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Let The Worst Puns Begin!
In Tabor and Hamme, Annemarie Worst defined herself as the rider to beat in the elite women’s field. Both Yara Kastelijn and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado have won big races this year, but Worst was impressive in winning both the Tabor World Cup and the second round of the DVV Trofee series, Flandriencross. (And headline writers rejoiced! Worst Was First.)
In Tabor, Worst and Alvarado were locked together on the last lap, when Alvarado failed to hit her pedal coming off a barrier. Worst capitalized on the mistake and piled on the pressure, forcing a subsequent series of fumbles from Alvarado.
Worst is not only showing impressive fitness and handling skills, but is setting herself apart with tactical astuteness and a searing acceleration on the final lap.
On Sunday, she again rode a cool and flawless race. Worst showed confidence at the front of a group of four riders—containing the reigning World Champion Sanne Cant—before riding away on the last lap.
Worst’s 777 teammate Yara Kastelijn still leads the DVV series by four seconds. The next race in the DVV series, the Caps Urban Cross, occurs in Kortrijk on Nov. 30.
There is currently only one Belgian rider in the top 15 of the Elite Women’s World Cup standings. However, there are three North American riders (Rochette in 2nd, Keough in 3rd, and Compton in 9th), and six riders from the Netherlands.
This highlights two important points: Number one, let’s hope neither Worst or Kastelijn, who currently sit sixth and 15th in the World Cup respectively, do not make up the points deficit they incurred by skipping the Iowa City and Waterloo rounds of the UCI World Cup and come back to win the series. If the best women’s team in the world opts not to compete in the US, then they should not win the World Cup. Second, the parity in the Elite Women’s UCI World Cup standings shows the internationalization of the discipline, beyond its homeland of Belgium, is slowly taking root.
A look at the standings for the Under-23 men in the UCI World Cup shows only three Belgian men in the top ten, and not a single Belgian rider in the top five overall. Compare this to the Elite Men’s standings, where eight of the top ten riders in the World Cup overall are Belgian (and the other two are from the Netherlands). On the men’s side, young riders from outside of Belgium frequently switch to the road once they hit the elite level (see: Logan Owen).
However, in the Elite Women’s field, we are seeing increased professionalization (okay yes, primarily in Belgium) and thus more international representation.
Mathieu van der Poel showed his class at the Tabor World Cup. In an emotional week following the passing of his grandfather, Raymound Poulider, Van der Poel started on the third row due to his lack of World Cup points. He worked his way to the back of the leaders in the first two laps, but then was gapped and seemed to be losing ground.
He remained calm under pressure and made his way back—only to have Machael Vanthourenhout, teammates with World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt on Pauwels Sauzen, try to gap him in the corners and give Iserbyt a gap. Van der Poel found the one spot on the track where he was making time on Eli and waited for the final round, where he executed his attack perfectly.
At Flandriencross, Van der Poel rode a classically dominant race in route to victory. After starting the DVV series with a five minute and 15 second deficit to Eli Iserbyt, Van der Poel is now only 3:55 out of the lead. Iserbyt still tops the classification with Vanthourenhout in second at 1:54, and Lars van der Haar in third at 2:28 back.
No facial hairs shall be shorn from FloBikes faces until the Dutchman loses a bike race (or the World Championships). Tag your own facial hair pics with #vanderbeard on social media to join in on the Mathieu van der Poel facial hair challenge.