Michael Vanthourenhout wins elite men's race in Tabor

Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) won the opening round of the 2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on Sunday in Tabor in the Czech Republic.

After a two-way battle against his teammate Eli Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout proved strongest of the two on the last lap and took a solo victory. Iserbyt finished in second place at five seconds back while Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) finished 14 seconds back in third.

The World Cup series will only include five rounds this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus beginning in Tabor and then moving on to Namur on December 20, Dendermonde on December 27, Hulst on January 3 and concluding in Overijse on January 24. 

Van Aert made his return to cyclo-cross the day before the World Cup at the X²O Badkamer Trofee – formerly the DVV Trofee – in Kortrijk on Saturday, where he placed third behind winner Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen) and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise). He then travelled by plane, along with several other riders, to Tabor to compete in the World Cup on Sunday.

The elite men’s race fielded 40 athletes from 10 nations, and 10 of those participants are from Belgium including Van Aert and Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout along with Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen) and Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise).

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) did not take the start line but his Dutch compatriots racing included Lars van der Haar, Corne van Kessel (Tormans) and his brother David van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

Van Aert started in the third row in Tabor but slowly made his way to the front after the furious start from the tarmac onto the grass course. A crash on the second lap took down Sweek but a front group formed to include Van Aert, Iserbyt, Van der Haar, Vanthourenhout, Aerts, Van Kessel, and slightly further back were Quinten Hermans (Tormans) and Daan Soete (Group Hens-Maes Containers).

In similar strategy to the previous day’s race in Kortrijk, Vanthourenhout went on the attack and opened a clear gap on the chasers and held a 13-second lead on the fifth of eight laps.

The move forced Van Aert to the front of the chase group, but on the sixth lap, Iserbyt made a strong attack to try to close the gap to his teammate Vanthourenhout alone.

Iserbyt rode a 7:33-minute lap on the sixth lap and reconnected with Vanthourenhout at the start of the seventh lap. Iserbyt remained on Vanthourenhout’s wheel for a brief recovery as his teammate did most the pace setting heading into the final lap. Isberyt took the lead as the pair raced through the finish line for the bell lap.

Behind the two leaders, Van Aert and Aerts continued to chase and held the gap at 14 seconds, while Van der Haar was distanced at at additional five seconds back and Soete at another 25 seconds back.

In the first few hundred metres of the last lap, Iserbyt bobbled and lost contact with Vanthourenhout but it didn’t take long for the him to catch back up.

Van Aert put everything into the final laps and distanced Aerts after the Telenet Baloise rider crashed in the mud. Despite his efforts, however, Van Aert was not strong enough to close the gap to the two leaders Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout.

Vanthourenhout led the race through the final sections, over the barriers and attacked up a small hill, but he couldn’t get rid of Iserbyt. He attacked again and gained a bit more of a gap as Iserbyt desperately chased his teammate trying too stay in contention for the final.

Vanthourenhout kept the pressure on and accelerated over every climb and tricky section in the closing metres of the race, putting Iserbyt into difficulty, and he gained just a few seconds needed to claim the victory in Tabor, leaving Iserbyt to settle for second and Van Aert third.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 1:02:43
2Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:00:05
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:12
4Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:00:18
5Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:00:21
6Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:00:51
7Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:01:01
8Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:01:05
9Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:01:27
10Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads 0:01:42
11Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:01:49
12David Menut (Fra) Cross Team Legendre 0:01:50
13Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:01:58
14Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:02:03
15Jakob Dorigoni (Ita) Selle Italia-Guerciotti-Elite 0:02:05
16Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta-Skoda Alecar CX Team 0:02:06
17Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing 0:02:11
18Joshua Dubau (Fra) 0:02:18
19Timon Rüegg (Swi) 0:02:46
20Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:58
21Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team Legendre 0:03:06
22David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:03:10
23Gioele Bertolini (Ita)
24Stan Godrie (Ned) 0:03:44
25Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes 0:03:45
26Michael Boroš (Cze) 0:03:51
27Yan Gras (Fra) AAA Sörius 0:03:53
28Gilles Mottiez (Swi) 0:04:03
29Gosse Van Der Meer (Ned) 0:04:06
30Mario Junquera San Millan (Spa) 0:04:39
31Aurélien Philibert (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team 0:04:59
32Maik Van Der Heijden (Ned) 0:05:34
33Lucas Dubau (Fra) 0:05:43
34Daniel Mayer (Cze) 0:05:59
35Mickaël Crispin (Fra) Cross Team Legendre 0:07:15
36Mathieu Morichon (Fra) 0:10:10
37Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes
38Frederik Hähnel (Ger)

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