with Dani King (Wiggle-High5) not too far behind.
The win is Spratt’s second major success this season after she became Australian national road champion earlier in the month.
Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) also won alone after an aggressive ride in the men’s race on Sunday to deny the sprinters. A very disappointed Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) finished second with Niccolò Bonifazio scoring third for Trek Factory Racing.
A six-man break spent much of the day out front and it wasn’t until the final 50 kilometres that the real action began to take place. Rohan Dennis (BMC) kicked things off by upping the pace to begin the selection in the bunch. Rafa Valls (Lotto-Soudal) was the next to go and was part of a 12-man group when Kennaugh finally made his move. With 10 kilometres to go, the Team Sky rider had a 20-second gap on the group, which proved just enough when he reached the line.
Dries Devenyns won his first race this decade at the GP la Marseillaise in a two-up sprint against Thibaut Pinot of FDJ which was also IAM Cycling first win of the season. The appointed leader for the day, Heinrich Haussler, suffered a late puncture in the 152.2km race but there was no worry for the team as Devenyns made his move with 45km to race on the Col des Crêtes. FDJ set up Pinot on the following climb, Col de Gineste, joining Devenyns at the head of the race.
On the fast descent into the finish line Pinot found himself in first position with Devenyns jumping off the Frenchman's wheel to take a narrow victory on the line. Wallonie Bruxelles - Group Protect's Baptiste Planckaert won the bunch sprint for third place ahead of Dimitri Claeys (Wanty - Groupe Gobert).
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