Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) continued his dominance of the cyclo-cross World Cup after winning a race-long battle against Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions).
A penultimate lap crash for Aerts after putting his rival under pressure gave Iserbyt the slender advantage he required to take victory.
Despite sliding down a steep descent and dropping his chain on the last lap, Iserbyt had enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.
Under-23 world champion Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) celebrated his first elite podium finishing third after a battle with Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).
The victory saw Iserbyt's extend his overall advantage in the World Cup series to 79 points at the midway point of the 16-race series.
"I found the good legs today and I think Toon (Aerts) did as well," said Iserbyt. "The crowd was amazing and the race was very hard. I just tried to follow and maybe get a gap on the last two laps.
"After a mistake by Toon, I knew I just had to ride my own pace and that was enough for the win today. You have to stay calm especially with this kind of track and the crowd. When you are too excited you start to make mistakes.
"I made some mistakes and in the last few sections I had a big mistake. I'm happy with the win. You just have to stay calm the entire race, make your own tactics and stick to it."
When Aerts crashed on the penultimate lap he almost brought down Iserbyt with his leg as the Belgian tried to remount his bike on the slippery descent.
"Maybe it was a stretched leg," added Iserbyt "I saw him but it was a very difficult section of the race and maybe he was sliding a lot. I don't think it was intentional.
"I hope not. I knew I had to get before him when he crashed and that was important."
Meanwhile, Ronhaar said his third-place finish was a 'big suprise'.
"I didn't expect to be third today," he said. "A podium spot today is unbelievable. I like specific cyclo-cross races in the mud and climbing races which suit me."
How in unfolded
Besançon, France hosted its first ever World Cup event with cold conditions and a course consisting of slippery descents along with short and steep banks greeting riders.
Not taking the start was European champion Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) who had suffered a crash before the previous day’s Urban Cross forcing him to sit out both events. Also, amongst those that did not travel to France was World Cup second round winner Quinten Hermans (Tormans-Circus).
A fast start in the men’s race saw the leading group of favourites gather quickly at the head of proceedings led by under-23 rider Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal). The off-camber descent which troubled the women earlier in the day saw Kevin Kuhn (Tormans-Circus) slide out.
After winning the previous day in the Urban Cross in Kortrijk, Aerts forced the first lap pace. A bike change for Aerts allowed Iserbyt back to his rival and the pair went side by side up the steep banks.
Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal pair Toon Vandebosch and Michael Vanthourenhout both suffered mechanical problems on the second lap losing time as Aerts continued to force the pace.
Ronhaar led the chasing group 25 seconds behind the leading duo after the second lap along with Belgian riders Laurens Sweeck ((Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Vandebosch
Like his team-mate Lucinda Brand in the women’s race Aerts was looking to ride his own lines through the French mud and gestured at a photographer who had ventured onto the course blocking his line.
Sweeck suffered a mechanical problem snapping his shoe on the netting on a slippery section of the course losing valuable time in the podium battle and giving Ronhaar a small gap ahead of the chasers. Iserbyt also had trouble sliding off his bike while trying to remount following a bike change but not losing time on Aerts.
After riding his way back from a frantic opening to the race Corné Van Kessel (Tormans-Circus) joined Vanthourenhout, Vandebosch and Kamp in the chase behind Ronhaar.
Vanthourenhout had recovered from his first lap mechanical problems and bridged back up to 20-year-old Ronhaar in the battle for third. At the head of proceedings Iserbyt used his change of pace to put Aerts under pressure at the midway point but his rival quickly responded.
Searching for his first elite World Cup podium Ronhaar continued to challenge the more experienced Vanthourenhout 45 seconds behind the leaders. Meanwhile, Aerts kept the pressure on Iserbyt powering through the mud only for his rival to match his pace.
The cold conditions and heavy rain were starting to effect riders as Iserbyt showed signs of feeling the temperature with two laps remaining. Aerts capitalised using his running speed to force a gap on the steps and then looking back to see his rival once again respond under severe pressure.
However, just as the Baloise Trek Lions rider thought he had cracked his Belgian rival Iserbyt pulled back the gap on a technical section. Pushing the pace too far Aerts fell to the ground while trying to dismount on a slippery corner and then struggled to regain his footing giving Iserbyt an advantage of eight seconds.
The crash resulted in Aerts’ shoes coming loose and Iserbyt led by four seconds at the last lap bell while the battle for third between Ronhaar and Vanthourenhout continued 1:35 behind. Iserbyt maintained his pace forcing a larger gap which he would need in the closing moments.
Coming into the last technical section the Belgian slid back down a muddy banking and then after regaining his footing dropped his chain, but had forced enough of a gap to hang on to victory.
Aerts finished 10 seconds behind his rival, while a last lap attack by Ronhaar saw him take third place 13 seconds ahead of Vanthourenhout.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||1:03:47|
|2||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:00:10|
|3||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:44|
|4||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:57|
|5||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:19|
|6||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:02:21|
|7||Tom Meeusen (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:02:27|
|8||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:31|
|9||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin - Fenix||0:02:40|
|10||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:42|
|11||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa)||0:02:43|
|12||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:44|
|13||Lander Loockx (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:02:53|
|14||Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:57|
|15||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers||0:03:03|
|16||Jente Michels (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:03:14|
|17||Loris Rouiller (Swi) Alpecin - Fenix||0:03:45|
|18||Joshua Dubau (Fra)||0:04:24|
|19||Théo Thomas (Fra) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:27|
|20||David Menut (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:04:32|
|21||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:35|
|22||Gioele Bertolini (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite||0:04:40|
|23||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:04:47|
|24||Tony Periou (Fra) Team S1neo Loudeac||0:04:51|
|25||Antoine Huby (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:05:27|
|26||Martin Groslambert (Fra) Team S1neo Loudeac||0:05:48|
|27||Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:06:08|
|28||Yan Gras (Fra) Team Podiocom CC||0:06:23|
|29||Clement Alleno (Fra)||0:06:38|
|30||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Iko - Crelan||0:06:44|
|31||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:07:13|
|32||Rémi Lelandais (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:07:33|
|33||Gilles Mottiez (Swi) Cross Team Legendre||0:07:49|
|34||Lubomír Petruš (Cze)||0:08:00|
|35||Gosse van der Meer (Ned)||0:08:11|
|36||Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes||0:08:21|
|37||Lucas Dubau (Fra)||0:08:43|
|38||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes|
|39||Timothé Gabriel (Fra)|
|40||Gabriel Fede (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite|
|41||Noé Castille (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|42||Heinrich Haussler (Aus)|
|43||Matteo Oppizzi (Swi)|
|44||Pascal Tömke (Ger) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|45||Florian Richard Andrade (Fra)|
|46||Hannes Jeker (Swi)|
|47||Filippo Agostinacchio (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite|
|48||Philippe Mancinelli (Ita) Cycling Cafe Racing Team|
|49||Samuele Leone (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite|
|50||Sebastian Roman Rakos (Chi)|
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