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Quinten Hermans (Tormans Circus) signaled he is a new force at the top of world cyclocross with an outstanding victory at the Fayetteville World Cup in Arkansas.
After Sunday’s Waterloo World Cup on a fast course around Trek world headquarters, Hermans lamented that his legs felt fantastic, and if he hadn’t crashed heavily on the tarmac he would have done much better. In Fayetteville, there was no such misfortune to hold him back.
With the course already cut up by the women’s race in which Lucinda Brand demonstrated her endurance, the men faced an hour of muddy climbs and descents. While the mud was not quite as shoe-sucking as a Belgian field in December, the relentless nature of the course meant that only the riders with the most power would prevail.
Hermans has spent his off-season riding on the road for Intermarché Wanty Gobert. This year he finished his first grand tour, the Giro d’Italia, and the strength he gained from that experience showed today on the testing climbs of Centennial Park.
With the wind picking up and in the near-torrential rain, Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) was fastest into the first corners, closely pursued by Hermans and Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal). Later in the first lap, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) came to the front and used his running ability to push clear on the stairs. But Hermans was always close and he looked more controlled than his rivals, choosing to run some tricky banked sections rather than risk coming to an awkward standstill over the top. By the third lap, Hermans had opened a small gap and he never looked back. In the lead he was able to pick his lines and measure his effort.
Behind him Aerts, Iserbyt, and Vanthourenhout gave chase but they never looked like they were seriously going to catch their quarry. Aerts fell away on the penultimate lap and the Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal team-mates briefly worked together before Iserbyt pushed on, intent on securing as many World Cup points as possible.
U.S. national champion Gage Hecht (Aevolo) powered up his renowned big engine – also honed during a strong road season – to produce a career-best eighth place at an elite men’s World Cup. No doubt he will be hoping for more rain next time the cyclocross world comes back to Arkansas.
For many riders, this was a dress rehearsal for the world championships being held at the same venue in January 2022. The teams — particularly the mechanics — will tonight be busy making notes about the course and how their equipment fared. American fans who have had a taste of how exciting top-level cyclocross can be will be looking forward to the big event in January, the first world championships to be held in the United States since Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013.
UCI Cyclocross World Cup Fayetteville elite men’s results
- Quinten Hermans (Tormans-Circus Cyclocross Team), 54:55
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :37
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :49
- Toon Aerts (Baloise-Trek Lions), at 1:21
- Pim Ronhaar (Baloise-Trek Lions), at 1:33