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Cyclocross

Eli Iserbyt makes it three at Overijse World Cup

Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal riders go one-two on podium as Iserbyt continues to dominate opening rounds of World Cup.

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Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) continued his dominance of the 2021-22 cyclocross season with a perfectly-judged victory in Overijse.

It was Iserbyt’s sixth win of the season and third victory in this year’s UCI World Cup.

Iserbyt was helped by the presence at the front of the race of friend and team-mate Michael Vanthourenhout. The pair worked together to defeat fellow Belgian Toon Aerts (Trek Baloise Lions), who looked to have made a winning move with two laps to go. But races change fast in cyclocross, and Aerts eventually finished third.

Overijse is one of the oldest races on the calendar, dating back to 1960. Known as the Vlaamse Druivencross, the race is centered upon the picturesque Flemish Brabant town, southeast of Brussels.

The course has varied little over the years, making use of a hillside that rises from the town.

Over the years the greatest cyclo-cross riders have won here. Belgian legend Roland Liboton took an incredible 12 victories between 1978 and 1985 – in those days there were two races per year, one before Christmas, one after. Erik De Vlaeminck won in Overijse nine times, Sven Nys six times. Of today’s generation, Mathieu Van Der Poel tops the list with four victories.

After a muddy but dry women’s race, the men were surprised by a heavy rain shower that fell just as they were lining up. This changed the course, making sections even muddier than they’d been during the practice laps.

It was a day when shoe-stud choice was nearly as important as tire tread and pressure choice. The many running sections on off-camber mud were treacherous.

Daan Soete (CX Team Deshacht Group Hens Maes) took the early lead from Iserbyt, Quinten Hermans (Tormans Circus), and Aerts. But Hermans quickly took over, proving again how much the winner in Fayetteville World Cup winnner liked heavy courses.

After an uncertain start to the season in the USA, Aerts looked to have regained his form and confidence. He won last week in Zonhoven and at Overijse he repeatedly made moves to push to the front of the race.

Hermans, too, seemed to have strong legs. He was clear in the lead by the end of the second lap, but a crash a few minutes later affected his race. He was quickly back on his bike, but he had damaged his shoe.

Miraculously, his pits crew had a spare pair of shoes, but the change was painfully slow and Hermans never made it back to Aerts, Iserbyt, and Vanthourenhout.

On lap six, the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal team had three in front, with Laurens Sweeck joining his team-mates. A mistake by Vanthourenhout on a wide muddy meadow descent allowed Aerts to attack, and the race looked to be over but Aerts exploded a lap later.

On the final lap, Iserbyt went to the front.

Vanthourenhout gave his teammate a big help by moving ahead of Aerts on a narrow technical section, then slowing down to block Aerts from chasing. After that, Iserbyt’s victory never looked in doubt. Vanthourenhout finished second, and Aerts took third.

Further down the results, Britain’s Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing) had a breakthrough ride with ninth place.

The UCI World Cup now takes a week’s break. After next weekend’s European Championships in the Netherlands, the World Cup reconvenes at another famous venue, Tabor, in the Czech Republic.

2021 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Overijse Men’s Elite Results

1 Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): 1:00:28
2 Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :09
3 Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions), at :26
4 Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :46
5 Quinten Hermans (Tormans Circus), at 1:02

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