Cyclocross World Cup: Laurens Sweeck sprints to victory

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Laurens Sweeck sprinted to victory on Sunday to win the UCI Cyclocross World Cup stage in Beekse Bergen.

Lars van der Haar took second, with Michael Vanthourenhout settling for third after leading for much of the final lap.

“I sprinted quite a distance, but I knew we were going fast and it was hard to stay on the wheel,” Sweeck said. “I went full throttle from the start of the sprint, and I thought they were on the wheel, but they weren’t.

“I’m almost at my best. I was a little sick last week, but when I got two wins in one week, I didn’t feel 100%. The races were really good.

As the final laps approached, there were still 15 riders left in 20 seconds, but a leading group broke free.

Vanthourenhout, Sweeck, Van der Haar and Joris Nieuwenhuis kept a small gap with World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt, who continued to struggle with minor crashes and mishaps only to then come back.

With two laps to go in the eight-lap race, Sweeck dropped the hammer in an attempt to blow the front of the race. Vanthourenhout kept digging to stay on his wheel. Van der Haar regained contact crossing the sand to set up the bell lap with five riders still in play for the win, with Iserbyt yo-yoing at the back.

“I had a bad start and unclipped a pedal,” Iserbyt said. β€œI was lucky to be able to come back in front, but I made a few mistakes that I couldn’t win. I can be happy with the result, but it’s a shame for me today.

Vanthourenhout surged on the final lap, with Van der Haar and Sweeck on the rivet to stay close. Iserbyt dove in third over the barriers, with the race tied in the decisive sandpit.

Five came in for a five-man sprint to the pavement, and Sweeck uncorked an unbeatable sprint to the line. It was good for his second World Cup victory this season.

“I know I’m not the best sprinter in the group,” said Vanthourenhout. β€œI think third place was the best possible in this situation. I tried everything on the last lap to let everyone down, but it was not possible.

Spaniard Felipe Orts entered the top 10 with a sixth-place finish, marking the best result by an elite male Spanish rider ever in a cyclo-cross World Cup.

Bringing order to chaos

A group pulled away in the middle laps on Sunday. (Photo: DAVID PINTENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunday’s race at Beekse Bergen was the first time the World Cup was contested on the Dutch course. A similar layout was used for the 2013 Dutch National Championships, but with a mix of grass, tight turns, sand and grip sections, as well as artificial obstacles, the course featured a tightly coiled bottom for the fifth round of the 2022. -23 World Cup.

As expected for the Netherlands, there was almost no significant elevation. Under cool temperatures, sunny skies and a light afternoon wind, the technical, fast and mostly dry course provided a test of the course and the opportunity for short accelerations.

The race was interesting as many of the top stars from several disciplines are set to join the World Cup, with world champion Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel set to return.

Van der Haar and Sweeck pulled a small gap on lap 2 when there was a hiccup in the line of riders behind them. Precision was the key to the technical course between roots, sand and loose soil.

On lap five, Nieuwenhuis jumped into the lead, with Van der Haar, Vanthourenhout and Sweeck in pursuit. World Cup leader Iserbyt had some trouble at the start and was struggling to get back to the hover at around 15 seconds.

Going into lap 6 of 8 laps, Iserbyt took over the leading quartet, but slid into a corner, forcing him to drop back.

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