What do you get when you put mud over ice? Well its certainly not traction! As this video of crashes from the Italian round of the UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross in Fiuggi demonstrates.
With cold conditions and close proximity to the World Championships later this month, there were a couple of significant names missing from the start sheet. Both Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant decided to head off to warmer locations to prepare their challenge for the rainbow bands.
As it happens, both van der Poel and Cant dodged a bullet, with crashes marring both the Womens and Mens races. The problems occurred in a incredibly technical section, which was both narrow and covered in roots. The sub zero temperatures then turned the ground into sheet ice and the results have put several rider’s rainbow aspirations in jeopardy.
The wooded section saw many riders simply unable to stand, with many sliding into the netting. Fans watching at the bottom of one particular off-camber section got more than they bargained for, with many riders needing a hand to remain upright. The majority of the corners saw riders walking, with scenes resembling a Friday night outside the pub.
Two nasty crashes involved Alice Maria Arzuffi and Toon Aerts, both ending up in the same tree. Thankfully, these were the only bad crashes. The majority being a little comical and simply begging for some Benny Hill music.
The women’s race started with Marrianne Vos taking a new bike after only 500 meters due to a poor start. This allowed her to move up the field as the other riders battled congestion. Vos then worked her way to the front and gapped Eva Lechner when the Italian took a bike change. Vos powered on to take another World Cup win, comfortably beating Katerina Nash and Sophie de Boer.
The men’s race saw European Champion Toon Aerts take an early lead, but a collection of small errors saw a slightly cautious Wout van Aert catch, and then pass the Belgian. Aerts pushed too hard trying to stay with the World Champion and crashed on a slippery descent. Aerts hit a tree, ending his race and possibly his chance to win the Worlds in 2 weeks. Van Aert held off a late surge from the relatively unknown Marcel Meisen, the German riding superbly to take second. Tom Meeusen rounded out the podium to continue his consistent streak of top 5 placings.
With both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles now wrapped up, all eyes will turn to Luxembourg for the World Championships. That could give other riders the chance to grab a good result at the final World Cup in Hoogerheide on Sunday.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.