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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, December 18, 2022

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What a nice night for an evening. - Steven Wright

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Michael Vanthourenhout & Puck Pieterse win Val di Sole cross race

Here’s the UCI’s report on the men’s race:

Snow and ice created spectacle in Italy's Val di Sole. The exceptional surface gave European champion Vanthourenhout wings. He worked a handsome solo clear. Young Belgian Vandeputte and Swiss Kuhn were almost equally happy with their second and third places.

Winner Michael Vanthourenhout climbing in the snow to victory.

It was Swiss rider Kevin Kuhn who immediately felt comfortable in the snow of Val di Sole and took the lead. Belgian Niels Vandeputte followed with European champion Michael Vanthourenhout in his wake. Mathieu van der Poel did not get away as well at the start. He was assigned to chase. A task that was less easy on this slippery surface, as riders could not release 100% of their power.

Soon a front group of five riders formed including Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout, Kuhn, Vandeputte and Sweeck. Kuhn kept up the pressure but it was Vandeputte and Vanthourenhout who broke away moments later in the Italian snow. In the background, Van der Poel did not seem to take any more risks and let the race lead.

On the fourth lap, Vanthourenhout felt his moment had come and tried to ride away from Vandeputte. The young Belgian could not answer the European champion's acceleration and had to leave a gap. Meanwhile, in the background, a small battle had developed for place three with Iserbyt, Sweeck and the Swiss Kuhn and Rüegg.

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Chain problems forced Iserbyt to a halt moments later, allowing leader in the standings Sweeck and Kuhn to clear for third. On the fifth lap, Vandeputte suffered a puncture. This made it exciting again for second place as it allowed Sweeck and Kuhn to come back to within eight seconds of Vandeputte. Meanwhile, in the background, Iserbyt had an unfortunate fall. He was taken away on a stretcher moments later, as was his teammate Van Empel.

In the final lap, Swiss Kuhn distanced himself from the year-old Sweeck. But Sweeck fought back and it became very exciting for a moment for third place. But that didn't bother Vanthourenhout at all. He was able to celebrate extensively after a strong solo in the snow. Vandeputte finished a handsome second place and was extremely happy with it. He even celebrated with a wheelie. Kuhn was able to keep his third place and didn't know what to do with his luck either.

Men's race results:

  1. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 57min 39sec
  2. Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 39sec
  3. Kevin Kuhn (Tormans) @ 42sec
  4. Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) @ 44sec
  5. Timon Rüegg (Cross Team Legendre) @ 1min 20sec
  6. Vincenzt Bastaens @ 2min 37sec
  7. Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 2min 51sec
  8. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 3min 14sec
  9. Thijs Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) @ 3min 19sec
  10. Corné van Kessel (Tormans) s.t.

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And here’s the UCI’s report on the women’s race:

A white carpet of snow, we don't see that often during the cross season but we do in Italy's Val di Sole. There, the riders were able to show off their skills on the ice. Technically strong Pieterse did so with bravura and was able to triumph after a nice solo.

Puck Pieterse finishes alone.

Italian champion Silvia Persico immediately showed her beautiful Italian colours in the snow of Val di Sole and dived into the snowy field first. But one turn later she immediately made a slide together with Puck Pieterse and World Cup leader Fem van Empel was also hampered as a result.

Ceylin Alvarado made the fewest mistakes and was therefore able to take an immediate big lead over Marie Schreiber, the next rider. Van Empel had less luck due to the delay in the first corner and was left to chase because of that missed start.

Alvarado obviously did not wait and finished the first lap flawlessly with a nice lead over new chasers Pieterse and Persico. The duo were able to close the gap on Alvarado entering the second lap, giving us three leaders. Manon Bakker followed in fourth place at ten seconds. Young Pieterse, meanwhile, took over the lead from Alvarado and pulled sharply ahead for the first time.

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Meanwhile, news came from the background that Van Empel had fallen hard against a pole. The rider was left lying down and unable to continue her race. Moments later she was carried away on a stretcher towards the first aid. Alvarado also did not stay clear and went down in the snow, and a few seconds later Persico also made a slide on the same climb, allowing Pieterse to take the high road.

But even the technical rider that Pieterse is, could not stay clear and made a slide. Although that did not affect her lead as it was already 16 seconds at the start of the third lap. In the chase it was Alvarado and Persico playing leapfrog. But soon Alvarado proved to be the technically stronger of the two and after another crash by Persico, she could say goodbye to the Italian for good.

The field long meanwhile completely broke up and Persico started to pile up the mistakes. A strong Manon Bakker was riding around in fourth place which would be her best result of the season. But due to Persico's successive crashes, Bakker suddenly also gained sight of third place and it became an exciting duel for the final podium spot on the last lap.

Pieterse, meanwhile, rode flawlessly to victory and could crown herself ice queen of the day. Alvarado was able to capture her second place and after a crash in the last corner by Persico, the Italian still lost her spot for third place to an overjoyed baker in the last minute. Van Empel still remains leader of the standings despite her abandonment. The European Champion still has a nice lead in her pocket.

Women's race results:

  1. Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 50min 14sec
  2. Ceylin del Crmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) @ 44sec
  3. Manon Bakker (Crelan Fristads) @ 1min 26sec
  4. Silvio Persico (Italy) @ 1min 34sec
  5. Maghalie Rochette (Canada) s.t.
  6. Marie Schreiber (Tormans) @ 3min 33sec
  7. Hélene Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) @ 4min 7sec
  8. Sara Casasola (Selle Italia-Guerciotti-Elite) @ 4min 10sec
  9. Sidney McGill (Canada) @ 4min 16sec
  10. Kristyna Zemanova (Brilon Racing) @ 4min 17sec

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