Canada’s Ian Ackert was never below ninth place in Saturday’s U23 men’s race at the 2024 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, Czechia, and he finished in sixth on a slow, greasy course. Dutchman Tibor del Grosso, last year’s runner-up, was tops in Tabor.
The favourites were Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Deceunicnk teammate del Grosso, Belgians Emiel Verstrynge and Ward Huybs, and Frenchmen Remi Lelandais and Leo Bisiaux, 2023’s junior champion.
The Canadian contingent was Ian Ackert, who started on the second row, and Cody Scott out of a field of 57.
How many laps would the U23 men get on the heavy, 3.45-km course? Ackert more or less avoided a huge crash in the pack before the first ramp and climbed it in ninth place. Danny van Lierop led the way for del Grosso. Bisiaux claimed the front spot with Verstrynge on his six. Ackert had Frenchman Corentin Lequet to run down for eighth place. Del Grosso and Verstrynge put a little real estate between themselves and the rest of the field. The Canadian pushed into fifth. The two leaders were two seconds ahead of Bisiaux and Belgian Jente Michels.
On Lap 2 of 5 Michels made it over to support Verstrynge and Bisiaux latched on as well. Del Grosso then powered away and Verstrynge and Michels had to chase hard. Ackert continued in fifth place ahead of a handful of Dutchmen and Belgians. Michels slipped back to pursue with Bisiaux. Del Grosso ate a gel crossing the line six seconds clear. Ackert was 28 second behind Michels and Bisiaux.
Ackert couldn’t shake Belgian passengers Arne Baers and Victor van den Putte, who threatened to swamp him on Lap 3. In the podium battle, Michels dumped Bisiaux. There was no bunnyhopping the planks on this course. Riders started getting lapped. Del Grosso’s lead was up to 14 seconds going into the penultimate lap. Ackert had Belgian and French company by the end of the middle circuit.
Ackert went back to the front of the Canadian-Belgian-French chase group at the beginning of the penultimate lap. Verstrynge and Michels came together to pursue the man in orange out front.
Del Grosso had 23 seconds when he heard the bell. Remi Lelandais led the Ackert group over the line. Lelandais took his leave early in the last lap. Tibor grabbed a…