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Eli Iserbyt claims victory at Hoogerheide World Cup

Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) showed his form ahead of next week’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships after a last-lap attack gave him victory at Hoogerheide. 

The World Cup winner pulled back rival Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) who had led the middle section of the race alone before making his race-winning move on the final lap. 

Pidcock responded in the closing stages, but Iserbyt had enough left to take his 14th victory of the season by two seconds from Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) who sprinted past Pidcock. 

With Michael Vanthourenhout finishing fourth just five seconds behind the winner next weekend’s World Championship in Fayetteville looks wide open. 

Earlier in the race, Pidcock had been handed what looked an unassailable margin when Van der Haar crashed delaying the group of favourites and giving the British rider a clear gap of 20 seconds alone. 

However, Iserbyt continued to chase and drew back to the British rider on the penultimate lap. 

With British rider Pidcock taking second and Dutch European Champion van der Haar in third, Iserbyt says the Belgium team must use team tactics to deny them in America.  

When asked if he expected the same battle next weekend? Iserbyt said: “Maybe, yes. If you see two of us are non-Belgian now we have to make good tactics. I think this has shown who are the best riders this weekend, so I don’t think we have to change a lot for next weekend and put everything on me and maybe Toon (Aerts). 

“We saw in the European Championships that going into a race with five different riders who can win is not the best tactics. 

“Lars (van der Haar) is really good, (Tom) Pidcock is good and we have a chance with our Belgium squad but we really have to aim for one of two riders.”  

Pidcock had been handed a gap on the third lap and felt he ‘burnt too many matches’ trying to maintain his advantage for the whole race. “I think maybe I burnt a few too many matches,” Pidcock added. 

“It was quite hard on my own at the front. They were making mistakes, but it meant somebody new was on the front all the time. I didn’t quite have enough of a gap for the elastic to snap. I was a bit complacent, and Eli (Iserbyt) got a bit of a gap. 

“It’s not the end of the world. Not exactly how I hoped but there’s time to recover a bit this week and everything is to play for next week. There are a lot of people who can win next week. My condition will be good next week, it's fine."

How it unfolded

With the course created by his father Adri, Mathieu van der Poel has won five of the last six events at Hoogerheide. 

Van der Poel was absent on this occasion and is not making the trip to America to defend his title due to a knee injury while Wout Van Aert is also missing the Worlds this year leaving the title wide open. 

The traditional course in Hoogerheide was running quickly in most areas with short grassy banks to test competitor’s strength and also a steep staircase. 

A large field of 61 riders sprinted up the road starting straight with Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) making a perfect start leading while teammate and World Cup winner Eli Iserbyt was further back and narrowly avoided a crash. 

Returning to cyclo-cross after a week training on the road Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) had crashed the previous day while leading on the final lap in Hamme and had to battle back from a slower start finding himself back in 14th. 

European Champion Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) won in Hoogerheide in 2017 breaking van der Poel’s dominance of the event. 

Thriving in the quick conditions, van der Haar was stringing out the field and was sprinting out of each corner in the opening stages to put his rivals under pressure. 

Quinten Hermans (Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team) was the only rider to immediately follow the early attack by van der Haar as the favourites behind moved forward after slower starts. 

After two laps of racing the leading pair led by 11 seconds from a chasing group including all the other favourites. 

Olympic mountain bike champion, Pidcock had moved his way through the field and attacked out of the chasing group in pursuit of the leaders using his technical skills in the wooded section. 

With the pressure on Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) hit a barrier while attempting a bunny hop crashing and lost valuable time. 

After a lap of chasing, Pidcock caught the leading trio and went straight to the front pushing the pace. 

Going into a tight wooded turn van der Haar slid out hard following Pidcock, delaying the chasers and taking down Hermans and Corné van Kessel (Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team), who saw his race ended by a broken chain.  

The crash left Pidcock alone at the front with Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) chasing alone seven second back while van der Haar and Iserbyt were 20 seconds back. 

Dutch rider van der Haar was showing his form pulling back Vanthourenhout with Iserbyt also part of the chase at the halfway distance. 

The switchbacks on the Dutch course allowed Pidcock to see who was leading the chase and how the gap was fluctuating. 

Iserbyt has been a rival of Pidcock since the pair battled as teenagers for under-23 cyclo-cross honours and led the chasing trio in pursuit of the British rider with the gap at 14 seconds with four laps remaining. 

On the soft surface on the lower section of the course Iserbyt was next to slide into the course barriers but maintaining his place in the chasing trio. 

Pidcock was able to dictate his own pace at the front and his consistent lap times saw his lead grow to 19 seconds as he stomped up the short climbs. 

With three laps remaining, van der Haar started to suffer for his early efforts leaving the Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal duo of Vanthourenhout and Iserbyt chasing. 

Just as Pidcock was losing time Vanthourenhout hit the hurdles and crashed leaving Iserbyt alone in the chase of his rival as his teammate fell back to van der Haar. 

Coming into the penultimate lap Pidcock had a lead of six seconds over the quickly closing Iserbyt who could see his rival. 

Iserbyt drew back and then passed his rival Pidcock who had recorded his slowest lap of the race seeing his lead disappear. 

As the pace dropped on the penultimate lap van der Haar and Vanthourenhout pulled back into the battle for victory making a leading group of four riders. 

On the uphill road section taking the ball Iserbyt attacked from the back of the leading group but his competitors were quick to respond. 

The Belgian rider again attacked in the wooded section with van der Haar forced to chase as Vanthourenhout allowed his teammate a slender gap. 

Pidcock was next to chase his rival powering up the short grass climb and then pulling back his Belgium rival in the closing stages. 

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eli Iserbyt (Bel) 1:00:18
2Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) 0:00:02
3Thomas Pidcock (GBr) 0:00:03
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) 0:00:05
5Toon Aerts (Bel) 0:00:54
6Mees Hendrikx (Ned) 0:01:03
7Quinten Hermans (Bel) 0:01:07
8Tom Meeusen (Bel) 0:01:08
9Toon Vandebosch (Bel) 0:01:10
10Laurens Sweeck (Bel) 0:01:20
11Daan Soete (Bel) 0:01:21
12Ryan Kamp (Ned) 0:01:27
13Emiel Verstrynge (Bel)
14Kevin Kuhn (Swi) 0:01:35
15Clement Venturini (Fra) 0:01:48
16Jens Adams (Bel) 0:02:13
17Timon Rüegg (Swi) 0:02:24
18Ben Turner (GBr) 0:02:29
19Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) 0:02:38
20Marcel Meisen (Ger) 0:02:48
21Vincent Baestaens (Bel) 0:02:51
22Thomas Mein (GBr) 0:03:02
23Dario Lillo (Swi) 0:03:03
24Niels Vandeputte (Bel) 0:03:28
25Danny Van Lierop (Ned) 0:03:39
26David Menut (Fra) 0:03:58
27Marek Konwa (Pol) 0:04:02
28Stan Godrie (Ned) 0:04:09
29Michael Boroš (Cze) 0:04:26
30Jakob Dorigoni (Ita) 0:04:38
31Luke Verburg (Ned) 0:04:43
32Yan Gras (Fra) 0:04:51
33Matěj Stránský (Cze) 0:05:02
34Steve Chainel (Fra) 0:05:07
35Joris Delbove (Fra) 0:05:29
36Antoine Huby (Fra) 0:05:46
37Bailey Groenendaal (Ned) 0:05:49
38Gosse Van Der Meer (Ned)
39Lorenzo Masciarelli (Ita) 0:06:03
40Hugo Kars (Ned)
41Matej Ulik (Svk)
42Samuele Leone (Ita)
43Javier Zaera Gisbert (Spa)
44Rémi Lelandais (Fra)
45Théo Thomas (Fra)
46Raphaël Kockelmann (Lux)
47Miguel Rodriguez Novoa (Spa)
48Luca Harter (Ger)
49Filip Mård (Swe)
50Salvador Alvarado (Ned)
51Patryk Kostecki (Pol)
52Jonathan Anderson (USA)
53Pascal Tömke (Ger)
54Mickaël Crispin (Fra)
55Pavel Jindřich (Cze)
56Florian Hamm (Ger)
DNFCameron Mason (GBr)
DNFGonzalo Inguanzo Macho (Spa)
DNFLoris Rouiller (Swi)
DNFCorne Van Kessel (Ned)
DNFJente Michels (Bel)
DNSCameron Jette (Can)

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