Posted by Editoress on 10/11/21
The Cyclo-cross World Cup opened on Sunday in Waterloo, Wisconsin, the first of three rounds in the United States. While Belgian and Dutch riders dominated the competition - as expected - Canada's Maghalie Rochette (Specialized) was tenth in the women's race and Michael van den Ham () was 24th in the men.
Rochette led the women's race through the first lap, even getting a six second gap on the field at one point, but was joined by the big stars as they began the second of six laps. The front of the race came down to a battle between world champion Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) and seven-time world champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). In the final 500 metres, Vos snuck by Brand in a corner and then sprinted out of the final corner to win and take the leader's jersey. Denise Betsema (Pauwels Suazen-Bingoal) completed the Dutch sweep of the podium.
"It's really awesome because all the best Euro riders were, so this is a solid field," says Rochette. "Also, the fans were crazy! So fun! I finished tenth in the end today, but I'm actually really happy with how I raced. I felt good and I think there is a lot of positive to come out of this, and a lot of good learning. I proved to myself that I have the speed and I have what it takes to be up at the front."
"There were some mistakes that I learned from; getting into the next race I have to be more aggressive and get my lines better. It's not the same kind of racing that we are used to in North America. The races so far have been a two person battle and this is a different game. The speed of the race is higher and the girls are more aggressive, so I have to play the same game, be more aggressive and respect my space better. But today was definitely a good wake up call for that, so having done today's race I feel more prepared for the next couple of rounds this week. So, overall a solid start for the season, but I hope to build for what's coming."
While the rain held off for the women's race, it returned for the men's, which became a much more slippery affair. Eli Iserbyt (Pauels Sauzen-Bingoal) was the dominant rider in the race, finishing more than 30 seconds ahead of fellow Belgians Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Quinten Hermans (Tormans-Circus). Belgian riders took nine of the top 12 spots, with Dutch riders taking the others.
Van den Ham, already on the road to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for Round 2 on Wednesday, says, "We were all expecting a dry race and, up until 10 minutes before the start, it was shaping up to be just that. But it started raining, things got incredibly slick and I think like just about everyone else out there I was crashing all over the place for a lap or so until I could get into the pits for different treads and lower pressures. Once I finally got rolling, the race was fine. Not great, not bad. I definitely had ambitions to finish inside the top-20, but I'm happy enough with the effort and how I was able to put together the last half of the race"
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