Toon Aerts, Lucinda Brand and Pim Ronhaar take big leads in X2O Badkamers Trofee standings
After a thrilling Cyclocross World Championships weekend in the United States in both the men’s and women’s races, riders quickly boarded planes back to Europe in hopes of getting some rest ahead of the final two weekends of cyclocross racing for the season. Two of the sport’s biggest prizes are still on the line: The X2O Badkamer’s Trofee overall winner, based on cumulative time across eight races, and the Superprestige overall winner, based on a points system across seven races.
On Sunday, Toon Aerts, Lucinda Brand and Pim Ronhaar all won the seventh, and second-to-last, X2O Trofee race of the season in Lille. The event nearly didn’t take place thanks to pouring rain. Instead, we were treated to some quintessential muddy ‘cross, and Baloise Trek’s big-engine riders thrived.
In the elite men’s race, Aerts took a lead on the first lap, and only continued to extend his advantage over the next hour of racing, beating second-place Niels Vandeputte by 48 seconds. Crossing the finish line, he snagged himself a souvenir yellow duck and held it over his head. With a lead of 7:23 in the standings ahead of Eli Iserbyt, who finished 2:23 back on Sunday, Aerts should be be able to sew up the series title at the X2O Trofee series finale in Brussels next weekend.
While Aerts was making relatively easy work of the field, teammate Lars van der Haar was locked in a thrilling duel with Tom Meeusen for third. The two approached the line in a dead sprint, and Van der Haar just barely edged out the Belgian rider for a spot on the podium. With the result, Aerts and Van der Haar have now shared four podiums this season.
Like Aerts, Brand won in Lille by a healthy margin — 57 seconds over Annemarie Worst. The 2020-21 World Champion now has 18 wins this season, far outpacing even the eye-popping 12 she had year ago. She also now has a 2:55 lead in the overall X2O Trofee standings over Denise Betsema. As long as she stays upright, Brand should wrap up the X2O Trofee and Superprestige overall titles next weekend, giving her all three of cyclocross’ major series victories along with her World Cup overall.
For the men’s Under-23 overall title, it should be Baloise Trek 1-2: After his victory on Sunday, Ronhaar leads teammate Thibau Nys by 2:28, which is nearly 10 minutes ahead of third place Cameron Mason. In Lille, Ronhaar beat fellow Dutch rider Mees Hendrikx by 48 seconds. Nys took third in the sprint.
Next weekend’s Superprestige finale will take place on Saturday in Gavere, ahead the race in Brussels on Sunday. Baloise Trek riders are positioned to clean up some of cyclocross’ biggest prizes, capping a long and successful season in a grueling sport.