The sun shined bright over northern Germany as riders lined up for the fifth round of the UCI World Cup. Yet the course remained saturated from a week of rain leading into the race.
The ensuing mud allowed the Belgian world champions to show their strength, while the conditions caused problems for many other riders.
Cant’s Gamble Results In Win
A crash in the first corner of the women’s race caused riders including Kaitie Keough, Katerina Nash, and Sophie De Boer to lose ground early on. As they fought back to the front over the next few laps, the battle for the podium took shape.
Sanne Cant traded blows with Helen Wyman and Katie Compton for most of the race. Cant proved the dominant rider of the day, routinely beating Wyman out of the pits and through technical mud sections, and forcing Wyman to use precious energy to keep up.
While Wyman and Compton pitted on the final lap, Cant took a risk and opted to skip the pits. The decision allowed Cant to gain a small gap and power to victory ahead of Wyman. Compton, still recovering from an illness earlier in the week, settled for third.
Van Der Poel Again Felled By A Mechanical
Like the women’s race, the men suffered a similar first corner crash. Continuing his streak of tough luck, American champion Stephen Hyde became tangled in the mass of bikes of mud. Following second crash a lap or so later, Hyde withdrew from the race.
Lars van der Haar pushed the pace early on, closely followed by Mathieu van der Poel and a particularly determined Wout van Aert.
Van der Poel chose to skip the pits on the first lap, and just when it looked like he would storm away in typical fashion, a jammed chain left him immobilized on the side of the course.
By the time Van der Poel remounted his bike, he was more than 30 seconds behind a charging Wout van Aert. Van der Poel recovered admirably well, quickly catching and passing the chase group of Toon Aerts, Corne Van Kessel, and Michael Vanthourenhout.
However, Van Aert had opened up an insurmountable lead and there was simply no reigning in the world champion. Van der Poel was left to settle for second place while Toon Aerts secured another World Cup third place finish.
Americans Take The Fight To Cant
On Sunday, in the women's elite race at Flandriencross in Hamme, American champion Katie Compton and compatriot Ellen Noble animated the race. The duo broke free of a deteriorating lead group around the halfway mark of the race. As the pair swapped the lead out front, Sanne Cant rode her own race roughly 15 seconds back.
With one lap to go, just when it looked like the Americans would pull a coup in Belgium, Cant showed her superiority in one of the mud sections of the final lap. Pushing a massive gear, Cant powered up to the leaders. Once she made contact, she recovered leading into the power-washer-induced mud section near the pits, then hit the gas again.
As she celebrated at the finish line, Cant had an "I can’t believe I just won" look on her face.
Finishing in second, Noble secured one of the biggest results of her career. A day earlier in Zeven, Noble proved she brought great form to Europe, riding in the top five on the first lap. But a dropped chain, followed by a crash, took her out of contention.
In Hamme, she went to the front of the race and forced the other women to chase her. As she pumped her fist crossing the line, it was clear Noble was proud of how she’d rebounded from the day prior.
Taking third place, Compton further solidified her DVV Trofee series lead over Helen Wyman.
Van Der Poel Still On Top
Perhaps extra-motivated by his mechanical in Zeven, in the Flandriencross men's race Mathieu Van Der Poel set out at a blistering pace. First lap heroics have become the Dutchman’s go-to move.
Wout Van Aert, feeling his efforts from the previous day, was unable to respond to the early pace and reluctantly resigned himself to sit in the chase group. By the end of the first lap, they were already 10 seconds back. Van der Poel meanwhile continued to ride fully on the limit, so much so that he overcooked a corner into a barrier sending him to the ground on the second lap.
This season, Van der Poel’s proven only crashes or mechanicals can slow him down. But in Hamme, the crash proved inconsequential as he had opened up enough of an advantage over his rivals that none could to terms.
Van Aert eventually distanced the other chasers to finish second, while Michael Vanthourenhout came across the line in third.
Van Aert overtook Toon Aerts in the standings for third place, while Lars Van Der Haar was notably absent from the lead group. However, his seventh-place finish was enough to preserve his second place overall in the Series.
Van der Poel now leads the DVV Trofee series by one minute and 44 seconds.
The DVV Trophy returns on December 9 in Essen, Belgium, live on FloBikes.