The 2024 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, South Bohemia, Czechia reached an inevitable conclusion on Sunday with Mathieu van der Poel winning his sixth elite men’s title. Van der Poel bolted on his competitors on the first lap and never looked back. Unfortunately, both Canadian entrants were lapped and pulled.
Without Wout Van Aert and Tom Pidcock in Czechia, who could beat the rampant Mathieu van der Poel? Belgian World Cup titlist Eli Iserbyt or one of his countrymen like last year’s U23 champion Thibau Nys, Michael Vanthourenhout or Laurens Sweeck? What about van der Poel’s own compatriots: Joris Nieuwenhuis, Pim Ronhaar or X2O Badkamers Trofee leader Lars van der Haar?
Another question: who could bunnyhop the notorious Tabor planks? Turned out to be no one.
The Canadian contingent was Tyler Clark and Evan Russell.
Of course, van der Poel went right to the front after the start. Niels Vandeputte found the Dutchman’s wheel. Nieuwenhuis was in Position 3 and Iserbyt Position 5. Soon van der Poel was solo, Nieuwenhuis his closest chaser. Impressively, French rider Clement Venturini pushed into third place. Nieuwenhuis trailed by eight seconds. Venturini led a handful of chasers 25 seconds in arrears. Clark was 40th and Russel 44th.
Nieuwenhuis kept up his dogged pursuit on Lap 2 of 6. Vanthourenhout slipped into third and Ronhaar lit out after him. Nieuwenhuis was +0:12 and Vanthourenhout and Ronhaar were +0:38 at the line.
Ronhaar tried to shake Vanthourenhout on Lap 3. Van der Poel tossed his glasses and snatched a clean bike. Nieuwenhuis kept losing ground and was half a minute in arrears at the midpoint of the race. Clark sat 41st and Russell carried on in 48th.
Van der Haar had aspirations to link up with Vanthourenhout and Ronhaar as the race entered its latter half.
Vanthourenhout distanced Ronhaar in the first half of Lap 4. Van der Poel headed into the penultimate lap with a 43-second buffer.
Could Vanthourenhout catch Nieuwenhuis 13 seconds ahead? Van der Haar disappeared from the top-10 on the penultimate lap when his chain snapped and he had to run to the pits. Evan Russel got lapped.
Vanthourenhout couldn’t reel in Nieuwenhuis on the bell lap. Van der Poel took the last lap with no particular…