Another race, another Mathieu van der Poel victory, as the world champion earned the flowers in Sunday’s final round of the 2023-2024 UCI Cross World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. It was van der Poel’s fifth win in the 2023-2024 World Cup and eleventh of the season. Who can stop him from repeating as world champion next weekend? Fifth place Eli Iserbyt claimed his second World Cup title, his first coming in 2021-2022. Tyler Clark was the top Canadian in 38th.
Earlier in the day, Ian Ackert placed 11th in the U23 race.
The Situation Before Sunday
Double round winner Eli Iserbyt pretty much had the title wrapped up before Hoogerheide, Joris Nieuwenhuis the closest to him in the standings 34 points back.
The Canadian contingent was Tyler Clark and Evan Russel.
Unfortunately, two Crelan-Corendon riders crashed right at the start. Lars van der Haar shuffled to the front on Lap 1 with Laurens Sweeck in Position 2. First Iserbyt and then Kevin Kuhn grabbed the reins as the string stayed long. Van der Poel bided his time in third. Niewenhuis led the way over the line.
The race headed into Lap 2 without breaks in the long, multicoloured serpent. Iserbyt kept close tabs on Nieuwenhuis. When Ryan Kamp crashed on the planks, he took down Michael Vanthourenhout, who looked disgusted.
With Iserbyt on the front at the beginning of Lap 3 of 9, van der Poel lurked in Position 2. Dublin round victor Pim Ronhaar took his turn pulling the group. Finally, there was some separation, with Ronhaar, van der Poel, Iserbyt, Nieuwenhuis and Thibau Nys the elite quintet. Clark was 36th and Russel 45th.
On Lap 4 van der Haar toiled to make a leading sextet with four Baloise Trek Lions. In fact, the slow pace meant that the group ballooned to a dozen. Nys seized the steering wheel to thin out the numbers.
No decisive moves came on Lap 5 as Nys continued to be the train’s engine, but his pace whittled down the numbers. On Lap 6, first van der Poel and then Ronhaar nearly lost control in the thick mud. The world champion attacked up a climb and only Nys was able to hang. Dutch champion Nieuwnhuis joined them and Iserbyt and Ronhaar were close behind by the line.
It was as-you-were at the start of Lap 6: van der Poel, Nieuwenhuis, Nys, Iserbyt and Ronhaar together again. Van der Haar continued to work his way over on Lap 7….