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September 15/19 10:21 am - Rochette Wins Cross World Cup Opener

Posted by Editoress on 09/15/19

Canadian and Pan American continental champion Maghalie Rochette (Specialized - Feedback Sports) took the first UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup win of her career on Saturday at the opening round of the series in Iowa at Jingle Cross.  It was a day of firsts, as Belgian Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Rochette both claimed their first Elite World Cup victories. Rochette's victory is the first World Cup win for Canada and marks the first time a Canadian will lead the series.

In the women's race Inge Van Der Heijden (CCC - Liv), Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) and Rochette set the early pace before Rochette crashed over the bars in the sand section. After quickly remounting, Rochette worked her way to the front and slowly began to distance Van Der Heijden. With the gap continuing to grow, it was Katerina Nash (Clif) who took up the chase and bridged to Rochette, along with American Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX).

With two laps to go, it was Honsinger pushing the pace, but it would be Rochette forging ahead after a blistering run up Mt. Krumpit. Behind, Nash and Honsinger chased with Nash pulling to within six seconds of Rochette on the final lap. However, Nash's efforts wouldn't be enough to deny Rochette her first World Cup victory. Honsinger would finish third for her first World Cup podium.

"This is a dream come true," said Rochette. "I have been dreaming about this for a long time - I am a big dreamer and when I started Cyclo-cross I initially set my goals and my mind on wanting to win a World Cup and to be one of the best. I just believed it was possible - it means the world. I am super happy, but more importantly, I am super grateful because I did not do this alone. The run up on Mt. Krumpit was a key section of the race for me. I realized on the first lap that I was running it a bit faster and so I took advantage. That is where with two laps to go with Clara and Katerina on my wheel, I decided that I was just going to go full gas. I got a little gap and was able to hold until the end."

"It feels pretty amazing to win the World Cup here in Iowa. I've had this race on my mind for a long time. All summer I was training with that in mind and it was a big goal for me.

"It's a little bit funny. I've dreamed so many times of winning a World Cup and I really believed I could do it. However, when it actually happened, I couldn't quite process it, and couldn't quite believe it happened. I think it's starting to sink in now ... it feels very special, yet I know it doesn't change anything! Life goes on, you know. But for now, I'm enjoying it.

"Over the years, I sometimes had little glimpse of good performances that allowed me to believe I could one day win a World Cup. Many times, I felt like in training I had the level to make it happen, but I was never able to put it together in a race. Racing is not just about physical abilities, and I struggled so much about the mental side of it. I had so many horrible races, so many disappointment over the years. But the people around me encouraged me to keep working hard, to keep showing up ... and I think that's why I was so emotional at the finish today. There are a few times I wanted to give up, but luckily I did not, and today, I was able to put it together and we won a World Cup. And I say 'we' because although I'm the one pedalling, there are many people who were a part of this (David, my family, all our partners, etc). I would have given up long ago if it wasn't for all of them, and I'm so grateful for them.

"Having the chance to become the World Cup leader is just the cherry on the cake. I'll be very proud to wear that jersey in the race next week. Some amazing racers - people I have tremendous respect for - have worn that jersey, so it's pretty cool to wear it too."

In the men's race, last year's winner Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) and Iserbyt quickly distanced themselves and by the end of Lap 2 had a gap on the rest of the field. Despite the pace, a five man chase group caught the leading duo just before the halfway point. In addition to Arets and Iserbyt, the lead group contained Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), Luarens Sweek (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) Gianni Vermeerch (Creafin- Fristads) and Quinten Hermans (Telenet Baloise Lions). The group didn't stay together for long, with Hermans and Sweek quickly dropping back before Aerts powered up Mt. Krumpit on lap six distancing everyone except Iserbyt. With just over three laps to go, Iserbyt started to apply pressure and pulled out a 20-second gap with only two laps remaining. Iserbyt's lead continued to grow, and he eventually crossed the line 56 seconds ahead of Aerts. Soete completed the podium in third.

"It has not sunk in yet, but it's really big," said Iserbyt of his victory. "Besides the world championships, it is one of the biggest races of the year. I think it will sink in this evening. I was looking forward to this race since the end of last season because I had a hard time here the last two years and I am really happy that I am on this level now. On Mt. Krumpit, I knew I had the advantage because I am 55-kilos - I am not that big. Toon set a really high pace at the start of the race and at the top of the climb, I think he was over his limit so I took advantage. I got a little gap and just held my pace."



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