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Cyclocross

Eli Iserbyt defeats teammate and the rain in slippery World Cup opener

A rain shower on the second lap dramatically changed the race.

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European champion Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) proved he is a consistent force in elite cyclocross, with an emphatic and controlled solo victory in the Waterloo World Cup Sunday.

Iserbyt has started the season strongly with three wins in the Ethias Cross series, and transatlantic travel didn’t seem to slow him down in Wisconsin as he rode away from his teammate Michael Vanthourenhout, who took second, and Quinten Hermas (Tormans Circus), who was third.

Vanthourenhout and Hermans led the sprint out of the start, and they were chased by Lars Van Der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) and Iserbyt.

Coming from a successful road season, Hermans looked to have found a new level of speed. Pre-race favorite Iserbyt was on the defensive.

But on the second lap a rain shower turned a fast technical course into a skating rink, and a spate of crashes changed the shape of the race.

When the skies opened early in the race, it changed the composition of the ground and the race. (Photo: Greg Kaplan)

Hermans, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions), and Thibaut Nys (Baloise Trek Lions) all slid out on a stretch of tarmac at the bottom of a descent. Nys was forced to retire and Aerts was visibly shaken.

Vanthourenhout crashed on a slick grassy turn. Iserbyt, meanwhile, was busy yelling to his mechanics to let some pressure out of the tires on his spare bike, and pitted at the next opportunity.

Vanthourenhout made an impressive recovery to get back up to his teammate, but Iserbyt always looked the stronger of the pair.

Once the 23-year-old had redialed himself into a wet course, he started looking for the place to make his move. The moment came when Vanthourenhout rode wide on a fast descent, came to a halt against the barriers, and Iserbyt squeezed by.

Over the last four laps, Iserbyt gradually pulled away from Vanthourenhout, finishing 30 seconds clear by the line.

Iserbyt coming out of the pits with two laps to go. (Photo: Greg Kaplan)

Vanthourenhout held off Hermans to take second, and Van Der Haar took fourth – a disappointing result for the Baloise Trek Lions on their adopted home turf at the Trek headquarters.

The top American finisher was Pan-American champion Kerry Werner, in 14th place, over three minutes down.

On Wednesday the World Cup moves on to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the second round of the series, which will provide a first look at the circuit that will be used at the world championships in January.

Rank Name Team Time
1 Eli Iserbyt Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal 1:09:37
2 Michael Vanthourenhout Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal 0:30
3 Quinten Hermans Tormans Circus 0:42
4 Lars Van Der Haar Baloise Trek Lions 1:05
5 Niels Vandeputte Alpecin Fenix 1:38
6 Toon Aerts Baloise Trek Lions 1:39
7 Vincent Baestaens  CX Team Deschacht 1:46
8 Ryan Kamp Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal 1:51
9 Jens Adams Hollebeekhoeve 1:54
10 Corne Van Kessel Tormans Circus 2:05