Best dressed? Biggest bromance? We're handing out superlatives for a superlative season!
The cyclocross season is coming to a close after five months of white knuckle racing and intrigue. This past weekend marked the last races in the Superprestige and X2O Trofee series, concluding the sport’s major prizes. Just like that, we’ll soon be hanging up our Boones.
The Baloise Trek Lions are going out with a bang after a season full of incredible performances. Lars van der Haar and Lucinda Brand each added one more win to their impressive season totals at the Superprestige finale in Gavere on Saturday, and Pim Ronhaar won the men’s U23 race in Brussels on Sunday to secure his X2O Trofee series overall victory.
The team’s collective success was astounding. By the numbers:
- 39 victories and 94 podiums, both the most of any single team this season.
- Lucinda Brand had 19 wins and 28 podiums by herself in a masterful follow-up to her 2020-21 World Championship season.
- Five series overall victories. Pim Ronhaar and Toon Aerts took the men’s U23 and elite X2O Trofee overall titles, respectively, while Brand did a clean sweep of the World Cup, Superprestige and X2O Trofee series.
- Three European titles in one glorious weekend. (And several VERY more close calls at Worlds.)
We can’t help but get a little misty-eyed thinking about all the memories that the team provided this year. It feels a little like the end of a chapter — until next season — for a tight-knit group of riders. With that, we’re handing out some superlatives, high school yearbook-style.
Best dressed - Lucinda Brand
Nobody in cyclocross can accessorize quite like Brand, who wore rainbow stripes for most of the year while having the World Cup and European Championship winners’ jerseys in reserve. That’s not to mention all the shiny baubles and trinkets she collected. Her 19 wins accounted for nearly half of Baloise Trek’s victories on the season. She can throw together a helluva ensemble.
It’s difficult to fathom how dominant she was. Brand took the podium in all but three of her 31 races, excelling from end to end straight off a full calendar of road races and the 2020-21 cyclocross season.
Brand didn’t secure the rainbow jersey again (though she came oh so close), but she arguably surpassed her already stellar efforts from the season before in every other way. Suffice it to say, Lucinda Brand will never go out of style.
Best bromance - Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar
Aerts and Van der Haar have long been two of the best and steadiest riders in cyclocross, and during the 2021-22 season they collaborated for eight wins and 34 podiums. Together, they had 67 race starts, meaning odds were at least one of them would be finishing top three in any given race.
And with Van der Haar’s win and Aerts’ third place in Gavere, the two also combined for five shared podiums this season, the most ever in the five seasons that they’ve been teammates.
The two complement each other as riders, with Aerts’ diesel power well-suited for wet and difficult tracks, and Van der Haar’s technicality and fast sprint making him a threat in dry and fast conditions. As a dynamic duo, they made Baloise Trek a contender in every race within an ultra-competitive elite men’s field.
Biggest breakout - Shirin van Anrooij
Van Anrooij didn’t get the star turn she deserved during the 2020-21 season due to a poorly timed injury at the end of November. This year, however, she showed that good things come to those who wait. She shined among a stellar group of U23 women’s riders, winning the U23 European Championship, and nearly winning rainbow stripes in Fayetteville.
The 20-year-old quickly squashed any questions about taking on a full cyclocross season, and firmly established herself as one of the most exciting young riders in the sport. Like Brand, she’ll also be racing for Trek-Segafredo on the road this year. Van Anrooij is fully ready for the spotlight.
Most likely to succeed - Thibau Nys
Nys’ season was interrupted by injuries, but when he was healthy, he flashed the pedigree and power that has made him one of the most closely-followed riders in cyclocross.
Nys is the son of Sven Nys, Baloise Trek team manager and one of the most decorated cyclocross riders ever. Thibau is carrying heavy expectations on his shoulders, but thus far the 19-year-old has handled the pressure with aplomb. He shined during the holiday racing period, winning three straight U23 X2O Trofee races, and took third at World Championships in a three-man heads-up sprint.
Nys has boundless potential, which combined with his background makes him one of the most captivating riders in the sport. We can’t wait to see what he does with a full season.
Most entertaining - Pim Ronhaar
Ronhaar had a fascinating debut season with Baloise Trek. He wore the rainbow stripes as the 2021 U23 men’s world champion, and secured five wins and eight podiums in 28 races.
The 20-year-old also experienced some growing pains. But after four finishes outside the top 10 during the first month of the season, he had just two from November onwards. With three X2O Trofee wins, he handily took the overall title in the series. (Nys took second for a Baloise Trek 1-2.) And he scored his first ever elite World Cup podium when he took third behind Eli Iserbyt and Toon Aerts in Besançon.
Ronhaar is still learning how to become a more consistent rider, but his raw power belies his age. When Ronhaar is on form, few people can stop him.