Great Britain’s Ben Tulett won the junior men’s race on Saturday in Valkenburg, the Netherlands to kickoff the 2018 UCI World Cyclocross Championships. Tomas Kopecky (Czech Republic) took the silver medal with Dutchman Ryan Kamp in third.
Lane Maher was the top American in fifth place. Maher battled for a podium spot throughout the race, but faded out of podium contention on the final lap.
- 1. Ben Tulett, (Great Britain), in 41:19:00
- 2. Tomas Kopecky, (Czech Republic), at +00:22
- 3. Ryan Kamp, (Netherlands), at +00:30
- 4. Tom Linder, (Germany), at +00:34
- 5. Lane Maher, (USA), at +00:35
- 6. Pim Ronhaar, (Netherlands), at +00:36
- 7. Mees Hendrikx, (Netherlands), at +00:48
- 8. Gerben Kuypers, (Belgium), at +00:55
- 9. Ryan Cortjens, (Belgium), at +00:59
- 10. Thibault Valognes, (France), at +01:10
A brutal course in Valkenburg, the Netherlands awaited the top junior male cyclocross riders on Saturday. The riders were either climbing or descending throughout the lap. The lap finished with an incredible 30-step run-up, that was part of a huge flyover structure. Extremely muddy conditions meant riders were pitting at least once per lap and put a huge emphasis on bike handling skills and not just raw power.
From the start, it was clear that the winner would have to have a bit of luck on their side. Riders were slipping and sliding, as the lap started by plunging down into the forest. The course is situated on the Cauberg climb, which is famous due to its presence in the Amstel Gold Race.
Loris Rouiller (Switzerland) took the holeshot, as the junior men were all over the place through the opening half lap. Riders were constantly moving forward and backward in the standings, as they tried to get a grip on the course conditions. Rouiller’s solid start came as no surprise as he won the Namur round of the world cup series. With the heavy mud and incredibly difficult descents and climbs, the course in Valkenburg had a Namur feel to it. Maher also had a great start and was right up front in the mix.
Rouiller tried to pull away on the opening lap, but the junior men’s world cup winner Kopecky chased him down. At the end of the opening lap, it had become a six-rider race for the rainbow bands. Featuring in the front group was Kopecky, Rouiller, Tulett, Maher, Mees Hendrikx (Netherlands), and Kamp. Notably absent was Pim Ronhaar (Netherlands) who finished second in the world cup overall, including taking victories in Koksijde, Belgium, and Zeven, Germany.
Maher took the lead on lap two, as he avoided heading into the pits for a clean bike while everyone else in the lead group did. However, his time in the front would be short-lived. Tulett stormed the second half of the lap to take the lead. As Tulett opened his lead, the chasers struggled in the deep heavy muck and more riders clawed their way back into podium contention.
The junior men would only contest four laps on Saturday, as their lap times were over 10 minutes. UCI rules state the junior men’s race at the world championships should be 40 minutes in length.
Entering the penultimate lap, Tulett had an advantage of 15 seconds over a powerful chase group. The chase contained the other riders he was with previously, minus Rouiller. The Swiss rider would pay greatly for starting the race so hard and finished outside of the top 10.
Kamp would drop his chain and lose contact with the front group, as Kopecky mustered the strength to bridge to Tulett and give himself a shot at becoming world champion. The conditions in Valkenburg were so treacherous that riding cleanly through a section meant there was a possibility to wipe away a 10-second gap rather quickly.
Kopecky and Tulett were wheel-to-wheel, as the bell rung signaling the final lap. It was a two-rider race to see who would be world champion. Maher was alone in third, but Ronhaar was only a few seconds behind. The Dutchman had entered the race a heavy favorite to medal on home soil.
The final lap would see a big shake-up at the top of the standings. Tulett rode away from Kopecky to comfortably take the victory. The Briton rode down the finishing straight with tears in his eyes. He had gone one better than his brother, Dan, who finished second a year ago in the junior men’s race. This is the second straight year Great Britain has taken the junior men’s cyclocross world title, after Thomas Pidcock won in Biel, Luxembourg in 2017.
Kopecky suffered through the final lap, but managed to hold on for the silver medal. Kamp recovered from his mechanical on lap three and blitzed back to the front of the race to capture bronze and ensure that a rider from the host nation stood on the podium.
Germany’s Tom Linder took fourth. Linder never managed to make the junction to the front group, but consistent riding throughout the 40-minute effort allowed him to pass riders and finish in the top five.
Maher and Ronhaar entered the final lap appearing to be fighting for the final podium spot, but both faded in the end. They sprinted down the finishing straight for fifth with the American coming out on top.
- 1. Ben Tulett, (GBR), 41:19
- 2. Tomas Kopecky, (CZE), 41:41
- 3. Ryan Kamp, (NED), 41:49
- 4. Tom Lindner, (GER), 41:53
- 5. Lane Maher, (USA), 41:54
- 6. Pim Ronhaar, (NED), 41:55
- 7. Mees Hendrikx, (NED), 42:07
- 8. Gerben Kuypers, (BEL), 42:14
- 9. Ryan Cortjens, (BEL), 42:18
- 10. Thibault Valognes, (FRA), 42:29
- 11. Luke Verburg, (NED), 42:37
- 12. Benjamin Rivet, (FRA), 42:50
- 13. Scott Funston, (USA), 42:56
- 14. Jarno Bellens, (BEL), 43:03
- 15. Witse Meeussen, (BEL), 43:12
- 16. Loris Rouiller, (SUI), 43:27
- 17. Emil Lindgren, (SWE), 43:42
- 18. Arthur Kluckers, (LUX), 43:43
- 19. Tyler Clark, (CAN), 43:43
- 20. Anthony Courriere, (FRA), 44:00
- 21. Jakub Schierl, (CZE), 44:06
- 22. Sam Noel, (USA), 44:10
- 23. Niels Vandeputte, (BEL), 44:19
- 24. Tomáš JeŽek, (CZE), 44:21
- 25. Nicolas Kess, (LUX), 44:40
- 26. Filippo Fontana, (ITA), 44:53
- 27. Federico Ceolin, (ITA), 45:07
- 28. Adrian Barros Rodriguez, (ESP), 45:11
- 29. Conor Martin, (CAN), 45:13
- 30. Jakub ŤoupalÍk, (CZE), 45:31
- 31. Calder Wood, (USA), 45:34
- 32. Théo Thomas, (FRA), 45:43
- 33. Sean Flynn, (GBR), 45:46
- 34. Jakub ŘÍman, (CZE), 45:48
- 35. Jenson Young, (GBR), 45:51
- 36. Anton Niederbach, (SWE), 45:52
- 37. Aloïs Charrin, (FRA), 45:56
- 38. Benjamin Gomez Villafane, (USA), 45:59
- 39. Alvin TomÁŠek, (CZE), 46:03
- 40. Bart Artz, (NED), 46:05
- 41. Loïc Bettendorff, (LUX), 46:06
- 42. Frederik Raßmann, (GER), 46:25
- 43. Alex Morton, (USA), 46:29
- 44. Dylan Kerr, (CAN), 46:38
- 45. Koutarou Murakami, (JPN), 46:42
- 46. Felix Stehli, (SUI), 46:46
- 47. Balázs Vas, (HUN), 46:50
- 48. David Westhoff, (GER), 46:51
- 49. Søren WÆrenskjold, (NOR), 46:54
- 50. Ian Millennium, (DEN), 46:55
- 51. Cédric Pries, (LUX), 46:55
- 52. Thomas Creighton, (IRL), 47:02
- 53. Pascal TÖmke, (GER), 47:28
- 54. Piotr Krynski, (POL), 47:29
- 55. Noé Barras, (SUI), 47:51
- 56. Tommaso Dalla Valle, (ITA), 47:58
- 57. Adam Mcgarr, (IRL), 48:28
- 58. Gonzalo Inguanzo Macho, (ESP), 48:44
- 59. Simon Bak, (DEN), 48:54
- 60. Davide Toneatti, (ITA), 49:03
- 61. Joshua Amos Gudnitz, (DEN), 49:18
- 62. Paul Mysko, (CAN), 49:20
- 63. Carlos Canal Blanco, (ESP), 50:14
- 64. Hubert Drobek, (POL), 50:50
- 65. Alfred Thoft Christiansen, (DEN), 50:57
- 66. Mik Esser, (LUX) ,0:51:22
- 67. Ren Tsumita, (JPN)
- 68. Alexander Matthews, (AUS)
- 69. Rémi Premand, (SUI)
- 70. Archie Ryan, (IRL)
- 71. Anakin Williams, (AUS)
- 72. Zach Larsson, (AUS)
- 73. Piotr Gruszczynski, (POL)
- DNF Leonardo Cover, (ITA)