LIGNIERES-EN-BERRY, France—The sun came out fully for the Men’s Elite race at the World Cup in Lignieres today.
And as they took to the course it was a similar sequence to the opening circuits of the Elite Women’s event around the fast, mostly flat track as the riders stayed grouped together for much of the first 15 minutes of the hour long fight.
Off the line Jeremy Powers had a good start, but was caught in traffic along with the reigning World Champion Mathieu van der Poel. As they both tried to work their way back up, it was Laurens Sweeck who dictated the pace up front.
— Amanda Nauman (@_amanda_panda_) January 17, 2016
As the race went through the first two laps, it was a dozen riders, riding mostly single file, that led the parade. But shortly thereafter the first break in the field occurred cuased by Sven Nys. It wasn’t a blistering attack, but Nys going foot down on a short, steep bank that caused Tim Merlier coming from behind to hit him and cause a chain reaction further back. It was in fact the same spot that saw Sanne Cant have her one bobble in the Women’s Elite racer earlier. As Nys got moving and Merlier fell, tangling with others, the five riders that were just ahead of Nys sought to take advantage and upped the pace.
Like Nys who ultimately wasn’t too bothered by the bobble, the World Champion deftly ran through the chaos, and shortly there was a group of eight containing van der Poel, European Champion Lars van der Haar, Nys and World Cup leader Wout van Aert who would form the race’s top placed riders.
While Nys continued throughout the remainder of the race to struggle with that same bank, it was on the line at four to go that the World Champion took to the front.
On that same lap, it was van Aert’s turn to struggle on the spot Nys fought. His bobble opened a a gap to van der Poel and van der haar who had slotted into second. The pair saw the error and were off to the races as van Aert moved quickly to try to get back across the 100 meter gap that was quickly growing.
Van Aert ultimately closed in on van der Haar. The pair were racing not only for the podium today, but also the lead in the World Cup standings with just 16 points separating them. As van Aert made contact, van der Poel was attacking the course, further stringing out the lead group of eight riders.
With just three laps to go it seemed only a severe mistake could change the outcome for the win. Van der Poel’s lead was up to 10 seconds, and behind the chasing van de Haar and van Aert, Meeusen, Sweek, Kevin Pauwels and Nys fought for fourth with additional chasers even further adrift.
Van der Poel took to the air on the flyover on the second to last lap, giving the crowd a little flair. With a lead of 25 seconds going into the final lap there was time for some showmanship.
In the fight for second, there was no such time luxury, as van der Haar had van Aert on his wheel at the bell lap 25 seconds adrift of the clearly conserving World Champion, but an additional 25 seconds ahead of the race for fourth.
Van Aert and van der Haar would duke it out through the next half lap, changing positions. But it was the World Cup leading van Aert that was able to take the second step on the podium today, with an acceleration and a steady tempo distancing of third place van der Haar.
Powers, the lone American Elite Men’s racer, ended up 23rd. Ian Field from Great Britain was 39th. Canada’s Michael van den Ham was 45th, Aaron Schooler was 51st and Mark McConnell finished 53rd. Australian Garry Millburn was 47th.
2016 World Cup Lignieres-en-Berry Elite Men's Full Results
|1||Mathieu VAN DER POEL||NED||21||1:00:50|
|2||Wout VAN AERT||BEL||22||1:01:03|
|3||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||25||1:01:07|
|13||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||25||1:02:47|
|14||David VAN DER POEL||NED||24||1:02:48|
|22||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||30||1:03:51|
|28||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||27||1:04:30|
|30||Ismael ESTEBAN AGUANDO||ESP||33||1:04:53|
|31||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||37||1:04:55|
|43||Aitor HERNANDEZ GUTIERREZ||ESP||34||1:06:19|
|45||Michael VAN DEN HAM||CAN||24||1:06:23|
|52||Inigo GOMEZ ELORRIAGA||ESP||25|
|54||Asier ARREGUI DOMINGUEZ||ESP||38|