by Dan Seaton, Photos by Joe Sales and Masae Otsuka. Also see our live updates archive here.
On a frozen and cloudless morning in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, the juniors kicked off the 2009 cyclocross world championships. Racing on a dry and frozen course, Dutch rider Tijmen Eising was able convert a first lap attack into an insurmountable lead. Riding a handful of seconds ahead of a chase group of about 12 riders, Eising rode a ferocious 27 km/hr first lap and quickly put away much hope for anyone else hoping to for a shot at victory. Meanwhile, a fractured and disorganized chase could do nothing to reel him in.
By the end of lap two, Eising led the chase group by more than 20 seconds before he let up slightly — but not enough to allow the chase group to close the gap at all. The weather, unusually cold but typically windy for winter in the Netherlands helped too, keeping the course very hard, very fast, but also quite bumpy, tiring many members of the chase group.
By the penultimate lap, while Eising rode comfortably and confidently, the chase began to fracture some, as several riders launched late attacks, less out of hope of brining back the leader than to look for a shot at the podium. However, the chase group stayed together until the last lap when an Italian rider crashed in the middle of the group, forcing several riders to let up to avoid going down as well. Nonetheless, the race for second was decided by a sprint on the long finishing straight through the center of Hoogerheide. Eising’s countryman Corne Van Kessel edged out France’s Alexandre Billon for silver.
“The ground was very hard, so it was a quick race,” said Eising. “This type of a race is not a favorite of mine, but I could do it on this stage as well.” Eising said he attacked just after the race left the pavement. “There was a German rider behind me, and that’s when I created my first gap. I was at a disadvantage on the pavement because I had to do it on my own, but I knew I could make a gap on the field.”
Zach McDonald crashes on descent after an Italian rider went down. by Mario Varreware.
US National Champion Zach McDonald, who said he felt good today, had a solid start, finding himself well in contention as the group turned off of the pavement and headed for the grass on the first lap. However an Italian rider went down on the first of several short descents on the course, taking McDonald down in the process. “I twisted my bars, so I had to pit, and lost probably 15 places when I pitted,” McDonald explained after the race. McDonald encountered another Italian rider just after the pit, hitting the fence and tangling with the rider, costing him further position. He launched an aggressive chase back, moving up from the back of the field into 19th position by the finish.
Meanwhile, teammate Luke Keough led the American attack, spending most of the race in the lead of a second chase group, about 30 seconds back from leader Eising, holding his position for a solid 13th place finish. Junior team director Geoff Proctor pointed out that the UCI rules regarding start order — which award front row position to the top eight from the ‘cross world cup and then follow national rankings — hurt the team’s overall chances at top finishes. But despite starting in the later rows, the Americans were happy with their efforts.
Chris Wallace, who finished 28th overall, said he felt good. He said the rough course was tough, but a good, very fast course. On the experience of racing at Worlds he said, “It’s crazy. I did the camp — that was a shock — so I’m kind of used to it, but this is crazy out here. It’s like the Super Bowl.” Wallace and teammate Gavin Mannion spent most of the race together, with Mannion finishing two places back in 30th, while Eric Emsky finished 38th. Full results below photo galleries.
Also see our live updates archive here.
by Joe Sales:
by Masae Otsuka:
|2||29||VAN KESSEL Corne||NED||+00:25|
|5||27||VAN DER HAAR Lars||NED||+00:25|
|9||20||DE BIE Sean||BEL||+00:26|
|10||28||VAN DER HEIJDEN Michiel||NED||+00:26|
|18||30||VAN DER POEL David||NED||+01:09|
|19||31||MC DONALD Zach||USA||+01:18|
|31||45||BARBA FRUTOS Ismael||ESP||+01:46|
|37||44||GOMEZ ELORRIAGA Inigo||ESP||+02:19|
|39||21||DE VOCHT Bart||BEL||+02:26|
|43||38||SCHWEIZER Michael (JR)||GER||+02:37|
|46||43||NADAL MAGRINYA Josep||ESP||+03:|
|49||52||GROSU Eduard – Michael||ROU||+06:|