Photography by Dave Hayward
Continuing with the UCI CX Worl Cup Theme we went to the old F1 race circuit in Zolder Belgium for the next round of the Telnet UCI World Cup Cyclocross. With another mega early start for the EuroTunnel train we were on wet roads of the E40 heading towards Brussels the Zolder. Just after 9am we were parked and walking to the start area for the Junior race.
Dan Tulett was the only Brit in this race. with damp conditions for the riders the bunch soon split up with Thymen Arensman, and Toom Vandebosch up front Dan was with a small chasing group. On the last lap he as on his own holding on for 5th place. For Thymen and Toon it was going to be a head to head sprint for which Thymen Arensman got the better of Toon Vandebosch by a bike length.
The U23 race was won by Joris Nieuwenuis. While this was going on we were scouting the circuit for photo opportunities for the next 2 races.
The course which twisted around the Motor race circuit grandstand then out towards some woods, nearly covered most of the grand prix track. There were some areas that were not accessible, these happened to be where some of the race deciding action was. The only media coverage on those areas where the TV cameras. The crowds were building, and the early morning rain was clearing way to some brilliant blue skies. After some chips covered with mayonnaise we agreed on some locations for the next 2 races, the first being the women's Elite, and women under 23.
Liam, whom drive us to the events and passed on valuable info on the riders was pleased that his favorite woman rider Sophie De Boer was riding after she had a crash at a cross race on the Friday at the Superprestige Cross race Diegem.
Marianne Vos put up a better race starting at the back of her race as an unseeded rider. After her win at the Superprestige race on Friday. Marianne soon picked her way through the field catching up with the leaders, then with a lap to go she finally go some clear space for an impressive loan victory ahead of Sanne Cant of Belgium.
The Mens race was more of a formality for Van Aert. He'd recently won the World Cycloss Championship at Zolder, so he was looking forward to a 2nd victory. Van Aert got a clean start to get away away leaving his rivals on the first lap with impressive riding style. Though the race was not incident free for Van Aert coming off his bike a couple of times, Van Der Poel was having similar issues ending up with a bike failure on the last lap.
The crowd was amazing again full of cheer and beer, music booming out from the party tent, mixed with big roaring shouts as Van Aert passed through, then the murmuring silence as spectators, and fans move location through the designated passing points. Soon we were both heading back down the E40 to Calais, with Liam chatting on how good the day was for him. For me this is a fitting end to the 2016 racing year, and what a year it has been!