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Cyclocross

Belgium sweeps men’s U23 ’cross worlds with Wyseure, Verstrynge, Nys

Front of the race was a Dutch-Belgian battle, with the UK's Cameron Mason also in the mix.

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Joran Wyseure of Belgium literally ran away with men’s U23 worlds race, sprinting up the 43 stairs of the Fayetteville course to distance his chasers towards the end of the second lap. He never looked back, and finished with enough of a gap to grab and fly a Belgian flag through the finishing chute.

His compatriot Emiel Verstrynge came through 12 seconds back, clapping for Wyseure’s win. And Thibau Nys took the small-group sprint for third to make it a Belgian sweep of the podium.

“In the second lap I had it a little bit easier in the group,” Wyseure said. “I wanted to attack to break the legs a little bit, to get the legs warmed up a bit. I had a little gap so I went full gas.”

Belgium start to finish

Belgium led the race start to finish.

Gerben Kuypers took the holeshot on the sprint from the line followed by Verstrynge. On the wide, fast course, it was soon singlefile at the front, with riders bunching up two- and three-wide through the corners further back.

Conditions were almost entirely dry on the manicured, 3.1km course in Centennial Park on the west side of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Coming into the end of the first lap at about 8.5 minutes, Mees Hendrixx of the Netherlands led a group of 13 of mostly Belgian and Dutch riders, with American Scott Funston hanging on the back. Two trios chased behind, followed by a bigger group.

On the second lap, Wyseure came to the front, barreling through S bends and then sprinting up the 43 stairs, putting a gap on the swarm of orange Dutch and blue Belgian kits behind him.

Joran Wyseure sprinted up the stairs to get his gap, and just kept increasing his advantage around the course. (Photo: David Stockman/Getty Images)

At the start of the third lap, he had six seconds on his nearest eight chasers — all Belgian and Dutch riders save Cameron Mason of Great Britain. With their man off the front, the Belgians were content to sit on the Dutch riders who tried in vain to pull Wyseure back.

“In a cyclocross race it is so difficult to have a team plan before the race,” Nys said. “It is more important to not ride against each other. In a cyclocross race, it is not so much trying to help someone else win, but just don’t fuck up his plans.”

A tricky off-camber 180 took a few riders down, including Antoine Huby of France. The spot caused difficulty for groups throughout the race, as the sharp uphill peak slowed riders just before a steep downward pitch and a hard 180 back up and over the same peak.

Ahead, Wyseure seemingly wasn’t slowed by anything, prying open the gap to 14 seconds on the splintering chase group coming into the fourth of seven laps.

It was the Dutch duo of 2021 U23 champ Pim Ronhaar and Hendrikx who led the chase, with Verstrynge and Nys of Belgium and Ryan Kamp of the Netherlands tucked in behind.

With three of seven laps to go, Hendrikx put in a dig that initially only Verstrynge could follow, further straining the chase group.

With two laps to go, Wyseure had the win in the bag, flowing through the winding course with the quintet of Verstrynge, Hendrikx, Kamp, Nys and Mason 25 seconds back.

Just before the last lap, Verstrynge jumped clear, and dangled halfway between Wyseure and the chasers.

Ryan popped in the closing kilometers, while Verstrynge inched closer to Wyseure.

With a hearty crowd of thousands cheering them on, Wyseure grabbed a Belgian flag from a fan and celebrated down the finishing stretch.

And on the podium a few minutes later, it was only Belgian flags to be seen.

2022 UCI World Cyclocross Championships Under-23 Men Results

  1. Joran Wyseure (BEL), 49:21
  2. Emiel Verstrynge (BEL), at :13
  3. Thibau Nys (BEL), at :33
  4. Mees Hendrix (NED), at :33
  5. Cameron Mason (GBR), at :33
  6. Ryan Kamp (NED), at :38
  7. Niels Vandeputte (BEL), at :40
  8. Pim Ronhaar (NED), at 1:15
  9. Gerben Kuypers (BEL), at 1:32
  10. Jente Michaels (BEL), at 1:37