Cyclocross
HOOGERHEIDE, NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 26: Arrival /...

Brand, van Der Poel take final World Cup round as Worst and Aerts win the overall

Alvarado lost her World Cup lead in final-lap crash, Aerts secures overall with second-place in the race.

The UCI Cyclocross World Cup wrapped up in Hoogerheide, Sunday, with Lucinda Brand and Mathieu van der Poel taking victories. The overall titles went to Annemarie Worst and Toon Aerts.

The close of the World Cup came perfectly-placed as a curtain-raiser for next weekend’s world championships, where many of the same riders will battle for the rainbow jersey in Switzerland.

The Hoogerheide circuit was fast and dry, with demanding features including long sets of stairs, hurdles, and steep sandy drop-offs scattered through the grass and paved surface. The fast course led to group racing in both races as riders were able to benefit from each other’s slipstream.

Brand put in a strong performance to give confidence ahead of next weekend’s world championships. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions) took her second-straight win at Hoogerheide after recovering from an early crash.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado’s (Alpecin-Fenix) World Cup hopes slid from beneath her in the final lap when she lost traction on a steep off-camber, falling off her bike, which then fell down the bank and jammed its chain. As Alvarado got her bike working again, Annemarie Worst (777) rode on to take second in the race and seal the World Cup overall.

The race came down to a group of six in the final laps, with Brand, Alvarado, Worst, Yara Kastelijn (777), Sanne Cant (IKO) and Evie Richards (Trek) proving inseparable. Brand had been aggressive through the race and sparked the action going into the final lap with an acceleration that only Alvarado was initially able to match before the six came together again.

Brand kept on the pressure through the final lap, drawing out Alvarado and Worst. Alvarado attacked hard at the top of a steep set of stairs, coming round Brand and putting her under pressure. However, as Alvarado looked to build a gap, she slipped on the off-camber section and with it, her World Cup hopes came to an end, having led the series for so long.

With Alvarado out of contention, Brand accelerated clear to take the win, with Worst placing second and Cant third.

The result gave Worst the World Cup overall, with Alvarado settling for second having finished sixth on the day after her costly mistake. Katerina Nash placed third in the series.

Women’s Top-3

  1. Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions): 45:11
  2. Annemarie Worst (777): +00:03
  3. Sanne Cant (IKO): +00:04
Worst, Brand and Nash on the podium for the final World Cup rankings. Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) took his fifth consecutive win at Hoogerheide, and 23rd victory of the season having attacked mid-way through the race as the lead pack watched on, seemingly helpless.

Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) went into the race with a comfortable lead in the World Cup standings over Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels-Sauzen Bingoal), and sealed his title with a second-place on the day, 38 seconds behind van der Poel. Iserbyt came third on the day, and took second in the overall standings.

A group of around 12 formed at the front of the race in the initial laps, led by Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), with Iserbyt, van der Poel, Aerts, and Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) all among them. Van der Poel sat toward the back of the group, looking confident that he could choose his moment to strike.

The reigning world champion shot off a warning on lap five when he accelerated up the bunch to move up to third place, and then, midway through lap 6, accelerated hard up a shallow climb to distance Iserbyt and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), who had been leading the pack in front of him.

Van der Poel instantly formed a large gap and from there only extended his lead.

As the second-half of the race went on, Iserbyt and Aerts moved clear of the chase group. The pair remained locked together through to the final lap as they fought for second place, with van der Poel 50 seconds ahead.

Van der Poel eased back in the close of the final lap as he soaked up the moment, winning the race also named after his father – GP Adrie van der Poel – by 38 seconds. It was yet another dominant win for the Dutchman with the world championships on the horizon.

Aerts attacked several times in the final lap, but was unable to drop Iserbyt, who was able to benefit from the taller rider’s draft. However, Aerts’s persistence paid off as he finally moved clear over the hurdles to take second in the race and secure the World Cup title. Iserbyt took second overall, Vanthourenhout third

Van Aert finished eight in the group of chasers.

Men’s Top-3

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): 1:04:39
  2. Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions): +0:00:38
  3. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels-Sauzen Bingoal): +0:00:43
Aerts, Iserbyt and Vanthorenhout on the podium for final World Cup standings. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)