Updated: 5:05 pm (PST), January 22, 2012.
HOOGERHEIDE, Netherlands (VN) – For the second time in as many weeks Dutch riders nearly swept the UCI World Cup, claiming both race victories and overall titles in the Junior, Under-23, and Women’s categories.
On a blustery — but not particularly cold day — in this town just a few kilometers north of the Belgian border, Junior Mathieu Van Der Poel, U23 Lars Van Der Haar, and women’s World Champion Marianne Vos powered their way around a heavy course to three wins. For Van Der Poel and Van Der Haar, the wins meant securing the overall World Cup title on home soil — or, given the course conditions today, mud. Dutchwoman Daphny Van Den Brand (AA Drink), claimed second behind Vos, far ahead of the fifteenth place finish she needed to lock up the women’s title.
Only among the men was the pattern broken, as Belgian Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) held off both teammate Klaas Vantornout and World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega-Pharma-Lotto) to secure the first World Cup title of his career.
Vos Looks Invincible Again
On a course that started with a long straightway on the road and then a quick left hand turn into a steep, nervy plunge down a heavily rutted embankment, gusty crosswinds caused havoc throughout the day. Trouble started only seconds into the women’s race, as Sophie De Boer (Telenet-Fidea) and Caroline Mani crashed hard on the road, setting off a chain-reaction accident that tied up a number of riders including American Dombroski (Crank Bros.).
But the race soon settled down and a group led by British riders Nikki Harris and Helen Wyman set the pace through the middle of the first lap. But the group stayed together only long enough for Marianne Vos (Rabobank) to decide it would be safer to strike out alone than risk a fall because of a mistake by another rider on the crowded course. By the end of the first lap the rest were racing for second; the unstoppable Vos was already on her way to a nearly 90-second solo victory.
Instead, a race broke out for second place, as Van Den Brand, Katerina Nash (Luna), Lucie Chainel-Lefevre, and American National Champion Katie Compton all took a turn at the front. But Chainel-Lefevre came off the pace and Compton started making mistakes, yo-yoing off the back of the two remaining leaders for several laps before finally conceding the race for the podium in the final lap.