Race Thread

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I guess the puncture monster has bitten evenly at World Championships now, MVDP in 2017 and WvA in this edition.
2015 doesn't count? Because everybody seems to be forgetting van Aert was the strongest in that race.

The puncture was obviously unfortunate, critical, and possibly decisive. I'm not prepared to say it cost WVA the race, but it's hard to imagine a more critical juncture when it could have occurred.

On the other hand, MVDP was better on the bridge climbs (not a surprise, to me) and improved in the sand over the course of the race while Wout seemed to get worse (definitely surprising). The gap after Mathieu's crash had stabilized and was starting to come down before the puncture. Certainly a "mentally tough" performance by the winner, which might come as a surprise to some in the previous pages of this thread.
You mean after van Aert had to ride half a lap on a flat tire and had to gass himself trying to come back? You don't say.
The gap after the crash came down, and then went back up, and then went back down when van Aert punctured. Impossible to conclude that van der Poel was coming back. And just like Wout 10 minutes later, and just like Mathieu last week... coming back doesn't mean anything when you have to go in the red, because you'll cook yourself in the long run. Had Mathieu had a puncture at the moment van Aert closed the gap to 3 seconds, right before the bridge, would you also be saying: "well, van Aert already closed the gap after his puncture anyway, so...".
The puncture, and the distance van Aert had to travel before getting a new bike, decided the race. Plain and simple. That doesn't mean Mathieu didn't ride a strong second part of the race, or that he doesn't deserve it, but the race was decided by the puncture.
 
^^In the end it was decided by the puncture but at the time I thought WvA would come back. He looked just a tiny bit stronger and more confident than VdP up to that point. And he had just 9 seconds coming out of the pit after the bike change. So I really did think he'd bridge across. But somewhere upthread the point was made the VdP might be better with a lead than having to chase -- I can't say if that's a pattern across his career, certain Alaphilippe and Fuglsang would beg to differ -- but today it seemed that taking the lead energized him and settled him down a bit. He did say that he rode the sand much better in the second half.

Another point that I think we can all agree on is that VdP has just incredible bike skills. I thought for sure he'd blown in when his right foot came out of the pedal on the (21%!) bridge, but no, just slammed it back in and continued on...I'd have been sliding back down the hill on my a** if that were me...so well deserved win all around.
 
I think in general being in the lead gives you a mental advantage. At least that’s what Wout also said in a post-race interview and imo Mathieu is also much more “himself” when in the lead. He’s a much better leader than he is a chaser.

Personally I think both positions are pretty stressful. Being chased by someone as strong as you are is pretty stressful imo. Can’t afford to make a mistake or you’re caught. As a chaser it’s the same. Can’t make a mistake or he’s gone, have to keep the leader within striking distance to have a chance.
 
Jan 31, 2021
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When do we think Van Aert actually flatted? He said just after the second pit (when van der Poel pitted). MVDP had brought the gap down from 16 or 17 seconds to about 11 going over the bridge -- MVDP gained time on the final two shorter sand sections and bridge each lap but for the second -- and into the pits, and came out of the pits with a 13 second disadvantage at 18:50 (race time). That gap held at 13 until just over 20 minutes. All this while van der Poel was putting down the fastest lap of the race. Seems unlikely he was significantly flat during that minute. Wout gets passed at 21:40 and gets a new bike at 22:30.

The likeliest spot to me a flat would have happened was at the entry or exit of the concrete section by the SimplyRent inflatable (just after 20 minutes).

Another thing I noticed on second viewing of the race was some great Belgian teamwork in the first lap just as they hit the faster surface along the water. Aerts sprinted through the sand off the bridge to get ahead of van der Poel and then stopped and put a foot down in front of MVDP who had to pull a foot out, and then Vantorenhout (I think) sprinted ahead of Mathieu and immediately left a gap for him to close to Van Aert.
 
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I was getting kind of used to the lack of spectators throughout the season, but at the Worlds, it was a huge buzzkill for me. Not only because there's always a different atmosphere at a WC, also because Oostende is a not a classic cx race and therefore the presence of spectators make an even bigger difference than on tracks like Gavere, Namen, Overijse etc.

It definitely had an impact on the race as well. Wout mentioning he didn't have this extra 'mental gear' he normally has, wouldn't be the case in a Worlds stacked with crazy fans.

Anyway, about the race. Being the chaser on this course was more disadvantageous than on most other courses imo. You could see MVDP catching a breath before every hard section so he could tackle those fresher meanwhile Wout couldn't really afford that. Especially keeping in mind that the tiniest of mistakes easily cost 5 to 10 seconds, complicates making up ground even more. Maybe Wout focused too much on catching Mathieu asap rather than finding his own tempo, blowing himself up in the process. But that's easy to say from the sidelines.

Well, it was nice to learn a bit about the sport from you. If he flatted at the pits it didn't affect his speed for about a minute and a half, which is a feat in itself.
His tyre was flattening gradually.
 
Some race fact comparisons:

Overall
Elite men (winner) almost 2 minutes per lap faster than elite women (winner) and about 1 minute per lap faster than U23 men. Last elite man to finish all laps (Curtis White at #20) just about the same lap times as Pim Ronhaar winner in U23.

MVDP vs WVA
Lap 1: MVDP and WVA clean starts, Wout first on the sand and rides it clean, MVDP off the bike and then struggles on the wet beach. MVDP catches up with Wout at the bridge and rides on his wheel throughout the rest of the first lap. Bothe riders evenly matched at 7:18 (tot 7.28) and already 14 seconds on the next group with Aerts, Sweeck etc.

Lap 2: MVDP first out on the sand and rides it clean as do Wout. Then on the second sand MVDP loses it and Wout gets a 4 seconds gap onto the bridge. MVDP looks really under pressure. Gap hovers around 3 seconds and then... MVDP crashes out in the rut (12:31 into the race). Back onto the bike having lost 8 more seconds. Looking really shaken up.Wout riding really well and puts in (what shall be) the second fastest lap of the day at 7:13. Mathieu crosses with a 15 seconds deficit having lost in total 12 seconds on the crash. Aerts at third 28 seconds behind.

Lap 3: All top three rides the sand sections superbly between bridges. Wout holds a 11 second gap on top of the bridge, no puncture yet discerneble. Wout pass the pit but Mathieu goes in for a bike change - gap still at 11 seconds. At the point where MVDP crashed Wout rides the deep rut (19:45) but still looks ok. Then at the short asphalt section at 20:12-20:14 it actually looks like he is having the flat because suddenly the gaps starts to drop significantly. Wout gets passed right after the bridge and is 4 seconds behind at the lap crossing with a 7:30 lap while Mathieu has made his (and all) fastest lap of the day at 7:11.

Lap 4: Wout goes in for a bike change at 22:32 having ridden about 2:00 minutes with a flat front tyre. Deficit out of the pit is 10 seconds so a total of 21 seconds lost, however it must be noted that MVDP rode his fastest lap so "real" time lost due to the flat might have been some 15 seconds. Now Wout looks labored, Yet both rides the sand perfectly and Wout takes back a (1) second to the top of the bridge. On the hippodrome Wout rides really well and manages to claw back a few more seconds and passes onto lap 5 with a 8 second gap having done a 07:25 lap vs Mathieu at 07:21.

Lap 5: Perfect riding and running through first sand stretch and Wout only 4 seconds behind and shrinking. Then first one miss and off the bike by Wout and then one more. At the top of the bridge the gap is now back out at 13 seconds. Both riders passing the grassy section without mishaps and ends the lap at a 14 seconds gap with Wout doing a 7:26 lap and Mathieu a 7:20 lap.

Lap 6: Wout has to get off his bike again right before the bridge and the gap goes out another 5 seconds. Rest of the lap ridden perfectly by Mathieu and Wout losing another 4 seconds with gap at 22 seconds at the end of lap 6. MVDP puts in the third fastest lap of the day at 7:14 vs Wout at 7:22.

Lap 7 & 8: MVDP rides clean and relaxed putting in 7:25 and 7:31 vs Wout at 7:32 and 7:39.

I would say that Wout lost it on lap 5 on the second sand passage where he had to run two times and the gap went from 3-4 seconds out to 13 seconds. Mathieu effectively closed it on lap 6 with a super fast lap and from there on only a major mistake/mechanical could have changed the race.

The flat costed Wout some 15 seconds but he was on his way to close the gap but lost it in the sand and Mathieu lost some 10 seconds on his crash. Probably it can still be argued back and forth and what-if-not but in the end crashes and punctures are part of the sport.
 
Tire technology is pretty advanced and these guys are running low pressures so it probably wasn't noticeable...until it was.

Again, though, this race (and the women's) just reinforced what an insular sport CX is right now. I know, I know, in the past you had a wider variety of contenders, the presence of Stybar struggling to make top 20 just underlined that point. But at the same time, the fact that it was such an exciting race with only 2 real contenders shows why CX needs to try, once again, to attract better riders from more countries....
 
^^very interesting. That makes sense for Pidcock. He's smaller and lighter, maybe less absolute power than the other two, so might have had a more difficult time plowing through the sand but easier up that steep bridge and around the tight corners.
 
Very detailed summary but the overall picture gets somewhat lost.

First MVDP loses 3-4 secs on mistake in the sand and then it adds up to 15 seconds from the crash. Slowly by slowly Mathieu picks his way back (down to about 10 secs) and then Wout has his flat and quickly loses some 20 secs.

After getting a new bike Wout fights his way back and on lap 5 after the first sand he is just about to catch Mathieu, but misses out, has to run, loses a few seconds but cooks himself, misses one more time on the sand and when he gets to the top of the bridge he is 13 secs behind. He then makes a second attempt to get back and manages to close the gap down to 9 secs over the long sand stretch. And then again, just before the bridge he has to get off the bike and run with a loss of another 5 secs. After that he is gassed and is consistently slower than Mathieu. It was there and then it all happened. Surely the flat impacted negatively but he was within grasps of catching Mathieu but maybe/likely due to that previous effort he couldn't hold the technique in the sand together. Wout made his best lap when Mathieu had crashed and Mathieu did his best lap on the lap Wout flatted.

In my eyes without both the crash AND the flat the outcome would not have changed. Without the flat but still with the crash? Probably the dynamics would have changed with Mathieu chasing, being more prone to mistakes and Wout possibly more relaxed. Now the table turned and Wout had the stress and the mistakes.
 
Very detailed summary but the overall picture gets somewhat lost.

First MVDP loses 3-4 secs on mistake in the sand and then it adds up to 15 seconds from the crash. Slowly by slowly Mathieu picks his way back (down to about 10 secs) and then Wout has his flat and quickly loses some 20 secs.

After getting a new bike Wout fights his way back and on lap 5 after the first sand he is just about to catch Mathieu, but misses out, has to run, loses a few seconds but cooks himself, misses one more time on the sand and when he gets to the top of the bridge he is 13 secs behind. He then makes a second attempt to get back and manages to close the gap down to 9 secs over the long sand stretch. And then again, just before the bridge he has to get off the bike and run with a loss of another 5 secs. After that he is gassed and is consistently slower than Mathieu. It was there and then it all happened. Surely the flat impacted negatively but he was within grasps of catching Mathieu but maybe/likely due to that previous effort he couldn't hold the technique in the sand together. Wout made his best lap when Mathieu had crashed and Mathieu did his best lap on the lap Wout flatted.

In my eyes without both the crash AND the flat the outcome would not have changed. Without the flat but still with the crash? Probably the dynamics would have changed with Mathieu chasing, being more prone to mistakes and Wout possibly more relaxed. Now the table turned and Wout had the stress and the mistakes.
Yeah... It can be analyzed to the ground and we’re still left with “we’ll never know”. Either that or the fanboys will see it the way that favors their rider. It’s an endless discussion.

Personally I feel that Mathieu was on his way back to the wheel of Wout after his first mistake in the sand before he somehow ran into that rut. In other words, without the crash and the flat we would have still seen an epic duel.

However, the crash gave Wout the chance to distance Mathieu further because he obviously had to get up and back on his bike, compose himself and had a broken saddle to boot. So all of that needs to be taken into account as well when factoring in how much seconds was gained from that crash.

In that same breath, Wout’s flat couldn’t have come at a worse time. Who knows how much energy that took that could have otherwise gone in keeping Mathieu away.

Though as already mentioned, it seems like he was already starting to close the gap. So he might have just been better on the day seeing how he rode the second part of the race.

Then of course you’d have to consider the mental aspect of the stress of being the chaser vs the confidence of being the leader and how that might have affected both riders when the roles were switched.

And so we’re back at the only real conclusion being that we will never truly know and we will all have to live with that. Mechanicals are a part of the game, as much as I despise it. Same thing happened to Mathieu in Overijse.
 

Interesting article on the development of cyclocross and young riders. Also that on Brand. She really has stepped up her technique. Surely she had the motor but this year most of her rides have been really stable and albeit Alvarado may edge her on really technical courses Brand is clearly looking better on the bike. Hope more pro teams see the potential to grow the elite ranks by nurturing young riders through cyclocross.
 
Reactions: Axel Hangleck
Anyone knows why Ben Tulett didn't do a single race this winter?

Is he focusing on the road from now on or did he have some injury?
Not sure. His last race was Liege on the road, but seems to have been spending a lot of time in Spain training with his older brother. Interestingly they seemed to be mainly focused on mtb and cx as youths and juniors. As theyve got older, they seem to be more focused on road and cx, with Dan looking to focus mainly on the road now with a sprinkling of mtb last year. They've been national champs at youth and junior in all three disciplines, so I guess they can pick and choose what they want to focus and develop in.
 
Reactions: Ricco'
UCI World Cup calendar for next season. That USA rounds are pretty bad positioned.

With the World Champs in Fayetteville, why aren't the USA legs in the two weeks prior to the WC? Money savings for the Europeans, who don't need to take two trips around the globe during one season, more time to get rid of the jetlag (going from Hoogerheide, on a sunday, with the first races in Arkansas taking place on next saturday) and with Van Aert, Van der Poel and Pidcock most likely starting their cross seasons late once again, the american audience isn't going to see the biggest names of the sport on their World Cups.

10/10 Waterloo
13/10 Fayetteville
17/10 Iowa City
24/10 Zonhoven
31/10 Overijse
14/11 Tabor
21/11 Koksijde
28/11 Besançon
05/12 Lieu à attribuer
12/12 Lieu à attribuer
18/12 Antwerpen
19/12 Namur
26/12 Dendermonde
02/01 Hulst
16/01 Flamanville
23/01 Hoorgerheide
 
If you're serious about winning the Worlds, then you'll have to get out there early to acclimatise - meaning missing the final World Cup.
And while it's not a surprise, there's lots of big cycling nations not represented in the World Cup; I hope one day we see a World Cup with rounds in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and even here in the UK.

I'd also like to see RedBull being the promoters, instead of Flanders Classics; they're far superior in how they run off road cycling.
 
idk If the US World Cups were held in January, combined with Nationals and Worlds, you'd kill off the whole month .
With the schedule like it is now, riders can ride double races on the 3rd and 4th weekends.
I also doubt the top riders would actually go to 2 US- based World Cup races in January. Certainly not VdP or WvA since they'll have already missed too many races to care about the overall.
 
The Flobikes guys were intimating that MVDP and WVA may not even come over (to the USA) for the WC's. Not sure why they think that. Sounds kind've ridiculous that they would skip.
 
The Flobikes guys were intimating that MVDP and WVA may not even come over (to the USA) for the WC's. Not sure why they think that. Sounds kind've ridiculous that they would skip.
Van Aert wrote on his Instagram after last sunday that next season the rainbow bands will remain on his arms but he will try to put them back on his chest next year.

Van der Poel also said that if it's up to him we will travel to Arkansas.
 

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