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Monday, November 28, 2022

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Men's & Women's UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Hulst

Team Alpecin-Deceuninck had a good day in Hulst, winning both the men's & women's elite races. Pictured are the winners, Mathieu van der Poel & Puck Pieterse

Men's race:

Mathieu van der Poel gets his cross season started in style.

The race: Here's the UCI's race report.

A fairly technical course awaited the riders in Hulst in the Netherlands. Slopes and slippery descents made for an exciting race that was partly decided on the final lap by a wheel break in world champion Tom Pidcock. Mathieu van der Poel thus soloed straight to a first win this season after a strong comeback in the field.

The lead start was again for Dutch champion Lars van der Haar. But all eyes were on his compatriot Mathieu van der Poel who made his return to the field. Starting had to be the Dutchman on the 4th row, so getting a good start was crucial for the further course of his race. And the former world champion understood that immediately. Van der Poel got away around 18th place and, after a few strong technical turns, immediately made up many positions.

After a great manoeuvre, he rolled up another three guys. He did not hesitate for a second and moments later flashed straight to the wheel of leader Van der Haar. After barely six minutes, he even resolutely took the lead of the race. Pidcock was still on pursuit at that point. In Van der Poel's wheel, Van der Haar and Iserbyt tried to follow. But a small slide soon cost Van der Poel his leading position again, and on the same lap another slide caused him to drop back to spot six.

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Van der Haar was thus able to return to the lead of the race with again a lot of riders in his wake. Moments later it was Pidcock who went to the lead with Sweeck following a few seconds and Iserbyt behind. Fast starter Van der Poel rode back beaten around at 17 seconds in 6th place, but made a second attempt to storm to the head of the race again.

Sweeck took over from the world champion moments later and in the background an unleashed Van der Poel rode towards the duo. He then rejoined moments later with Iserbyt and Van der Haar also within seven seconds. On the fourth lap, it was Pidcock who set fire to Van der Poel, but a mistake allowed Van der Poel to rejoin. Moments later, Pidcock made another slip, losing several seconds on the Dutchman.

Entering lap 5, Van der Poel, Pidcock and Sweeck had three riders still in the running for the podium with a handful of seconds between them. Pidcock was in pursuit but stayed close to Van der Poel. It was a matter of staying clear on the nevertheless technical course. Van der Poel made another small slip but did not let his lead lie there and went into the final lap with 12 seconds on the world champion.

On a descent, a sudden wheel break from Pidcock caused a crash. The world champion saw his second place go up in smoke and decided to abandon the race moments later. Half a lap later, a strong returning Mathieu van der Poel was able to win the race in Hulst for the fifth time in his career. With Pidcock's disappearance, Sweeck rode to second place and Iserbyt was just able to stay ahead of Van der Haar for third. Although that place no longer seemed enough to keep his leader's jersey, Sweeck thus became the new leader in the standings. 

Men's results:

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 57min 9sec
  2. Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) @ 15sec
  3. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 22sec
  4. Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 30sec
  5. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 49sec
  6. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 1min 31sec
  7. Felipe Ors Lloret (Burgos-BH) @ 1min 44sec
  8. Jens Adams (Belgium) @ 1min 50sec
  9. Toon Vandebosch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 2min 11sec

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Women's race:

Puck Pieterse had time to brush some mud off her jersey so that her sponsor's names could be seen before she sat up and crossed the line.

The race: Here's the UCI's race report:

The technical course in Hulst provided quite a spectacle in the 7th World Cup race. After what looked to be an exciting duel between Pieterse and Van Empel, a crash by Van Empel threw a spanner in the works. Pieterse was thus able to cycle solo to her second World Cup victory in a row.

The start for the women's elite in Hulst, Netherlands, was given exceptionally at 11am. The World Cup gave way to another World Cup notably the World Cup in Qatar. Puck Pieterse seemed to have no problems with the earlier start and was the first to fly into the wet and muddy field. It was immediately clear that Hulst was going to be a real shuffle as a lot of falls took place in the background on a steep and slippery descent.

The young duo of Pieterse and Van Empel w e did not esteem their rivals and seemed to be embarking on an exciting duel after only half a lap. Only Ceylin Alverado managed to stay within a handful of seconds. After one lap, Pieterse had bitten a small lead of 6 seconds over Van Empel. Alverado followed at 19 seconds with Van Anrooij already half a minute behind.

Pieterse rode masterfully over the slants but Van Empel was not to be underestimated either and came back closer to her young opponent. It was mainly a matter of staying as clear as possible on the slippery track. In the background, Van Anrooij joined Alverado for 3rd place a minute off the lead. The European champion held on to 7 seconds and did not give up, almost allowing her to rejoin her compatriot Pieterse on the third lap. Van Empel dropped down towards Pieterse's wheel without a scare, making the connection again and allowing the duel to begin.

But moments later Van Empel went down and had to straighten her handlebars. Her derailleur also skipped into crash mode causing the leader in the classification to lose a lot of seconds on Pieterse. She had to work her way towards the material post on her heaviest gear, making one mistake after another. Going into the fourth lap, her gap was already a full minute, but her second place seemed assured as Van Anrooij was already following at a minute and a half.

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Pieterse, too, did not remain faultless, crashing on both the penultimate and final lap. But unlike Van Empel, she did not have to deal with equipment problems and was able to solo to a fine second World Cup victory in a row. Unlucky Van Empel came second and Van Anrooij completed the podium. Van Empel remains strong leader in the standings, though.

Women's results:

  1. Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 46min 31sec
  2. Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 42sec
  3. Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 1min 47sec
  4. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 2min 6sec
  5. Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 2min 12sec
  6. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Crelan-Fristads) @ 2min 32sec
  7. Helene Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) @ 3min 1sec
  8. Inge Van der Heijden (777) @ 3min 9sec
  9. Line Burquier (Canyon CLLCTV) @ 3min 14sec
  10. Aniek Van Alphen (777) @ 3min 33sec

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