Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) took a fantastic victory in round four of the Cyclocross World Cup.
Zonhoven welcomed the World Cup back to Europe in style, the sun shining on the world-famous sand dunes that make the course what it is.
The men’s ten-lap odyssey had the feel of an elimination race, the pace ferocious from the start. The field stayed more or less together in the first double descent and climb of “The Ditch”, the only action happening off the back.
The first real move didn’t come until the second passage of the Heathland descent and climb – hairpin turn included – when the powerful figure of Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) churned away from the elite selection up the sandy ramp. The Belgian spent a couple of laps off the front until he was tagged on lap four by a strong six-man chase, Toon Aerts just catching back on after an earlier crash.
World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) then went solo, but the efforts of Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) and Quinten Hermans (Tormans Circus) dragged the chasers back into play and brought the lead group up to six.
The last two laps were littered with aggression, even as the fatigue began to show. The group stayed together through “The Ditch”, but then Aerts launched his attack, and by end of the penultimate lap, he had a 22-second advantage.
Despite the furious chase behind, Aerts stayed away to take a defiant win on home soil. Ten seconds later, Van der Haar beat Iserbyt to second place, giving the Baloise Trek Lions two riders on the podium.