In spite of a terrible start, 20-year-old Kacper Szczepaniak (Poland) bounced back in the mud of Hoogerheide to drop all the favourites in the final laps and take the final round of the Under-23 Cyclo-cross World Cup. Belgian Tom Meeusen was unable to keep up with Szczepaniak, but his second place was more than enough to secure the overall win in the International Cycling Union's (UCI) World Cup presented by Safety Jogger.
Szczepaniak unstoppable after slow start
Winning in Hoogerheide was the last thing on Kacper Szczepaniak's mind after a disastrous first lap, which he finished together with US under-23 Champion Danny Summerhill in 26th position, more than half a minute from the early leader Corne Van Kessel.
However, from the second lap onwards Szczepaniak got going and he started to consistently clock the fastest lap times. In front, Arnaud Jouffroy (France) as leading the race together with Tom Meeusen, though they had just a three second buffer over chasers Tijmen Eising, Jim Aernouts and Jan Denuwelaere.
The duo realized they couldn't get away and after three laps more riders had joined the front, to create an eight-man leading group that featured Jouffroy, Belgians Meeusen, Jan Denuwelaere, Jim Aernouts, Joeri Adams, and Dutch riders Eising and early leader Van Kessel. Szczepaniak launched his comeback and after four laps he joined the front group together with compatriot Marek Konwa and Lubomir Petrus (Czech Republic).
Once Szczepaniak reached the front of the race he continued his efforts as leader's group stretched out in his wake. Meeusen and Aernouts hung on but, during the penultimate lap Szczepaniak was able to create the decisive break. Behind the Polish rider Meeusen controlled affairs in the small first chasing group that featured fellow Belgian Van Compernolle and Jouffroy at five seconds from the leader.
By clocking the fastest lap time of the race on the final lap, Szczepaniak stamped his authority on a well-deserved victory. Meeusen made it a long sprint and he claimed second place ahead of Jouffroy and Van Compernolle. Marek Konwa finished fifth at twenty seconds from his compatriot, Szczepaniak. Kacper's older brother Pawel - who has recently signed a contract with the Baboco-Revor squad - finished tenth a joined the Polish party at the finish line.
While winner Kacper Szczepaniak moved up from his 26nd place after one lap, US-champion Summerhill remained more or less in the same position. Summerhill was joined by compatriot Zach McDonald during the fourth lap and the two remained together until the finishing straight where McDonald bested Summerhill and claimed 29nd place. Jerome Townsend finished 36th and Luke Keogh was 41nd.
|1||Kacper Szczepaniak (Poland)||0:48:36|
|2||Tom Meeusen (Belgium)||0:00:09|
|3||Arnaud Jouffroy (France)||0:00:11|
|4||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Belgium)||0:00:13|
|5||Marek Konwa (Poland)||0:00:20|
|6||Tijmen Eising (Netherlands)||0:00:36|
|7||Joeri Adams (Belgium)||0:00:38|
|8||Jim Aernouts (Belgium)|
|9||Micki Van Empel (Netherlands)||0:00:39|
|10||Pawel Szczepaniak (Poland)||0:00:45|
|11||Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands)||0:00:48|
|12||Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands)||0:00:49|
|13||Lubomir Petrus (Czech Republic)||0:00:50|
|14||Jan Denuwelaere (Belgium)||0:00:53|
|15||Cristian Cominelli (Italy)||0:01:06|
|16||Robert Gavenda (Slovakia)||0:01:13|
|17||Sascha Weber (Germany)||0:01:16|
|18||Jiri Polnicky (Czech Republic)||0:01:22|
|19||Matteo Trentin (Italy)||0:01:25|
|20||Twan Van Den Brand (Netherlands)||0:01:33|
|21||Matthieu Boulo (France)||0:01:41|
|22||Karel Hnik (Czech Republic)||0:01:49|
|23||Matthias Rupp (Switzerland)||0:01:52|
|24||Valentin Scherz (Switzerland)||0:01:53|
|25||Ole Quast (Germany)||0:02:36|
|26||Marcel Meisen (Germany)||0:02:59|
|27||Mattias Nilsson (Sweden)||0:03:09|
|28||Elia Silvestri (Italy)||0:03:15|
|29||Zach Mcdonald (United States Of America)||0:03:23|
|30||Daniel Summerhill (United States Of America)||0:03:26|
|31||Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)||0:03:30|
|32||Yu Takenouchi (Japan)||0:03:33|
|33||Kobus Hereijgers (Netherlands)||0:03:38|
|34||Irwin Gras (France)||0:03:50|
|35||Jan Büchmann (Germany)||0:03:51|
|36||Jerome Townsend (United States Of America)||0:03:52|
|37||Lukas Winterberg (Switzerland)||0:03:56|
|38||Edwin Arts (Netherlands)||0:04:02|
|39||Maurits Lammertink (Netherlands)||0:04:06|
|40||Kevin Smit (Netherlands)||0:04:21|
|41||Luke Keough (United States Of America)||0:04:22|
|42||Michael (Jr) Schweizer (Germany)||0:04:37|
|43||Naran Khangarid (Mongolia)||0:04:48|
|44||David Menger (Czech Republic)||0:05:01|
|45||Vincent Baestaens (Belgium)||0:05:12|
|46||Fabian Danner (Germany)||0:05:25|
|47||Baasankhuu Myagmarsuren (Mongolia)||0:05:40|
|48||Hikaru Kosaka (Japan)||0:06:25|
|49||Kamil Gradek (Poland)||0:06:34|
|50||Geert Van Der Horst (Netherlands)||0:06:43|
|51||Dario Stauble (Switzerland)|
|52||Melvin Rulliere (France)||0:07:00|
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