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Cyclocross

X2O Trofee Baal: Fem van Impel and Eli Iserbyt power to victories

Cyclocross: Two of the 'Big Three' sat out, and a familiar cast of characters filled the void.

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Fem van Empel and Eli Iserbyt powered to victory at X2O Trofee Baal—GP Sven Nys on Sunday.

There were no signs of hangovers among the elite riders, but the same cannot be said for the raucous crowds.

In the women’s race, it was Van Empel and a race for the New Year’s leftovers behind her.

Van Empel pulled clear, and didn’t look back. Behind there was a fight for the podium, with Lucinda Brand coming through second at 2 minutes back. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado crossed the line third.

“Above all, I enjoyed myself”, the 20-year-old said. “Whenever I take a break, I usually need some time to find the rhythm again. I would have preferred to battle with someone to get more sharpness, but I had to make it entertaining myself. I was a little nervous, but I never had to give my all. For the upcoming races, this triumph does boost confidence.”

It was a big coming out party for Van Empel, who debuted in her new Jumbo-Visma jersey for 2023 with another emphatic win.

It was another Dutch podium sweep in women’s cyclocross. Dutch riders have dominated since the season began, and expectations are growing heading into the world championships in little more than a month’s time.

Three North Americans punched into the top-10, with Clara Honsinger leading the way with sixth in her third top-10 since winning the U.S. title last fall.

Iserbyt proves there’s more than the ‘Big Three’

Belgian Eli Iserbyt celebrates as he wins the men’s elite race of the ‘GP Sven Nys’ cyclocross on Sunday. (Photo: JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

In the men’s race, Tom Pidcock was the only one of the “Big Three” to start. Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel decided to cool their jets going into other races this week.

If all eyes were on Pidcock to stroll to victory, others had something else in mind.

Pidcock didn’t help himself, crashing into the fences after coming down a series of rollers at speed.

Iserbyt came through to score a morale-boosting win, with Michael Vanthourenhout kicking to second.

“It certainly hasn’t been easy these past two months,” the winner said. “It was a thin line between stopping the season or continuing. I already feel better again. The win makes me very happy.”

Van Aert and Van der Poel had won every edition going back to 2014, except one, but with both sitting this race out on the sidelines, it was anyone’s race.

Pidcock scored another podium, hitting third in what’s been an ever-steady campaign for the young Brit.

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Results powered by FirstCycling.com