After six World Cup podiums, Michael Vanthourenhout finally won a race on Sunday, the first round of the 2020-2021 series in Tabor, Czech Republic. Wout Van Aert came third the day after he was third in the second round of the X20 Badkamers Trofee.
The 2020-2021 World Cup was originally supposed be 14 events, but COVID-19 concerns saw eight events cancelled. This left five events to ride and the World Championships.
November 29: Tabor, Czech Republic
December 20: Namur, Belgium
December 27: Dendermonde, Belgium
January 3: Hulst, the Netherlands
January 24: Overijse, Belgium
January 30/31: World Championships in Oostende, Belgium
It looked like the main competition of Van Aert, double World Cup champion, would be from the winner of the last two World Cups, Toon Aerts, and British silver medalist in the 2020 World Championships, Tom Pidcock. World champion Mathieu van der Poel wasn’t racing the dirt yet. There were no Canadians.
Laurens Sweeck had the early lead before Aerts took over. Van Aert and Pidcock were biding their time. The field was still condensed at start of Lap 2. Van Aert clambered up to fifth, but Pidcock was still delayed.
Entering the third of eight laps, Aerts led a group of eight.
The octet was intact heading into Lap 4. Pidcock was in a quartet that was closing in. Vanthourenhout attacked the leading group, hitting the line eight seconds ahead. Pidcock’s bid to bridge was undone by a crash.
The Aerts-Van Aert chase group was down to five and 17 seconds in arrears going into Lap 6. Eli Iserbyt, who won four World Cup rounds last season, attempted to bridge over.
Iserbyt was only three seconds behind entering Lap 7, with Aerts and Van Aert 14 seconds back. Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammates Vanthourenhout and Iserbyt came together. They heard the bell 12 seconds clear of Aerts and Van Aert.
On the final lap Vanthourenhout momentarily dropped Iserbyt after the latter made a mistake. Van Aert also left Aerts after a fall. Vanthourenhout went clear just after the hour mark and celebrated with gusto.
While the elite women’s podium was all Dutch, the elite men’s was all Belgian.
2020-2021 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Round 1, Elite Men
1) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 1:02:43
2) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:05
3) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) +0:12