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Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) made it two wins out of three in the final American round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Iowa City. On a phenomenally fast course, the 23-year-old from Kortrijk narrowly beat Lars van der Haar (Trek-Baloise Lions) and team-mate Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).
It was a fitting end to a memorable week of elite cyclocross in the American midwest. With a raft of supporting events, including a gravel race, a Grinch kids race, and even a race for dogs, Iowa City Jinglecross is the biggest cyclocross and gravel festival in North America. It is also the longest-running American World Cup, having been part of the series since 2016.
44 riders across nine nations took the start on a warm and sunny afternoon. With the track running dry and hard-packed the riders were ready for a fast race. Most chose intermediate or all-rounder tires such as the Challenge Grifo, running pressures around 24 psi, considerably higher than in Fayetteville or Waterloo. Unusually, some of the riders also had a bottle on their bikes to counter the heat.
Iowa City was the scene of Eli Iserbyt’s breakthrough World Cup win in 2019 but the story of the 2021 season so far has been Quinten Herman’s emergence as a contender for the World Cup. Hermans (Tormans Circus), the winner in the Fayetteville mud, led the pack away from the line and into a series of grassy bends, with team-mate Corne Van Kessel and Niels Vandeputte (Trek-Baloise Lions), winner of yesterday’s C2 supporting race, in close attendance.
On the first ascent of Mount Krumpit the gradient and rutted surface meant that only the first ten riders were able to stay on their bikes. Hermans dominated the first lap with the first twenty riders lined out behind him. On the second lap a group of five went clear on the first of the three climbs per lap, including Iserbyt, Hermans, van der Haar, Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Vanthourenhout.
Hermans accelerated hard next time up Mount Krumpit and opened up a small gap. Iserbyt saw the danger and quickly bridged up to the Tormans Circus rider. Van der Haar and Vanthourenhout chased back on the fourth of 10 laps to form the leading group of four, and Toon Aerts bridged a lap later.
Iserbyt attacked Mount Krumpit hard on the 6th lap, taking Aerts and Hermans with him, but shortly after Aerts blew spectacularly, having to pull over to let Hermans jump across to Iserbyt’s wheel. Iserbyt promptly sat up Van Der Haar, Aerts, and Vanthourenhout back to the front.
The decisive moment came when Hermans’ bunnyhopping skills deserted him at the double plank. He went over the handlebars, dropped his chain, and finished the lap 22 seconds behind Iserbyt and van der Haar, who saw their opportunity. Over the final three laps, Iserbyt repeatedly put down the pressure on the climbs to pull clear of Van Der Haar.
After a breakthrough performance in Fayetteville, U.S National Champion Gage Hecht (Aevolo) continued to show his promise with 15th place in Iowa. Curtis White (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com) finished just behind him in 16th.
Now the World Cup community flies back to Europe. Expect the riders’ social media to show them trying to get some sleep as they shake off jet lag before next weekend’s racing. And it’s a hard one: after the Superprestige race at Ruddervoorde, the fourth round of the World Cup takes the riders into the infamous sandpit of Zonhoven, Belgium.
2021 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Iowa City Elite Men’s Results
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), 59:10
- Lars van der Haar (Trek-Baloise Lions), at :11
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :31
- Toon Aerts (Trek-Baloise Lions), at :42
- Quinten Hermans (Tormans Circus), at :53