“In the second half I planned an attack.” -Wout van Aert to Cyclocross Magazine

The 2015 CrossVegas winner and 2016 Cyclocross World Champion came into Las Vegas with a plan. But even the best laid plans can go awry, they say.

In a moment of inattention, it all almost went awry for Wout van Aert (Crelan Vastgoedservice). “I was on the wheel on the rider in front of me, and for one moment I was not concentrated like I should be,” he recalled. “I hit the stairway with the front of my feet. That’s what’s hurting right now. I hit it hard. I was suddenly with my wrist on the next stair and I got a huge clack in my back.”

The crowd saw the crash on the big screens throughout the venue and gasped. Fans counted the seconds by as van Aert stood doubled over in pain, while trying to untangle his bike from course tape. The lack of urgency was alarming, but in reality, van Aert was slowed by the pain of what he’d call a “stupid crash.”

As the seconds ticked by, the announcers declared van Aert out of contention, saying too much time was lost.

The leaders hop the stairs before the final turn. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

The leaders hop the stairs before the final turn. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

It was music to Michael Vanthourenhout’s ears. The animator of the 2015 CrossVegas race was ready to seize the opportunity to improve on his third place in 2015. With another early CrossVegas attack and 15-second gap, the Marlux – Napoleon Games rider was also was well along his own plan to reenact the 2015 race but with the hope that another year of experience and without Sven Nys ahead of him, he would end up with a different result.

Michael Vanthourenhout goes on a flyer for the second year in a row. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Michael Vanthourenhout goes on a flyer for the second year in a row. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The field strung out in hopes of reconnecting with the young Belgian, but the 16-strong chasing group wasn’t making headway and was disorganized and looking around. They were looking for someone with a plan.

“I try to stay in the wheels, but sometimes I just try at the front. I also want to make the race hard and try to win,” Laurens Sweeck (Era – Murprotec) told Cyclocross Magazine. He gave chase of Vanthourenhout, and it worked. It also drew out van Aert, and the race was on. The two brought back the early break away, and kept the World Cup victory within reach.

van Aert led home a Belgian sweep of the top seven spots. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

van Aert led home a Belgian sweep of the top seven spots. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

The problem was that it brought it back within reach of a third of the field, and with four laps to go, the field was back together again, with an impressive twenty riders within sight of the lead.

Yet the racers who saw the 2016 World Champion on Sunday in Waterloo were just waiting for the inevitable bomb to go off, whether or not they had a contingency plan.

An Explosion in the Sand

With three laps to go, van Aert, recovered from his lap four stumble, was back to the task at hand. Although the plan was delayed by his crash, he needed to attack, and moved into position.

Entering the uphill sandpit in the lead, van Aert surged through the sand. The pressure of the attack had an impact. In his wake lay a stunned Vanthourenhout, who would get sideways with his bike, and Sweeck, who would have to veer far from his fellow chaser.

The moment of the race: Wout van Aert attacks the sand, Vanthourenhout bobbles. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The moment of the race: Wout van Aert attacks the sand, Vanthourenhout bobbles. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The two tried to minimize the damage, but it was too late. After a half lap of chasing, the two started to look around. Once again, others reconnected but looked for a leader.

Sweeck looking for help in chasing van Aert. Two laps to go. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Sweeck looking for help in chasing van Aert. Two laps to go. 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Sweeck gestured for someone to pull through, but van Aert’s effort had broken their resolve. They knew it was coming, but still couldn’t do anything about it.

Van Aert was gone.

Wout van Aert had a plan, and despite a crash delay, finished it on time. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

Wout van Aert had a plan, and despite a crash delay, finished it on time. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

North Americans Turn Up the Volume

With 17 Americans and 7 Canadians lining up for the 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, hopes were high that several Americans could break into the top ten on home soil.

Early on, it looked like Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) would be one of those riders, as Hyde sat in the lead group as Jeremy Powers (Aspire) and other Americans gave chase. Powers would slowly recover, passing his Easthampton, Mass. training partner, but could only move up to 18th, top American.

Powers eventually caught and passed Hyde to finish top American. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

Powers eventually caught and passed Hyde to finish top American. Cross Vegas 2016 World Cup. © Cathy Fegan-Kim / Cyclocross Magazine

Michael van den Ham (Garneau / Easton) had an impressive ride to finish 17th, top Canadian and North American. Five Americans finished in the top 30. See the full results below.

The 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men's podium. L to R: Vanthourenhout, van Aert and Sweeck. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The 2016 CrossVegas World Cup, Elite Men’s podium. L to R: Vanthourenhout, van Aert and Sweeck. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Stay tuned for a full photo gallery, video interviews and bike profiles. See our ever-growing ClifBar CrossVegas coverage here.

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2016 CrossVegas Elite Men's Results

RankNameNat.Age*ResultPts
1Wout VAN AERTBEL221:06:53200
2Michael VANTHOURENHOUTBEL231:07:16160
3Laurens SWEECKBEL231:07:19140
4Toon AERTSBEL231:07:25120
5Rob PEETERSBEL311:07:32110
6Quinten HERMANSBEL211:07:38100
7Dieter VANTHOURENHOUTBEL311:07:4390
8Philipp WALSLEBENGER291:07:5280
9Tim MERLIERBEL241:07:5470
10Thijs VAN AMERONGENNED301:08:0060
11Tom MEEUSENBEL281:08:2058
12Kevin PAUWELSBEL321:08:4156
13Gianni VERMEERSCHBEL241:08:4454
14Julien TARAMARCAZSUI291:08:4952
15Matthieu BOULOFRA271:08:5350
16Jim AERNOUTSBEL271:09:1048
17Michael VAN DEN HAMCAN241:09:1346
18Jeremy POWERSUSA331:09:4444
19Steve CHAINELFRA331:09:5142
20Marcel WILDHABERSUI311:09:5140
21Daan SOETEBEL221:09:5139
22Geoff KABUSHCAN391:09:5538
23Jeremy MARTINCAN241:09:5737
24Ian FIELDGBR301:10:0136
24Simon ZAHNERSUI331:10:0136
26Travis LIVERMONUSA281:10:3534
27Tobin ORTENBLADUSA221:10:4433
28Jeremy DURRINUSA281:10:5132
29James DRISCOLLUSA301:10:5131
30Daan HOEYBERGHSBEL221:10:5930
31Stephen HYDEUSA291:11:4229
32Diether SWEECKBEL231:11:4528
33Daniel SUMMERHILLUSA271:11:4627
34Craig RICHEYCAN321:11:4726
35Hector RIVEROSCOL291:11:5525
36Troy WELLSUSA321:12:1124
37Jonathan PAGEUSA401:12:1123
38Anthony CLARKUSA291:12:2422
39Justin LINDINEUSA321:12:4121
40Mark MCCONNELLCAN281:13:0020
41Allen KRUGHOFFUSA3219
42Kerry WERNERUSA2518
43Dan TIMMERMANUSA3617
44Benjamin SONNTAGGER3616
45Jens VANDEKINDERENBEL2315
46Derek ZANDSTRACAN3214
47Aaron SCHOOLERCAN3113
48David VAN DER POELNED2412
49Curtis WHITEUSA2111
50Yoann CORBIHANFRA2810
51Scott SMITHUSA225
52Vincent BAESTAENSBEL275
53Christian HELMIGLUX355
54Louis WOLFGER235
55Jose Alfredo PACHECO ROSESMEX315
56Christhian RAVELO-AVILACOL245
57Volodymyr STARYCHENKOUKR335
58Jarno TREYEST345