Lucinda Brand wins Namur second year in a row and Toon Aerts takes World Cup lead
Telenet-Baloise rider Lucinda Brand fought through the cold, rain, wind, and deep mud to pull out a victory in Namur. She and the other top female finishers shivered on the podium as they accepted their trophies.
“It was a really hard race today,” Brand said. “In the last lap it was difficult. I had a big advantage but in the downhill I had some troubles. I had a small crash. Luckily I could keep a little bit of my advantage and with some aggression going up the hill I could increase a little bit again.”
Brand is now on a two-year Namur streak having won in 2018 as well. The course on Citadel of Namur’s grounds an hour south of Brussels is a formidable race to conquer. The Citadel’s builders positioned the fortress on this steep and rocky piece of land more than a thousand years ago. Those strategic conditions now set the stage on which cross riders battle.
In the men’s race, Telenet Baloise rider Toon Aerts and Mathieu van der Poel put on an incredible show as they vied for the lead position.
Though Aerts came second in the race, he gained a new title as World Cup leader with the points he earned in Namur. Former World Cup points leader Eli Iserbyt bailed out of the race early on and was supported in his walk away from the competition while shaking uncontrollably from the biting conditions.
“I’m very happy to be the GC leader in the World Cup again!” Aerts said. “With all the rain and water on the course, this is the coldest I’ve ever been in a race. Being so cold made finesse and steering very difficult. In the end, that probably caused my fall. I’m very proud of my race today, but obviously disappointed with my crash.”
In the last lap of the race, Aerts’ chase to finish ahead of van der Poel was foiled by a hard fall on slippery downhill section.
After slogging through foot-deep mud pools underlain by unseen rocks, the top finishers, which included Telenet Baloise rider Corne Van Kessel in third, struggled to regain warmth. They accepted their trophies with crossed arms and clenched teeth.
In the men’s junior race, Thibau Nys came away with his fourth consecutive World Cup win.
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Tune in for more cycling drama on December 26 for the World Cup in Heusden-Zolder.