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Dutch duo Mathieu van der Poel and Yara Kastelijn took the European championship cyclocross titles in Silvelle, Italy, Sunday.
Kastelijn took the women’s elite title after holding off a fierce chase from Eva Lechner (Italy), while world champion and reigning European champion van der Poel survived a strong team effort from a number of Belgians to edge out Eli Iserbyt (Belgium)
The course was packed full of 90 and 180-degree bends and mired in sticky boggy mud, making for tough, heavy racing across all the races.
Van der Poel takes third-straight title
Defending champion Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) held off five Belgians in the closing laps of the race to take his third European title. The race was only his second outing in the mud, having won his first ‘cross race last weekend at Superprestige.
Eli Iserbyt (Belgium), who has torn through the early part of the ‘cross season, took second, and fellow Belgian Laurens Sweeck took third.
The race became a battle between van der Poel and a mass of Belgians after just the opening laps, with the Dutchman battling Michael Vanthorenhout (Belgium) and Iserbyt after the trio gained a slight gap. The Belgian pair worked their team advantage to attack and counter van der Poel, though the world champion was able to respond to each Belgian move.
By lap six, Sweeck and two further Belgians joined the lead trio to make it five versus one at the front.
Though Vanthorenhout had dominated the early part of the race, it was Iserbyt who was the last Belgian to remain in contact with van der Poel. The Dutchman’s strength in repeatedly accelerating out of the tight bends started to tell as he pulled away from Iserbyt in the final half-lap. Once a gap opened, Iserbyt chased hard but could never bridge, leaving van der Poel to win by three seconds.
Kastelijn holds off late surge from Lechner
Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands) held off a fierce chase from Italian Eva Lechner (Italy) to win by 12 seconds, while defending champion Annemarie Worst (Netherlands) took third.
Kastelijn went off the front on the opening lap after a crash from Worst split the field, and she lead the race from there on.
With Kastelijn alone at the head of the race, the main battle on the course was between Worst and Lechner, but Lechner eventually dropped her rival in the third lap of four and rapidly cut the gap to Kastelijn. However, the Dutch rider didn’t falter and Lechner didn’t have enough time left in the race to cut the gap, leaving 22-year-old Kastelijn to take the victory.
Alvarado, Crispin take U23 titles
Defending European champion Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands) beat Anna Kay (Great Britain) in the U23 women’s race by 12 seconds after a close battle in the closing laps. Alvarado’s victory comes off the back of two wins in the Superprestige series.
Frenchman Mickaël Crispin won the men’s U23s after a close three-way fight with Timo Kelich (Belgium) and fellow Frenchman Antoine Benoist. Eli Iserbyt and current U23 Tom Pidcock both were still eligible for U23 racing, though chose to race at the elite level instead.