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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 8, 2023

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Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories

Les Woodland's book Cycling’s 50 Craziest Stories is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Hexia Cross Gullegem cyclocross race reports

Men’s Race | Women’s race

Here the men's race report from winner Wout van Aert’s Jumbo-Visma team:

Wout van Aert is enjoying extraordianry form this cross season. He wins again. Jumbo-Visma photo

Wout van Aert has won the Superprestige in Gullegem. The Belgian champion rode conservatively at first, but he soon made it clear that he was the day's best rider. His win marked Van Aert's seventh victory in cyclocross this year.

As soon as the race got underway, the Team Jumbo-Visma rider let the competition determine the tempo and remained right behind them. Michael Vanthourenhout tried to accelerate, but an alert Van Aert parried the attack. At the end of the second lap, Van Aert rode further away from Eli Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout. On the slippery course, the 28-year-old Belgian ultimately rode to victory without any problems.

"It was a difficult cross because of the rain. The course had become very technical”, Van Aert said. "It made it difficult to get the right feeling. I wanted to stay close behind the others longer today, but that made it more difficult. When I could ride my own lines, it went more smoothly. Due to the limited possibilities to employ my strength, being perfect was essential. I am overjoyed with my first victory in Gullegem. The past several weeks have gone smoothly, and I've been successful in races I had trouble with in the past."

World champion Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel withdrew from the Superprestige race. That didn't necessarily make things easier for Van Aert. "The absentees are always wrong”, Van Aert knew. "The riders who are present are motivated. That is never easy. I've had a good winter thus far, and I've made steady progress. It makes me happy."

Results:

  1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 1hr 3min 3sec
  2. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 23sec
  3. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 42sec
  4. Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 54sec
  5. Kevin Kuhn (Tormans) @ 1min 33sec
  6. Quinten Hermans (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 1min 44sec
  7. Felipte Orts Lloret (Teika-BH-GSport) @ 2min 9sec
  8. Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 2min 48sec
  9. Lander Lockx (Deschacht-Hens-Maes) @ 3min 15sec
  10. Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) @ 3min 59sec

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Women's race:

Ceylin de Carmen Alvarado can sit up and enjoy her victory.

Results:

  1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 51min 49sec
  2. Inge van der Heijden (777) @ 36sec
  3. Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) @ 46sec
  4. Zoe Backstedt (EF Education-Tibco-SVB)) @ 1min 14sec
  5. Sanne Cant (Crelan-Fristads) @ 1min 55sec
  6. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Crelan-Fristads) @ 3min 4sec
  7. Alicia Franck (De Ceuster-Bonache) @ 3min 42sec
  8. Francesca Baroni (Pissei-Group T.O.M.) @ 4min 26sec
  9. Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Nesta-MMR) @ 4min 53sec
  10. Annie Last (Scott UK) @ 5min 10sec

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Lachlan Morton returns home to Australia for Aussie road nationals

This is from Morton’s Team EF Education-EasyPost:

This year, Lachlan Morton will have more freedom than ever before.

With the whole world before him, the first thing that Lachy wanted to do was get back to his roots and race the Australian road nationals this Sunday in Ballarat.

This time, he’s not winging it. At team camp in December, his teammates already noticed something. For the first time in years, Lachy’s legs were clean shaven. He flew home to Australia for Christmas break and put together a solid block of training to prepare for Sunday’s championship. He was motivated to get fit for the year of racing he has set for himself. Lachlan’s main goal this year will be the Life Time Grand Prix, where he is excited to show up to compete with the best. He’s also looking forward to races like the Cape Epic. First up is Aussie road nationals though. Lachy is as excited as he was as a kid.

Lachlan Morton barely winning stage 5 of the 2019 Tourof Utah.

“I grew up racing Australian road races and it feels like the right thing to do when you are back in Australia,” he says. “You go stay in a motel and just do it like we used to. This is how I learned to race bikes. Because there is not a huge culture in Australia for cycling, no one just falls into it. Everyone who is involved in it is incredibly passionate about it. The majority of people have either driven ten hours or something or flown to be here. Nationals is not the biggest race in the world, but everyone treats it like it’s a world title. Everyone who shows up has been thinking of nothing but this race for at least three months. It is a cool atmosphere, and something that I wanted to experience again.”

Lachy has been doing his own hard training. Australia’s cycling culture suits him. He can go get in a solid group ride and chat with old and new mates in the mornings. He also loves exploring the roads where he first started cycling.

“It has been fun to do some structured road training and mix things up,” he says. “Australia is the one place where I really enjoy doing road rides and road training. There is a big bunch ride culture, and then when you get out onto the country roads, it is very nostalgic for me. It is a bit of a throwback for me to do road efforts and big long road rides to prepare for nationals. Regardless of what happens in the race, it has been a fun process to get ready for it and it’s good in terms of getting back in the swing of chasing goals and trying to race fast again.”

In Ballarat, Lachy won’t be looking for a ride down memory lane. Sunday’s road race is going to be brutal. It takes place on the classic 11.7-km circuit up and down Mount Buninyong. Australia’s best WorldTour pros will be vying for the green and gold jersey against a domestic peloton that is in the full throes of the southern summer of racing. Lachy thinks he’s got the legs to be in the game. This time, he is racing for himself. In the past, he has always spent his best legs at nationals working for someone else. If he plays his cards right on Sunday, who knows?


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"Everyone who shows up has been thinking of nothing but this race for at least three months. It is a cool atmosphere, and something that I wanted to experience again." - Lachlan Morton

“Traditionally, this race is either the absolute strongest person wins just through a matter of force and with the help of a strong team or it’s like a lottery,” he says. “You never know what is going to happen and I am glad that I have at least got a ticket to play the game.”

Lachy still loves that game, even if he now races on his own terms. He’s enjoying the process of getting fighting fit too.

“I can feel myself getting better and stronger and have been making some more rational decisions around training and starting to try and identify some realistic goals and doing the things you need to do to perform,” he says. “This is just the first little test, and like I said, regardless of what happens, I am going to learn a lot from it and be able to improve out of it. Over Christmas, you do feel like, Ah why did I commit to doing this? It is just in the back of your head, and you want to relax and drink another beer, but then think, I should probably not. There was a week there, where I was like, Who am I kidding? But now getting here and taking a little ride around the course today, it feels nice to be here. I am excited to get in there and see what happens.”

After this weekend, Lachy will turn his attention to the Life Time Grand Prix and the Cape Epic.

“Now I know what it is and how to approach it, it is going to be really fun,” he says. “The focus now is to try and win some of them, or at least be racing right at the front. I am also building towards Cape Epic, which I am really excited about and really nervous about, which is a cool feeling, to be worried about bike races again. I am going to show up to be competitive, which will be cool and a very different experience to last time, so that has been a really good solid motivation. This is the first time in a number of years that I have had a pretty clear idea of what I am going to do and how I am going to approach and prepare for the races for the year ahead.”

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