While U.S. cyclocrossers were at home planning out their 2022 cyclocross seasons to peak for the recently-announced Hartford Cyclocross Nationals or trying to avoid territorial bulls in gravel races, many of the top cyclocross racers were still battling for prestigious wins and series titles over in Europe with the Superprestige Gavere.
Superprestige 2021/22 Series Final Results; Brand, Iserbyt Lock Up Overall Titles in Gavere
The Telenet Superprestige round in Gavere, Belgium this weekend marked the final round of the 2021/22 Superprestige calendar. The last time we visited Gavere was way back in December 2020, when Tom Pidcock de-throned Mathieu van der Poel in the Elite Men while delivering a master class on pit entry and exit tactics in the mud. On the Elite Women’s side in 2020, it was Lucinda Brand with the win.
We also took readers through the historic race and venue, with a Superprestige Gavere photo essay in 2018.
This time around, Gavere fell into the post-world-championship calendar in February, bringing riders looking to make their mark in one of the last races of the 2021/22 season. Let’s take a look at today’s results and the final overall Superprestige standings for the year.
2022 Superprestige Gavere Elite Women
Entering the final round of the 2021/22 Superprestige series, Lucinda Brand (86 points) held a slim lead over Denise Betsema (79 points) and Annemarie Worst (78 points) for the overall title. Recall that the Superprestige is based on points, not time, so finishing in second, two seconds behind the leader yields the exact same points as finishing in second, two minutes behind the leader. This meant that Brand would have to fall deep down in the field and Betsema or Worst would have to have a big result for Brand to lose the overall title on the final day.
This race brought clear skies and cool weather with wind, with some riders opting for long sleeve skinsuits, but everyone in shorts. The fans, however, were bundled up in jackets, hats, and the occasional mask. It wasn’t Vos or Alvarado with the holeshot this time – instead, we saw newly-crowned Junior World Champion Zoe Backstedt and the French Clauzel sisters at the front as the race hit the first corner.
Behind them, an unfortunate Anna Kay was caught up in a crash when the race had barely left the starting grid. Kay is having a tough season and found herself on the ground yet again. She’s already been hit by a car and suffered a concussion in an unrelated crash (causing her to miss Worlds) this year.
Halfway through the first lap, the contenders had formed up with the front with the top three in the overall standings – Brand, Betsema, and Worst opening a small lead over the field. Brand then opened a five-second gap on the big climb and carried it to the start/finish line as a trio of Backstedt, Betsema, and Worst chased.
This race featured an unusual coverage strategy – live, streaming footage from a drone flying immediately behind Lucinda Brand! TV rarely shows how truly steep or rutted the terrain can be, but the new drone capabilities really gave a better idea of what the course looks like from the rider’s point of view. I hope to see much more of this in the future, it looked great on the live stream. Brand herself got into the commentary regarding the use of a drone on Twitter:
Amazing footage😍 Unfortunately, this was the only flight, UCI banned it during our race. But a big shoutout to the people who introduced this to our sport! I think a drone like this is an amazing feature to make the broadcasts even more interesting! (1/2) https://t.co/ZZQUo0D91i
— Lucinda Brand (@lucinda_brand) February 12, 2022
As the race continued, Backstedt fell away from the Worst / Betsema group – although still staying in sight, while Brand continued to extend her lead until the chasers were no longer in the same camera shot.
Brand turned out to not be challenged, crossing the line first with no one near. The real battle was the Worst / Betsema pair, who stuck to one another like glue. Both were forced to keep riding by the presence of Backstedt; Worst opened a small gap with better bike handling on the downhill and solidified her second place on the day, distancing Betsema on the final lap.
Backstedt held on for fourth, 1:30 back from Brand – a result she has to be excited about, given the list of older, more experienced pros who finished minutes back.
This win gave Brand the overall Superprestige title, adding to the 2021/22 season World Cup title she had already claimed this year. For Worst, she must be thinking what could have been; having missed the 2022 World Championship due to a positive COVID test, she appears to have peaked at exactly the right time.
See the full results below.
2021-2022 Series Superprestige Final Results: Elite Women
|4||VAN DER HEIJDEN Inge||62|
|5||VAN ALPHEN Aniek||53|
|8||NORBERT RIBEROLLE Marion||39|
|10||ALVARADO Ceylin Del Carmen||31|
|11||VAN EMPEL Fem||31|
|14||VAN ANROOIJ Shirin||19|
|15||VAN LOY Ellen||14|
|20||VAS Blanka Kata||10|
|25||ARZUFFI Alice Maria||6|
2022 Superprestige Gavere Elite Men
There would be no repeat of the 2020 Pidcock / Van der Poel battle at Gavere; Pidcock is yet to race a cross following his Fayetteville world title, while Van der Poel cautiously resumes riding as he tries to overcome a back injury. No matter because those chasing the overall Superprestige title delivered a great race. Coming into the final round, Eli Iserbyt (83 points) held a slim lead over Toon Aerts (79 points) and Quinten Hermans (70 points.)
With Hermans MIA, Aerts was the only rider with a realistic chance of catching Iserbyt for the overall title. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any more of that drone during the Elite Men’s race, but we did get a nice battle on a beautiful, clear afternoon with the sun low in the February sky.
Iserbyt didn’t need to win the day to lock up the overall Superprestige title, only to mark Aerts, and he did, riding a strong first lap at the front that gapped a group containing van der Haar at 11 seconds back at the start/finish line. The group of Iserbyt, Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout, and Toon Vandebosch couldn’t make it stick, however, as a slower but steadier duo of van der Haar and Jens Adams plus Laurens Sweeck made it back to the leading group.
Van der Haar got to the front at 15 minutes in and immediately started turning the screws, which shortly led to Iserbyt crashing heavily.
Iserbyt was quickly back on the bike and his Pauwels Sauzen–Bingoal team worked on bringing him back. When they reached the front, Van der Haar and Iserbyt began to distance the field, while Vanthourenhout gave no help to Aerts, knowing his teammate, Iserbyt, was up the road.
Meanwhile, at the front, Van der Haar continued to attack Iserbyt again and again. Iserbyt, perhaps giving up on the day and shifting his focus on the overall standings, backed off from the limit and was rejoined by Vanthourenhout and Aerts. Van der Haar was gone at this point, leaving the remaining three to sort things out. He’d eventually win by more than a minute, adding to his lead over the remaining laps. Iserbyt and Aerts went back and forth, back and forth, but ultimately Iserbyt held on to second on the day, with Aerts following him in third.
Before this one had even started, Van der Haar had already announced this race weekend would be his last of the year, as he’s planning to undergo knee surgery to address a nagging injury that has limited the length of his rides. That’s a shame because he’s looked great of late, winning the European continental championship, then taking the silver medal at Fayetteville Worlds, and continued his great form with a commanding win here at Gavere 2022.
With his second place, Iserbyt did enough to hold off Aerts for his first career Superprestige overall title.
See the full results below.
2021-2022 Series Superprestige Final Results: Elite Men
|3||VAN DER HAAR Lars||80|
|7||VAN KESSEL Corné||32|
|10||VAN AERT Wout||30|
|21||ORTS LLORET Felipe||11|
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