Weekend ‘cross wrap: Alvarado, van der Poel both double up

Alpecin-Fenix pair both took wins on Saturday and Sunday's races. Van Aert continued his strong comeback from injury with a fourth-place in Saturday's race.

Alpecin-Fenix dominated the weekend’s action at Gullegem and Brussels Universities with their riders Mathieu van der Poel and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado both taking double victories.

Van der Poel was dominant in both Saturday’s Gullegem race and Sunday’s DVV Trofee Round in Brussels, seemingly able to distance the field at will. Alvarado was pushed hard in her races, winning Saurday’s race from a sprint, and claiming’s Sunday’s victory after capitalizing on a late crash from rival Annemarie Worst (777).

Cyclocross Gullegem

Alvarado won the women’s race from a sprint, edging out Yara Kastelijn (777).

Kastelijn set the tone early in the race, going out fast, with only Alvarado able to respond. American Rebecca Fahringer (Kona-Maxxis) was able to bridge on lap 2, but faded under the relentless pressure piled on by Alvarado. Kastelijn held strong to counter Alvarado’s moves, and the pair went into the final straight together.

Alvarado had the final kick required to take the win, her 11th of the season. 17-year-old Shirin Van Anrooij took third, 30 seconds later. The youngster was able to distance Fahringer in the back-half of the final lap to make an all-Dutch podium.

Van der Poel picked his moment and made it count in a decisive victory in the men’s race. The world champion attacked on lap 5 having sat back earlier in the race, and no one was able to match him.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was back in action in his second race since the injury he sustained at the Tour de France, and was dominant in the opening laps. The Belgian set the pace through the first circuit, drawing out van der Poel, Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), and Corne van Kessel (Tormans Cross).

Van der Poel made his move in response to an acceleration from Vanthourenhout and soon built a solid gap, leaving the trio behind him to fight for podium positions. Vanthourenhout was the aggressor in the group, repeatedly attacking. His move in the final lap distanced van Aert, who finished fourth.

Vanthourenhout’s pressure through the race was rewarded with second-place, finishing 17 seconds behind van der Poel. Van Kessel took third, van Aert fourth.

Alvarado fought hard for her double victory. Photo: Alpecin-Fenix / (FILE)

DVV Trofee: Brussels Universities

Alvarado took her second win of the weekend on a tricky technical course. The Alpecin-Fenix rider shook Annemarie Worst (777) in the final lap when her rival lost control on a bumpy downhill and hit the barriers.

Worst, Alvarado and Anna Kay (Experza) led the race through lap 1, with Sanne Cant (IKO) close behind. Alvarado and Worst had gone clear as a pair by lap 2, with Cant and Kay forming a duo behind them, around six seconds back.

By lap 3, Alvarado and Worst’s lead had gone out to 30 seconds as Cant and Kay were left racing for third, with the groups behind them over 10 seconds back.

Worst and Alvarado were inseparable through the closing laps, with Alvarado often on the front. Alvarado was able to briefly distance Worst in the final lap when the 777 rider slid in an off-camber, though Worst battled back into contention. However, Worst’s second error when hitting the barrier late in the lap was the end of her fight for the win, allowing Alvarado to go clear.

Alvarado won by nine seconds, with Worst second.

Kay and Cant had been neck-and-neck all race, though Cant’s experience shone through in the final lap when she chose her moment to accelerate away on an off-camber to take the final podium slot. She took third, 1:12 behind the leader.

Van der Poel recovered from a brief lapse of brilliance early in the race to ride clear of a strong chase group and on to victory. The 24-year-old had been leading the race in lap 2 when his pedal clipped a barrier, throwing him over the handlebars. He soon recovered and attacked again in lap 5, and from there on, was unstoppable.

The race started with a strong group forming at the front that included van der Poel, Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout (both Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), and Corne van Kessel (Tormans Cross).

Van der Poel went clear from the group in lap 2 to take a small gap, before crashing, hitting the deck and being caught by the chase group.

Van der Poel rode on the front of the pack of five riders through the following laps as they seemed to just be waiting for him to make the decisive move. The unstoppable Dutchman made his move on lap 5 and his rivals looked on, helpless.

As van der Poel rode out front alone and built his gap, Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout, and van Kessel remained locked together in the fight for podium spots. Iserbyt was able to pull away from the group in the final lap to take second, 30 seconds behind van der Poel. Van Kessel took third, eight seconds later.