Cyclocross World Cup: Laurens Sweeck sprints to victory

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Laurens Sweeck sprinted to victory on Sunday to win the UCI Cyclocross World Cup stage in Beekse Bergen.

Lars van der Haar moved up to second, with Michael Vanthourenhout settling into third after leading for most of the last lap.

“I sprinted from pretty far, but I knew we were going fast, and it was hard to stay on the wheel,” Sweeck said. “I went full from the start of the sprint, and I thought they were on the wheel, but they weren’t.

“I’m almost at my best. I was a little sick last week, but when I took two wins in one week, I didn’t feel 100 percent. The races were really good.”

Going into the closing laps, there were still 15 riders within 20 seconds, but a leading group pulled away.

Vanthourenhout, Sweeck, Van der Haar, and Joris Nieuwenhuis kept a small gap to world cup leader Eli Iserbyt, who continued to fight through minor crashes and misfortunes only to catch up.

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With two laps to go in the eight-lap race, Sweeck dropped the hammer to try to jump to the front of the race. Vanthourenhout kept digging to stay on his wheel. Van der Haar regained contact through the sand to set up the bell lap with five riders still in contention for the win, with Iserbyt yo-yoing off the back.

“I had a bad start and I slipped a pedal,” said Iserbyt. “I’m lucky to be able to get back in front, but I had a few mistakes that I couldn’t be in a position to win. I can be happy with the result, but it’s a shame for me today.”

Vanthourenhout pounced on the final lap, with Van der Haar and Sweeck on the rivet to stay close. Iserbyt moves into third over the barriers, with the race knotted going into the deciding sand.

Five came up for a five-up sprint on the floor, and Sweeck uncorked an unbeatable sprint to the line. It was good for his second World Cup win this season.

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“I know I’m not the best sprinter in the group,” Vanthourenhout said. “I think third was the best possible in that situation. I tried everything I could in the last lap to drop everyone, but it wasn’t possible.”

Rounding out the top-10 was Spain’s Felipe Orts with sixth, marking the best result by an elite male Spanish rider ever in a cyclocross World Cup.

Making order out of chaos

A group pulled away in the middle lap on Sunday. (Photo: DAVID PINTENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunday’s race in Beekse Bergen was the first time the World Cup was contested on the Dutch course. A similar layout was used for the 2013 Dutch national championships, but with a mixture of grass, tight turns, some sandy and tight sections, along with some man-made obstacles, the course featured a tight backdrop for the fifth time of 2022. -23 World Cup.

As expected for the Netherlands, there was almost no significant elevation. Under cool temperatures, sunny skies, and a light afternoon wind, the technical, fast, mostly dry course provided a test of safety and the ability to make short accelerations.

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The race has been interesting in that many of the stars of more multidisciplinary disciplines are set to meet at the World Cup, with world champion Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel ready to return.

Van der Haar and Sweeck opened a small gap in turn 2 when there was a hiccup in the row of riders behind them. Precision was key in the technical course laced with roots, sand, and loose terrace.

By lap 5, Nieuwenhuis was moving to the front, with Van der Haar, Vanthourenhout and Sweeck in hot pursuit. WorldCup leader Iserbyt had some problems at the start, and fought his way back to fly to around 15 seconds.

Entering lap 6 of 8 laps, Iserbyt chased the lead four, but spun out on a corner forcing him to chase again.


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