Lucinda Brand, Toon Aerts win twin Superprestige titles for Baloise Trek

Brand and Aerts chase their strong World Championships performances with big season prizes

Coming off a magical weekend in Oostende, Lucinda Brand and Toon Aerts sewed up overall wins in the Superprestige series this Saturday, earning just rewards for a consistent string of powerful performances.

The Superprestige series consists of eight races each season. In 2020-21, those races took place in Gieten, Ruddervoorde, Niel, Merksplas, Boom, Gavere, Heusden-Zolder and, finally, Middelkerke, where Brand took third and Aerts took sixth to solidify their top spots in the points competition. Both riders had to fight hard to stay atop the standings, winning by two points each — Brand over 2020 World Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, and Aerts over 23-year-old Eli Iserbyt.

Brand, who raced in the rainbow jersey for the first time as the newly-crowned World Champion, was put under slightly less pressure than Aerts on Saturday. She needed to stay within three places of Alvarado to beat her on the overall, which meant that simply finishing top four — which Brand has not once failed to do this season — would be enough.

Lucinda Brand racing in the rainbow striped jersey for the first time.

Toon Aerts pumping his fist after securing the Superprestige overall victory in Middelkerke.

That said, an early fall on the course put Brand on uneven footing, forcing her to chase Alvarado and eventual race winner Denise Betsema from the middle of the bunch. Fortunately for Brand, the hilly course suited her, and she finished third — one spot and 36 seconds behind Alvarado, and a comfortable 1:18 ahead of sixth place Sanne Cant.

Aerts had to sweat out his results a little more. His sixth place finish meant that Iserbyt could have tied him on the overall standings with a win. Fortunately for Aerts, his fellow Belgian took third, nearly a minute behind two of his teammates, Michael Vanthourenhout and winner Laurens Sweeck.

The overall victories cap two strong seasons from the Baloise Trek riders. Brand has a World Cup overall title to go with her Superprestige overall and World Championship. Aerts, after a season in which he stood on fewer podiums than he had hoped, secured a third straight World Championships bronze medal and the Superprestige overall as part of an excellent closing act.

Toon Aerts trudging through the snow in Lille.

Lucinda Brand holding off an elite group of riders in Lille.

With a few weeks left, one major season prize remains: The X2O Badkamers Trofee

Unlike the Superprestige or World Cup series, the X2O Trofee standings are based on time across eight races (a ninth race, in Loenhout, was canceled this season). Brand currently holds a 41-second lead over Betsema on the women’s standings, while Aerts is in second place by 3:02 behind Iserbyt and 11 seconds ahead of Vanthourenhout among the men.

On Sunday, both riders defended their overall positions at the penultimate X2O Trofee race in Lille this past Sunday, but they will have plenty of work to do in the finale next Sunday in Brussels.

Brand came up just a tire’s width short of a 13th season win in a heads-up sprint against Alvarado. Both riders were evenly matched through five snowy laps, pulling ahead of Betsema, Cant and Annemarie Worst early in the final circuit. Alvarado proved to be a game antagonist in pipping Brand at the line, but the World Champion did gain some much needed breathing room in the standings — Betsema lost 13 seconds in taking third place.

Rainbow Lucinda gets a rainbow duck.

Aerts finished sixth in yet another tightly contested men’s race. Eight riders finished within one minute of the winner, Sweeck. Aerts was 42 seconds out of first and, importantly, 32 seconds behind second-place Vanthourenhout, who is now within arm’s reach of snatching Aerts’ second-place standing in Brussels.

If Aerts is able to hold off his countryman, he will take the third overall silver in the X2O Trofee (formerly DVV Trophy) competition of his career. Brand, along with winning her first ever World Cup, Superprestige AND World Championship, would take her first ever X2O Trofee gold to cap what has been a nearly flawless season.

The book on the 2020-21 cyclocross season is coming to an end. Next weekend, Brand and Aerts can finish it with a flourish.