Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) won Sunday’s Cyclocross World Cup round in Waterloo, Wisconsin to extend his lead in the overall series. The Belgian chased down countryman Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) at the midpoint of the race, and then soloed to the win.
With his win, Iserbyt extended his lead in the World Cup standings—he also claimed the World Cup opener in Iowa City.
“I’m used to wearing [the World Cup leader’s jersey] for the Under-23 and junior series, but the elite is unbelievable,” Iserbyt said. “It’s like a dream. I cannot believe it at the moment.”
The victory came after a punishing day in the mud on the Waterloo course, which in previous years featured hot weather and fast, dusty racing. That was not the case this year after an early autumn rainstorm soaked the course overnight. Rain continued to fall on the track during the men’s race, and from the opening lap, the riders encountered slippery mud.
Iserbyt and Aerts sped to a quick lead on the opening lap, and enjoyed 10-second gap to a group of chasers at the finish of the first of six laps. Calamity then struck Iserbyt at the end of the second lap, after he became stuck on a course marker before crashing. The bobble allowed Aerts to move into the lead, and the Belgian national champion opened a sizable gap by the midpoint of the race.
Iserbyt didn’t give up, however, and slowly clawed his way back up to Aerts, who suffered several crashes of his own, including a painful tumble on the slippery log stairs. Iserbyt made contact with Aerts on the fourth lap, and surfed past the fading Belgian champion on a rutted off-camber section. He then charged past Aerts on a steep and muddy run-up, and never looked back.
The challenging conditions forced riders to take risks, Iserbyt said.
“I didn’t want to take any risks but the track is really difficult, and it’s a technical part around every corner and every straight part is difficult,” Iserbyt said. “You just go from left to right, and the bike is choosing its own way, and you just have to follow the bike. It’s not easy.”
With his win, Iserbyt, a two-time Under-23 world champion, has confirmed himself as the strongest rider of the early season. The World Cup now has a four-week break before picking up again in Europe.
Iserbyt said that he had planned to come into the season with top form, since cyclocross’s heaviest hitters—Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert—are not yet racing.
“Before we came to America I said to myself a top-seven or top-eight in the GC was really good,” Iserbyt said. “Me and my trainer had a plan to be good at the beginning of the season because Mathieu [van der Poel] and Wout [van Aert] are not here. It’s unbelievable.”
2019 UCI World Cup Waterloo, Wisconsin
- Eli Iserbyt, 1:08:28
- Toon Aerts, at 1:08
- Michael Vanthournehout, at 1:23
- Gianni Vermeersch, at 1:50
- Corne Van Kessel, at 2:18
- Quinten Hermans, at 2:25
- Nicolas Cleppe, at 2:34
- Joris Nieuwenhuis, at 2:47
- Jens Adams, at 2:56
- Jim Aernouts, at 3:13