Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) held on for second ahead of teammate Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions), both of whom suffered mechanicals on the penultimate lap.
“This victory feels so good," said Hermans. "I was really motivated to prepare this cyclocross winter, because last year a crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné ruined the beginning of my season 2020-2021. This year, I marked these first World Cups as my first main goals of the season. So I'm happy that it worked out! I appreciate this moment a lot, especially after a difficult year."
It might have been Hermans' first World Cup victory as an elite but not the first on US soil - the Belgian won the Trek CX Cup in 2018, and carried the momentum of a third place at the Waterloo World Cup on the weekend and a second place at the Superprestige in Gieten before the trip across the Atlantic.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the results come after Hermans' first WorldTour season with Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux and the completion of his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia - a feat that often transforms riders to a new level.
The race took place in torrential rain from a tropical storm that drenched the 2022 Cyclo-cross World Championships circuit in Fayetteville, giving the riders a view of the course at its worst with deep mud pits and slick off-camber descents making for treacherous riding.
As in Waterloo on the weekend, Hermans took the hole shot ahead of Aerts and Waterloo winner Iserbyt. Also in the mix was Vanthourenhout, Daan Soete (Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes), Corne van Kessel (Tormans) and Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek).
The pits came into play on the first lap as riders fine-tuned their tyres and pressures after finding the soggy, heavy bogs. Gage Hecht (Aevolo) was the top American in 12th at the start of the second lap and he continued his forward movement to eighth by the end.
It was all Belgium, all the time, at the front, however, as the mud experts pushed the limits of traction. Aerts led the way on lap two with Hermans as Iserbyt appeared to be outside of his comfort zone and lost touch. It was early days and Vanthourenhout dropped back to help Iserbyt get back on.
The strategy paid off and Iserbyt, Vanthourenhou, Aerts and Hermans ended lap two with 20 seconds on a group of eight led by Van Kessel and Thomas Mein (Tormans).
On the third lap, the climb began to bite as Hermans rode it and Iserbyt was forced to run. Hermans sensed an opportunity and surged to open a larger gap as Aerts went into the pits for a fresh bike and Vanthourenhout bided his time behind his teammate. On the run-up, Hermans carved out more time and went into the fourth lap with a solid 21 seconds over the three chasers.
By lap four, Hermans had extended his gap, looking powerful and smooth on both the technical portions of the course and the run-up, taking a fresh bike for the second half of the race as he held 35 seconds over his rivals. Alpecin-Fenix's Neils Vandeputte, Ronhaar, Toon Vandenbosch (Pauwels Sauzen), Hecht, Soete and Jens Adams were in a group over a minute back.
The chase group was down to two after Vanthourenhout had a mechanical on lap five. Meanwhile, Iserbyt and Aerts were losing even more ground at 44 seconds.
On the penultimate lap, Vanthourenhout jammed his chain and had to stop - it appeared his race was over. But he got back on and passed Aerts, who also suffered problems, and closed in on Iserbyt. But the climb was the domain of the smaller man, and Iserbyt surged away to seal second place.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:54:55|
|2||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:37|
|3||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:49|
|4||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:21|
|5||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:33|
|6||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:01:40|
|7||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:01:44|
|8||Gage Hecht (USA) Aevolo|
|9||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:54|
|10||Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:01|
|11||Daan Soete (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes||0:02:02|
|12||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:11|
|13||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:15|
|14||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:02:18|
|15||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin - Fenix||0:03:01|
|16||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:08|
|17||Davide Toneatti (Ta) DP66 Giant||0:03:10|
|18||Curtis White (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld||0:03:23|
|19||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:31|
|20||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:04:01|
|21||Eric Brunner (USA) Aevolo||0:04:06|
|22||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:04:17|
|23||Lorenzo Masciarelli (Ita) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:04:19|
|24||Lance Haidet (USA) L39ion of Los Angeles|
|25||Kerry Werner (USA)||0:04:21|
|26||Gosse van der Meer (Ned)||0:04:59|
|27||Michael van den Ham (Can)||0:05:24|
|28||Scott Funston (USA)||0:05:56|
|29||Brody Sanderson (Can)||0:06:06|
|30||Andrew Dillman (USA)||0:06:46|
|31||Brannan Fix (USA)||0:07:04|
|32||Ben Frederick (USA)||0:07:10|
|33||Caleb Swartz (USA)||0:07:20|
|34||Stephen Hyde (USA)|
|35||Sam Noel (USA)|
|36||Matt Leliveld (Can)|
|37||Andrew Strohmeyer (USA)|
|38||Lief Rodgers (Can)|
|39||Scott Mcgill (USA) Aevolo (USA)|
|40||Felipe Timoteo Nystrom Spencer (CRc)|
|41||Hugo Brisebois (Can)|
|42||Yannick Mayer (Ger)|
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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