World Cup #1
It was a tough weekend for Jingle Cross's defending champions, as neither Katie Compton nor Wout Van Aert were able to contend for a victory. Compton crashed early and hard, losing all hope of keeping up with the flying Katerina Nash. Van Aert rode like he forgot to pack his racing legs. Meanwhile, Mathieu Van Der Poel was two minutes ahead, lonely and powerful, on his way to statement victory. In the women's race, Katerina Nash ripped through the Luge Run descent too fast for anyone else to have any chance of bridging up to the Czech rider.
Sophie de Boer took the hole shot in the women's race, and the racers stayed together, more or less, for two laps. Nash moved to the front early, but did not get separation from the field. Katie Compton found herself mid-pack after a slow start -- not unusual for Compton in an elite World Cup field -- and on lap two put the power down to make an incredible move up from the top 12. On the third lap, Nash and Compton had a gap and it looked like the two clearly strongest riders would take it to the line. Unfortunately, a crash shortly thereafter ended Compton's chances. Compton looked very strong on a fast day, having recovered well from her huge effort to move up and easily matching Nash's pace.
Now we have to wait to see if Compton even rides on her sponsor Trek's home turf next week. According to her husband and mechanic Mark Legg, Compton may have suffered a dislocated shoulder, and Compton will be evaluated for a possible broken sternum. Her Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrKatieCompton/status/909498912616071168
Katie Keough looked like, maybe, if the race was longer, she could have crawled onto Nash's wheel. Keough rode away from fellow chasers Cant and de Boer, but she still wasn't descending anywhere near the rate of Nash. In the end Nash kept her pace high enough through the power sections of the course to maintain an advantage, and she soloed to victory by 12 seconds over Keough. World champ Sanne Cant out-sprinted Sophie de Boer on the line for third.
The men's race was over as soon as they left the line. Mathieu Van Der Poel took the hole shot and one hour, six minutes, and 28 seconds later rode across the line alone. Forty-three seconds later, Quinten Hermans and Laurens Sweeck fought for second, with Sweeck coming out ahead. Defending champ, and current rainbow jersey holder, Wout Van Aert finished in near obscurity -- 2:19 after Van Der Poel.
Coming to Iowa with apparently tremendous mountain bike fitness, Van Der Poel had a thirteen second lead before lap one was over. For a couple laps, Van Aert looked like he might have a decent race as he lead the chase group on lap two (Hermans, at the moment, was in no man's land between Van Der Poel and the chase group). By lap four, Sweeck had moved into second, and Van Aert continued to drift backwards. Hermans broke free of the chase group and joined Sweeck. That was the race for the remaining six laps.
For Hermans, Jingle Cross was huge leap. He's shown a lot of promise in his young career and he turned in his best World Cup result of his career. Van Der Poel looked unstoppable in Iowa, but maybe Hermans will close the gap between himself and Van Aert and Van Der Poel sooner than later.
Trek CXC is up next on the world cup schedule, just six days after Jingle Cross. The course in Waterloo has far less climbing, so the races should be a bit different, even if the results are not.
Friday and Saturday Races
Friday night's C1 races featured some, but far from all, top talent. Notably missing from the start line was Wout Van Aert, Mathieu Van Der Poel, Sophie de Boer, Katerine Nash, and Eva Lechner.
In the women's race, Katie Keough took a 17 second victory over Katie Compton. Caroline Mani was third.
Laurens Sweeck won the men's race over Quinten Hermans and Lars Van Der Haar.
Saturday's C2 race featured, unsuprisingly, almost every top rider taking the night off. Here's the podium from each race.
1. Sunny Gilbert
2. Clara Honsinger +12
3. Sofia Gomez-Villafane +42
1. Gianni Vermeersch
2. Steve Chainel +6
3. Tobin Ortenblad +13
Other Notes and Observations
- Keough added to her strong showing in Rochester with a great race to take 2nd in the Iowa World Cup, having also won Friday nights C1. She rode well in Waterloo last year, so look for her to find her way back to the podium.
-Nash won this race on the strength of her descending skill. On the flats and through the sand, Keough was making up ground, but Nash owned the descents. It was a clinic in going downhill.
-On a fast and dry course, most riders chose a low knob tire to get just enough grip on the grass to stay upright. Keough rode on Challenge Baby Limus. I don't know if that slowed her at all, but the Baby Limus excels on a course that is just a little bit wetter than it was. They have great cornering capability, but do roll a little more slowly on dry dirt and hardpack.
-Ellen noble hopped the barriers! She's the first woman to do that in a World Cup, after being first to do that in a UCI race a couple nights before.
-The Jingle Cross course has a lot of climbing, and Trek's course next week looks dead flat in comparison. There's a good chance some strong performances from Sunday's race won't translate to Waterloo.
-Van Der Poel carried a bottle. I didn't notice other top riders with bottles. It was an interesting choice since it wasn't a particularly warm race (74F), though it had been hotter earlier in the day (90F). It's unlikely that the race would have been closer had he not carried anything, but it's interesting nonetheless.
-Van Der Poel's slowest lap came just before he pitted and took a new bike. He didn't appear to have issues, and he signaled to his pit crew he was coming in at the next half lap. I don't think he had a bottle on his B bike, so I would guess he just was looking to get a refilled bottle.
-Stephen Hyde was your 2nd highest placed American in the men's race at 23rd. Surely he was disappointed after last years 10th, that could have been much higher if not for his hard crash.
-Kerry Werner placed highest in the men's race among US of Aers. This comes on the heels of his c2 win a week prior in Rochester. His rise to the upper level of American cyclocross might be something to watch this season.