Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) took a huge win in the CX World Cup’s 11th round with a steady ride on the notoriously technical Namur Citadel course.
After a blistering start, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) led for several laps, feeling the pressure of Quinten Hermans (Tormans), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Vanthourenhout. With the top riders all fairly evenly matched, luck played a major role on the tricky Belgian terrain.
A problem for Hermans saw the Tormans rider tumble off the virtual podium and require a change of shoe, and then everything changed at the front of the race as Aerts suffered a front wheel puncture on the cobbled climb, a long way from the pits. This allowed Saturday’s winner Pidcock to close the few-second gap and fly up the climb, with Vanthourenhout on his case.
The young Brit put the hammer down to stretch out his advantage, but disaster delivered another blow on the infamous offcamber section less than a lap later, opening the door to Vanthourenhout.
The 28-year-old carried a 12-second lead into the final lap, and under pressure from Pidcock, he put everything into the early climb to give himself a good buffer going into the technical sections. Both Vanthourenhout and Pidcock had to overcome mechanicals and/or crashes on the way to the finish, but the Belgian came out on top for an emotional first World Cup victory of the season.
Pidcock ended the weekend strong as runner-up 36 seconds down, and Aerts settled for third after an explosive start was ended by misfortune. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) was one of the first to congratulate his teammate after coming home fifth, which is the lowest finish he’s achieved so far in this season’s World Cup – needless to say that his almost 100-point overall lead is safe.