Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) proved his strength in the sand powering away on the Koksijde dunes to take victory in round seven of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.
The Belgian was locked in a battle with rival Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) before riding away on the penultimate lap on an uphill sand section. Aerts was caught by the chasers and Laurens Sweeck beat him in a sprint finish resulting in a one-two for Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal.
It was Iserbyt’s 11th victory of the season and a weekend double after winning in Merksplas the previous day.
“It feels great and I didn’t expect it in the beginning,” said Iserbyt. “It was a hard race. I just rode my own race, my sections were either good or very bad. I’m happy I had very good sections where I could ride uphill and I’m very proud of that.”
It was Iserbyt’s fourth World Cup victory of the season from seven rounds and he now leads the overall standings by 69 points.
“There are still nine races left so a long way to go,” added Iserbyt. “I just want to take the day victory and then the overall will come.”
It was the third time in as many events Aerts has finished third in Koksijde. “I hope to change that one time,” added Aerts.
How it unfolded
Last year’s event at Koksijde was cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with the winner of the last three editions Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) absent on this return occasion. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) also decided not to start in Koksijde due to recovering from a cold and lost ground in the overall World Cup series.
Rain fell on the Belgium coast between the elite women’s and men’s events adding the complication of wet grass along with the sand challenges.
Quinten Hermans (Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team) put in a quick start on the asphalt and then a powerful effort through the long Herygers Dune sand section to give himself a slender gap. However, a mistake by Hermans on an uphill sand section, which he tried to ride, allowed the leading group to come back.
The slippery mud at the bottom of the sand dunes took victims on the opening lap as Iserbyt crashed and brought down European champion Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions), while Laurens Sweeck also slid out on the same section. That crash allowed Hermans to keep his lead with Toon Aerts in close attendance ahead of the chasing pack.
Winds and rain swept across the Koksijde course making for gruelling conditions and slippery corners between the steep sand dunes. A tentative opening two laps in difficult conditions saw a large group of 11 riders gather at the head of proceedings.
Van der Haar had recovered from his first lap crash and forced a powerful pace through the Herygers Dune while Iserbyt showed a sign of weakness by having to run the end section.
Aerts was keen to pass Iserbyt coming into the next sand section coming alongside and almost forcing his rival into a barrier as the large leading group remained together at the midway point.
The battle between Aerts and Iserbyt forced the pace on the fourth of seven laps reducing the leading group to six riders. Aerts showed his sand skills and was able to ride the Herygers Dune section which had Iserbyt running landing an early psychological blow.
Iserbyt, Aerts and Hermans were joined by Van der Haar, Sweeck and Corné Van Kessel (Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team) at the head of proceedings.
As Iserbyt struggled to ride the Herygers Dune it was Aerts who once again skillfully passed his rival but could not establish a gap.
World Cup leader Iserbyt was finding his technique on some sand sections and forced Aerts to chase by riding three sections which his rival ran. The battle between the rivals distanced them from the rest as Hermans took a bike change dropping back to the chasing duo of Van der Haar and Sweeck six seconds back with two laps remaining.
The chasers fought their way back into proceedings on the following lap with Hermans leading them back into contention. Iserbyt again rode one of last uphill sand sections of the lap and as Aerts ran a winning gap was formed with just over a lap remaining.
At the bell Iserbyt led by eight seconds from Hermans, Sweeck and Aerts while Van der Haar was a few seconds further back. Behind Iserbyt, the chasing trio jostled for position coming into the sand as Aerts looked to power back across to the lone leader.
However, the World Cup leader kept his calm on the final lap maintaining his eight-second advantage. Sweeck had been sitting back allowing teammate Iserbyt to build a winning gap before sprinting to second place with Aerts in third.
Iserbyt now holds a healthy lead of 69 points when the World Cup continues next Sunday for round eight at Besançon in France.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:57:00|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:04|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:00:07|
|4||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:00:14|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:00:17|
|6||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:00:54|
|7||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:01:05|
|8||Daan Soete (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:01:06|
|9||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Iko - Crelan||0:01:18|
|10||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:01:32|
|11||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:37|
|12||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:50|
|13||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin - Fenix||0:01:59|
|14||David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:02:18|
|15||Tom Meeusen (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:02:22|
|16||Cameron Mason (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:02:25|
|17||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:56|
|18||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:06|
|19||Thibau Nys (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:03:34|
|20||Lander Loockx (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:03:45|
|21||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:03:57|
|22||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:04:04|
|23||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa)||0:04:15|
|24||Théo Thomas (Fra) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:21|
|25||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team||0:05:12|
|26||Bailey Groenendaal (Ned)||0:06:31|
|27||Nathan Bommenel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:06:46|
|28||Lubomír Petruš (Cze)||0:07:00|
|29||Aurélien Philibert (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team Gecibat|
|30||Joseph Blackmore (GBr)|
|31||Ben Chilton (GBr) Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus|
|32||Cyprien Gilles (Fra) Team Fima - Cyrpeo Alian|
|33||Mathieu Morichon (Fra) Team Royalbikeshop.Com|
|34||Toby Barnes (GBr) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|35||Matéo Jot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team Gecibat|
|36||Hugo Kars (Ned)|
|37||Sébastien Havot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team Gecibat|
|38||Lukas Herrmann (Ger) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|39||Cameron Jette (Can)|
|40||Raphaël Kockelmann (Lux)|
|41||Isaac del Toro Romero (Mex) A.R. Monex CX pro Cycling Team|
|42||Sean Nolan (Irl)|
|43||Florian Hamm (Ger) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|44||Nicolas Bard (Swi)|
|45||Carlos Alfonso Garcia Trejo (Mex) A.R. Monex CX pro Cycling Team|
|46||Marco Carozzo (Ita)|
|47||Hugo Jot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team Gecibat|
|48||Leonardo Rafael Zavala Pantoja (Mex) A.R. Monex CX pro Cycling Team|
|49||Diego Arreola Dimas (Mex) A.R. Monex CX pro Cycling Team|
|50||Bruno Camarena de Leon (Mex) A.R. Monex CX pro Cycling Team|
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