In his first year racing at the elite level, Thibau Nys won Sunday’s opening round of the 2023-2024 UCI Cyclocross World Cup on a challenging course in Waterloo, Wisconsin, USA. Nys’s Baloise Trek Lions teammate Pim Ronhaar enjoyed his first elite World Cup podium, with Eli Iserbyt the runner-up. Ian Ackert was the top Canadian in 18th.
There was no Wout Van Aert, World champion Mathieu van der Poel or World Cup title holder Laurens Sweeck in Waterloo, but Superprestige series titlist Lars van der Haar and X2O Badkamers Trofee winner Iserbyt were in the house. Iserbyt took the Waterloo round last season.
The Canadian contingent consisted of Tyler Clark, Luke Valenti, Ian Ackert, Cody Scott, Michael van den Ham and Mika Komaniuk.
Iserbyt took the hole shot on Lap 1. He led Witse Meeussen and Michael Vanthourenhout around the circuit. Ian Ackert was 16th early in the lap. The Pauwels Sauzen rider opened up a little space before Pim Ronhaar roared into Position 2 and then joined him. Nys moved into third. Iserbyt, Ronhaar and Nys crossed the line together after an 8:29 lap. Van den Ham was top Canadian in 19th.
Nys forged on ahead on Lap 2 by riding up the stairs. A dab of the foot brought Iserbyt and Ronhaar back. Ronhaar attacked and Iserbyt had to chase. Ackert and van den Ham were in the 20th and 21st spots.
On Lap 3 of 7, Nys shook loose of Iserbyt, the three-time winner in Waterloo having trouble with a shoe that he had to change in the pits. Nys found his teammate Ronhaar out front and the Baloise Trek Lions duo finished the lap 14 seconds ahead of Iserbyt.
Nys rode the steep run-up on Lap 4 and found himself solo, crossing the line five seconds ahead of Ronhaar and 12 ahead of Iserbyt. Ackert bounced up to 19th. Ackert was up to 17th.
Nys bolstered his lead on Lap 5. Iserbyt found Ronhaar and then tried to shake him. Nys couldn’t relax for a second with Iserbyt only 12 seconds behind. On the penultimate lap, Ronhaar lost contact with Iserbyt. Nys would hang on by 16 seconds.
The next World Cup race is October 29 in Maasmechelen, Belgium.
2023-2024 UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Waterloo
1) Thibau Nys (Belgium/Baloise Trek Lions) 56:59
2) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) +0:16
3) Pim Ronhaar (The…