NIEL, Belgium—On Armistice Day, as Belgium celebrated the end of World War I 98 years ago, a few of the world's best cyclocrossers took part in a more peaceful contest at the muddy, off-camber-filled battlegrounds of Jaamarktcross.
At the third stop of the 2016 Soudal Classics cyclocross series, many of the sports biggest stars stayed home to save their amunition for Sunday's Superprestige Gavere race, setting the stage for a Telenet Fidea Lions and Marlux - Napoleon Games team showdown.
Telenet Fidea's newly-crowned UEC European Champ Toon Aerts showed once again when the dominant duo is away, he's one of the favorites. Aerts wasted no time in getting to the front, chasing down the early leader in teammate Jim Aernouts and then setting off on his own.
Behind, what looked to be a Telenet Fidea team time trial was interrupted first by Philipp Walsleben (Beobank–Corendon) and then Kevin Pauwels (Marlux - Napoleon Games).
The cyclocross "Spiral of Doom," often seen at American cyclocross races, made its appearance and allowed racers to monitor their competitors.
Racers dealt with a heavy, muddy course that wasn't as wet as the epic race in 2007 (see our Throwback Thursday video here), but instead featured thicker mud and rutted off-cambers that were barely runable. Pit crews were busy, as many racers changed bikes every half lap.
Pauwels eventually escaped to chase Aerts on his own, with Corne van Kessel staying close in third. Early chasers Aernouts and Walsleben faded to fourth and fifth.
Aerts hopped the barriers, allowing him to ride a slight climb to a tricky turn, saving precious seconds each lap. His lead grew to the point that even a late-race spill gave him little reason to panic.
See below for the full results and photo gallery. See the women's 2016 Jaarmarktcross race report, photo gallery and results here.
2016 Soudal Classics Jaamarktcross Niel Results – Elite Men
|1||Toon Aerts||Telenet Fidea Lions||1:02:00|
|2||Kevin Pauwels||Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:35|
|3||Corne Van Kessel||Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:37|
|4||Philipp Walsleben||Philipp Walsleben||0:01:14|
|5||Tom Meeusen||Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:20|
|6||Jim Aernouts||Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:29|
|7||Marcel Meisen||Team Kuota Lotto||0:01:38|
|8||Dieter Vanthourenhout||Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:01:55|
|9||Gianni Vermeersch||Team Steylaerts||0:02:07|
|10||Stan Godrie||Rabobank Development Team||0:02:48|
|13||Thijs Aerts||Telenet Fidea Lions||0:04:18|
|14||Twan Van Den Brand||Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:18|
|16||Patrick Van Leeuwen||Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:45|
|17||Julien Taramarcaz||Julien Taramarcaz||0:04:45|
|18||Kenneth Van Compernolle||0:05:41|