In China’s first-ever UCI cyclocross race, the Qiansen Trophy UCI C2 Cyclocross Event, an international field of 63 men took the start in one of the world’s most expensive cyclocross races ever held. Racers and their helpers all traveled to the race, all expenses paid, and for many, the trip was as much about seeing China and helping in a small to expand the sport as it was about racing. However, come Saturday, race day was serious with higher-than-mandated C2 prize money, UCI points and a piece of history on the line.
Racers from 15 countries lined up, with the US being the top country represented, and some true European stars contesting the event, including Telenet-Fidea World Cup winner Thijs Al and his teammate and former Junior and U23 World Champion Arnaud Jouffroy. Redline’s Justin Lindine and RACC / TREKnder’s Brian Matter lined up second and third based on UCI points, and Lindine would live up to his billing, sitting in second for most of the race behind Al.
Italian Elia Silvestri took the holeshot and led for the first lap, but it was just a matter of time before Al took control on the second lap, and it would be for good. Jouffroy slipped a pedal at the start, fell back to 40th, and proceeded to surge through the field until he caught Lindine’s wheel, who was riding in second.
Jouffroy bid his time, content to follow Lindine with his Telenet-Fidea teammate up the road, but with one to go, moved to the front, put in an attack and shed Lindine.