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VALKENBURG AAN DE GEUL, The Netherlands—In a cyclocross season that’s shaping up to be one for the ages due to the intrigue and drama of each race, the 2016 Valkenburg Work Cup and the Cauberg hill stayed true to the script.

Valkenburg marked the first World Cup of the season on European soil, and the first World Cup meeting between Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and Wout van Aert (Crelan Vaastgoedservice), as van der Poel skipped both CrossVegas and Jingle Cross as he recovered from knee surgery.

On a course that was remarkably different than the ankle-swallowing mudfest seen earlier in the week at the Kermiscross in Belgium, the World Cup at the Cauberg proved to be just moist with little mud. Yet it was the slightly muddy, rutted off-cambers that proved to be determining factors in the race.

Valkenburg Men: A van Aert and van der Poel Duel with Passengers

In the men’s race, the much-anticipated two-man duel between van Aert and van der Poel took half a race to develop. While neither racer strayed far from the front of the race, Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions), Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and teammate Kevin Pauwels looked determined to make it a five-man race for the win.

There were several tough, steep run-ups on the day. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

There were several tough, steep run-ups on the day. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

With just three laps to go, it still looked like a four-way battle for the win, with Pauwels trailing a bit behind the four leaders. Van Aert was content to push the pace, sprinting out of the corners and displaying impressive running prowess on the long, stair-laden run-up. Van der Poel was content to follow, while Vanthourenhout and Meeusen did their best to remain in contact.

Wout van Aert navigates one of the slippery, rutted off-camber descents, before one would take him down with less than two laps to go, 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Wout van Aert navigates one of the slippery, rutted off-camber descents, before one would take him down with less than two laps to go, 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

On the third to final lap, van der Poel hit the front, launching a vicious attack while pushing a huge gear up the climbs. Van Aert led the chase of his rival, and with two laps to go, the group was just four seconds behind, with 15 minutes of racing remaining.

Van der Poel on the attack. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Van der Poel on the attack. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Fans had plenty of hope to witness yet another last-lap beautiful duel that the first two stops of the Superprestige series delivered, but the Cauberg hill had other plans. With a lap and a half remaining, on a slippery, muddy off-camber, van Aert hit the deck, taking down Meeusen with him. Suddenly, Vanthourenhout was by himself in second, and once again, van Aert was left with a derailed chain.

The moment of misfortune for van Aert that held up Meeusen.

The moment of misfortune for van Aert that held up Meeusen.

With one lap to go, van der Poel had 18 seconds on Vanthourenhout and 28 seconds on the recovering van Aert and Meeusen duo, and it looked to only be a matter of who would finish in third.

However, van Aert, with one giant flight of stairs, shed Meeusen for good and closed the gap on Vanthourenhout. As the two remounted their bikes together, Vanthourenhout was already looking behind to see if his third place was secure.

Van der Poel is undefeated at World Cup and Superprestige races this season. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Van der Poel is undefeated at World Cup and Superprestige races this season. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

For the third straight time, on the sport’s biggest stage, van der Poel got the better of van Aert and showed no signs of the knee injury he suffered this spring while riding his BMX bike.

American Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz) continued his European campaign, finishing 46th.

van Aert, van der Poel and Vanthourenhout. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

van Aert, van der Poel and Vanthourenhout. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Valkenburg Women: De Jong Delights

2016 Cyclocross World Champ Thalita de Jong (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team), primarily a road racer, has found her second sport of cyclocross just might suit her well enough to become her first.

On a technical, challenging Cauberg course, the Dutch racer hit the front group, applying pressure and quickly reducing the race to six leaders on the first lap, with Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF), Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank), De Jong’s teammate Lucinda Brand, American Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport / Yogaglo)  and Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) all doing their best to hold De Jong’s wheel on the pavement and wide-open stretches, while de Boer and Cant pushed forward on the technical sections.

Sophe de Boer leads the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Sophe de Boer leads the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement) and the fresh-from-the-U.S. Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) led the chase, with Pavla Havlikova (Kooperativa Ladies) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-CycrocrossWorld) following.

De Boer proved to be best suited to challenge de Jong on the day, using her superior skills on the course’s off-cambers and technical sections to remain in contact or seize the lead. In similar fashion to van Aert’s crash later in the the day, Van Loy slid out on an off-camber, and just like that, one-by-one, racers fell off the pace of De Jong.

World Champ Thalita de Jong and Sophie de Boer used their strengths to take turns at the front of the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

World Champ Thalita de Jong and Sophie de Boer used their strengths to take turns at the front of the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

De Boer was the last to drop, but the final result seemed never to be in question, despite a stumble by de Jong entering a run-up.

The World Champion showed everyone that her win in Zolder was no fluke. De Jong could be yet another Rabo Liv racer to dominant cyclocross if she so chooses, and admitted that despite having some room for improvement, is enjoying her new off-road career.

De Jong wins the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

De Jong wins the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Miller’s fifth place was an impressive result, and the Iowa rider has been on a recent tear, finishing first and second in the two days of UCI C2 racing at the U.S. Open of Cyclocross in Boulder last weekend.

Amanda Miller finished fifth at the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Amanda Miller finished fifth at the 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Six American women contested the Valkenburg World Cup. Antonneau finished 8th, Elle Anderson (SRAM / Velocio) in 13th, Rebecca Fahringer (Amy D Foundation) 15th, Ellen Noble (Aspire) in 37th, Christine Vardaros (Stevens) in 51st.

World Cup leader Katie Compton did not attend the race. De Boer took back the series leader’s jersey, while Noble retained her U23 leader’s jersey.

Podium Women: Thalita de Jong: Sophie de Boer: Sanne Cant - 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Podium Women: Thalita de Jong: Sophie de Boer: Sanne Cant – 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Ellen Noble retains her U23 leader's jersey. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Ellen Noble retains her U23 leader’s jersey. 2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Elite Women. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Valkenburg U23, Juniors: Bertolini, Bekaert Sprint to Victory, Four Americans Contest

In the Junior Men’s race, Belgian Yentl Bekaert outsprinted French Antoine Benoist for the win. Three Americans competed, led by Lane Maher, who scored yet another top ten in his European campaign. Caleb Swartz finished 37th, with Ben Gomez Villafañe in 39th, just under three minutes back.

In the men’s U23 race, another tight finish kept fans in suspense. Italy’s Gioele Bertolini upset the Belgian and Dutch contingent, outsprinting Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Netherlands for the win. American Brannan Fix was scored at 45th.

Stay tuned for full photo galleries.

2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Results - Elite Women

RankNameNat.Age*ResultPts
1Thalita DE JONGNED2441:59:00200
2Sophie DE BOERNED2742:25:00160
3Sanne CANTBEL2742:34:00140
4Lucinda BRANDNED2842:45:00120
5Amanda MILLERUSA3142:59:00110
6Ellen VAN LOYBEL3743:09:00100
7Caroline MANIFRA3043:15:0090
8Kaitlin ANTONNEAUUSA2543:19:0080
9Alice Maria ARZUFFIITA2343:21:0070
10Helen WYMANGBR3643:30:0060
11Maud KAPTHEIJNSNED2343:42:0058
12Annemarie WORSTNED2243:55:0056
13Elle ANDERSONUSA2944:00:0054
14Pavla HAVLIKOVACZE3444:20:0052
15Rebecca FAHRINGERUSA2844:30:0050
16Marlene PETITFRA2644:35:0048
17Jana CZECZINKAROVACZE2044:35:0046
18Nicole KOLLERSUI2044:37:0044
19Laura VERDONSCHOTBEL2144:41:0042
20Alicia FRANCKBEL2345:08:0040
21Christine MAJERUSLUX3045:11:0039
22Ceylin DEL CARMEN ALVARADONED1945:31:0038
23Jolien VERSCHUERENBEL2745:32:0037
24Hélène CLAUZELFRA1945:35:0036
25Évita MUZICFRA1845:52:0035
26Maëlle GROSSETETEFRA1945:54:0034
27Aida NUNO PALACIOESP3445:57:0033
28Inge VAN DER HEIJDENNED1846:00:0032
29Sara CASASOLAITA1846:04:0031
30Perrine CLAUZELFRA2346:07:0030
31Ffion JAMESGBR2046:09:0029
32Anaïs MORICHONFRA184:1628
33Lucia GONZALEZ BLANCOESP2746:19:0027
34Nadja HEIGLAUT2146:22:0026
35Bianca VAN DEN HOEKNED4146:24:0025
36Karen VERHESTRAETENBEL2646:36:0024
37Ellen NOBLEUSA2247:00:0023
38Martina MIKULASKOVACZE2447:01:0022
39Alicia GONZALEZ BLANCOESP2247:09:0021
40Francesca BARONIITA1847:16:0020
41Joyce VANDERBEKENBEL3347:27:0019
42Amira MELLORGBR2047:30:0018
43Lara KRÄHEMANNSUI1847:40:0017
44Asa Maria ERLANDSSONSWE4347:40:0016
45Cyriane MULLERFRA2947:42:0015
46Tereza MEDVEDOVASVK2147:52:0014
47Elena VALENTINIITA2547:57:0013
48Tina ZÜGERSUI176:1712
49Fabienne SCHAUSLUX3348:26:0011
50Nikola BAJGEROVACZE2049:32:0010
51Christine VARDAROSUSA485
52Mara SCHWAGERGER355
53Zaloa TREVILLAESP255

2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Results - Elite Men

RankNameNat.Age*ResultPts
1Mathieu VAN DER POELNED221:05:13200
2Wout VAN AERTBEL231:05:27160
3Michael VANTHOURENHOUTBEL241:05:34140
4Tom MEEUSENBEL291:05:47120
5Kevin PAUWELSBEL331:06:02110
6Toon AERTSBEL241:06:09100
7Lars VAN DER HAARNED261:06:2090
8Corne VAN KESSELNED261:06:3580
9Laurens SWEECKBEL241:06:4170
10Tim MERLIERBEL251:06:4660
11Jens ADAMSBEL251:07:0158
12Clément VENTURINIFRA241:07:0956
13Marcel MEISENGER281:07:2054
14Stan GODRIENED241:07:2852
15Philipp WALSLEBENGER301:07:4150
16Simon ZAHNERSUI341:07:4348
17Michael BOROSCZE251:07:4946
18Gianni VERMEERSCHBEL251:07:4944
19Daan SOETEBEL231:07:5242
20Steve CHAINELFRA341:07:5740
21Twan VAN DEN BRANDNED281:07:5839
22Severin SAEGESSERSUI251:07:5938
23Jan NESVADBACZE261:08:0437
24Daan HOEYBERGHSBEL231:08:1036
25Martin HARINGSVK311:08:1035
26David VAN DER POELNED251:08:1634
27Thijs VAN AMERONGENNED311:08:2433
28Dieter VANTHOURENHOUTBEL321:08:3332
29Marcel WILDHABERSUI321:08:3831
30Patrick VAN LEEUWENNED321:08:5130
31Matthieu BOULOFRA281:08:5629
32Francis MOUREYFRA371:09:0928
33Jim AERNOUTSBEL281:09:2727
34Kevin SUAREZ FERNANDEZESP231:09:4326
35Tomas PAPRSTKACZE251:10:0025
36Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZESP381:10:0524
37Diether SWEECKBEL241:10:1523
38Lukas WINTERBERGSUI291:10:2422
39Alois FALENTAFRA281:10:3721
40Vincent BAESTAENSBEL281:10:5120
41Andreas MOSERSUI331:10:5419
42Nicolas SAMPARISIITA251:11:3418
43Michal MALÍKCZE281:12:0417
44Anthonin DIDIERFRA241:12:1016
45Matej LASAKCZE2515
46Tobin ORTENBLADUSA2314
47Sascha WEBERGER2913
48Lorenzo SAMPARISIITA2412
49Julien TARAMARCAZSUI3011
50Yu TAKENOUCHIJPN2910
51Mariusz GILPOL345
52Christian HELMIGLUX365
53Yoann CORBIHANFRA295
54Marvin SCHMIDTGER255
55Inigo GOMEZ ELORRIAGAESP265
56Lex REICHLINGLUX255

2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Results - U23 Men

RankNameNat.Result
1Gioele BertoliniITA0:52:40
2Joris NieuwenhuisNED0:00:01
3Quinten HermansBEL0:00:27
4Adam ToupalikCZE0:00:33
5Sieben WoutersNED0:00:36
6Eli IserbytBEL0:00:45
7Thomas BonnetFRA0:00:50
8Lucas DubauFRA0:01:07
9Joshua DubauFRA0:00:00
10Felipe OrtsSPA0:01:15
11Yannick PeetersBEL0:01:24
12Jens DekkerNED0:01:33
13Thijs AertsBEL0:01:34
14Clement RussoFRA0:01:35
15Jelle SchuermansBEL0:01:43
16Stefano SalaITA0:01:48
17Jakob DorigoniITA0:01:58
18Maik Van Der HeijdenNED0:02:03
19Kobe GoossensBEL0:02:18
20Kelvin BakxNED0:02:20
21Gosse Van Der MeerNED0:02:24
22Eddy FineFRA0:02:41
23Timon RueggSWI0:03:06
24Nadir ColledaniITA0:03:17
25Manuel MullerGER0:03:42
26Wesley FlorenNED0:03:45
27Richard JansenNED0:03:52
28Lukas MeilerGER0:03:54
29Kevin KuhnSWI0:03:59
30Roel Van Der StegenNED0:04:06
31Stepan SchubertCZE0:04:13
32Raphael KraehemannSWI0:04:20
33Perry Van Den BosNED0:04:37
34Koen Van DijkeNED0:04:47
35Paul LindenauGER0:04:50
36Jonas BrezinaCZE0:04:53
37Antonio FolcarelliITA0:05:27
38Adrian GarciaSPA0:05:35
39Daniel MayerCZE0:05:42
40Lois DufauxSWI0:05:46
41Maximilian MobisGER0:06:13
42Bjorn Van Der HeijdenNED0:07:00
43Frederik HahnelGER0:07:06
44Paul RudolphGER0:07:49
45Brannan FixUSA0:00:00

2016 Valkenburg Cyclocross World Cup Results - Junior Men

RankNameNat.Result
1Yentl BekaertBEL0:39:36
2Antoine BenoistFRA0:00:01
3Andreas GoemanBEL0:00:24
4Jofre Cullell EstapeSPA0:00:27
5Toon VandeboschBEL0:00:30
6Antoine RaugelFRA0:00:32
7Lane MaherUSA0:00:33
8Jan GavendaCZE0:00:34
9Erwann KerraudFRA0:00:39
10Ben TurnerGBR0:00:41
11Maxime BonsergentFRA0:00:45
12Hynek PalickaCZE0:00:49
13Timo KielichBEL0:00:58
14Thomas MeinGBR0:00:59
15Thibault ValognesFRA0:01:03
16Kyle AgterbergNED0:01:07
17Bart ArtzNED0:01:18
18Hendrik MeesNED0:01:22
19Tomas KopeckyCZE0:01:25
20Patrick FavaroITA0:01:26
21Louis RouillerSWI0:01:29
22Luca SchaettiSWI0:01:36
23Perry FrijtersNED0:01:39
24Bart HazekampNED0:01:44
25Harry YatesGBR0:00:00
26Jelle CampsBEL0:01:58
27Filippo FontanaITA0:02:07
28Thymen ArensmanNED0:02:14
29Simon VanicekCZE0:02:18
30Edoardo XilloITA0:00:00
31Lorenzo CalloniITA0:02:25
32Giulio GalliITA0:02:27
33Koen Van HelvoirtNED0:02:29
34Carlo Van Den BergNED0:02:32
35Ivan Feijoo AlberteSPA0:00:00
36Pieter-Jan VliegenBEL0:02:33
37Caleb SwartzUSA0:02:40
38Kyro GeurtsNED0:02:47
39Benjamin GomezvillafaneUSA0:02:50
40Felix SchreiberLUX0:02:51
41Nicolas KessLUX0:02:53
42Anders LilliendalDEN0:02:55
43Cedric PriesLUX0:03:06
44Xabier MuriasSPA0:03:18
45Jan SommerSWI0:03:27
46Alberto BrancatiITA0:00:00
47Jurgen Van Den AarssenNED0:03:35
48Wojciech CeniuchPOL0:03:39
49Toby BarnesGBR0:03:48
50David Westhoff-WittwerGER0:03:49
51Luca VreeswijkNED0:00:00
52Sven NijzinghNED0:03:53
53Vladimir MiksanikCZE0:04:12
54Lukas BaldingerGER0:04:33
55Jakub VarhanovskySVK0:04:36
56Markus PajurEST0:05:21
57Lucas WulffDEN0:05:39
58Arthur KluckersLUX0:06:33
59Robin PruulEST0:00:00
60Jakub SchierlCZE0:00:00