Saturday's World Cup belonged to Telenet Fidea's Toon Aerts. On Sunday, young teammate Nicolas Cleppe (Telenet Fidea Lions) was hoping to follow in his teammate's footsteps and pick up a U.S. win.
At the start of Sunday's race, Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) asserted himself against a field filled with Europeans and a full slate of domestic riders by taking the lead after the first descent of Mt. Krumpit and holding it through the first trip around the Sunday circuit.
The next rider to try to go free was Cleppe. In the third lap, he made his move on the overcast afternoon. Off the front with Michael Boros (Creafin Tuv Sud) and teammate Jim Aernouts (Telenet Fidea Lions), Cleppe stormed up the Mt. Krumpit run-up and came off the descent with a nearly 10-second advantage.
His swift attack portended the rest of the race. Cleppe extended his lead until it was well over a minute in the latter part of the race. He was not challenged en route to a win to close up his U.S. trip in winning fashion.
Werner Starts Fast in Iowa
With the chance to race against Europeans one more time this week, Kerry Werner said after the race that he wanted to mix it up with the Euros as much as he could on Sunday. Werner was the second rider to the holeshot and then helped lead the way out onto course.
After the first run up Mt. Krumpit, Werner came bombing down alongside Thijs Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) with a several-second lead on the other riders. At the end of the first lap, the two had a 6-second gap over a large group of riders.
The duo's lead was short-lived.
When the head of the race reached the Holly Jolly Hellhole high-low off-camber, the three Telenet Fidea riders sprinted through the section and took away Werner's lead position. Werner, however, recovered and a lap and a half in, it was Aerts, Cleppe, Boros, Aernouts and Werner at the front. Werner's plan to mix it up with the Euros was going well.
By the end of the second lap, Cleppe, Boros and Aernouts got some space on Werner and Aerts. Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle - Groove Subaru) and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice) also dangled nearby.
With Werner throwing caution to the wind and asserting himself, the Werners' dog Sherman even made an appearance course-side to will Werner to a podium puppy situation.
Cleppe Makes His Move
In the third lap, Cleppe made his move. He sprinted up Mt. Krumpit and pressed his lead at the top of the hill. At the bottom, he had already picked up eight seconds on Aernouts. At the end of the lap, it was 10. Boros survived the frenetic lap in third, just a few seconds behind Aernouts.
The next lap, Cleppe accelerated while Aernouts faded a bit. Cleppe's lead was now 28 seconds. No one would come close to touching him the rest of the race.
He departs the U.S. with a C1 win and points to cap his trip.
"My teammate was making the tempo the first few laps and I followed," Cleppe said. "I was feeling good. The third lap I had position and got a gap. Then the gap got bigger and bigger. I stayed concentrated for the rest of the race and won. I am feeling very happy."
The excitement in Sunday's race was in the chase for second. At the end of the fourth lap, the chance was Sweeck, Aerts, Werner and Boros. Not afraid of the Euros in his midst, Werner took a flier into Mt. Krumpit in Lap 5 and entered the feature with a several-second lead. At the top, Sweeck completely cracked and Sieben Wouters (Creafin TUV Sud) stepped up to join the group of four.
Werner made it through 6 of 10 laps with the chase. At the start of Lap 7, Wouters sped through the off-camber and came out with an advantage on the other riders. After the Mt. Krumpit descent, he sat in third, a few seconds behind Aernouts, who was riding solo in no-man's-land for a good part of the race.
Stuck between first and third is often a tough place to be, and Aernouts faded back to Boros and Wouters at the start of Lap 8. The three stayed connected until the final surge down the long start/finish straight at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.
Wouters won the three-up sprint for second and Boros took third.
Werner finished sixth, Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) seventh, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) eighth and Jack Kisseberth (Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) to round out North Americans in the top 10.
Full results and photos are below.