Cyclocross World Cup, Koksijde – sand, frites and Leffe

Yesterday myself and a group of Redhillites took a trip over to Koksijde, in Belgium, to watch the Cyclocross World Cup in all its cheesy music (Bella Italia was by favourite..), Frites and Leffe glory.

An 8am ferry to Dieppe meant a 5am start, but plenty of coffee, and the promise of Belgium waffles (which never materialised) was enough to power us through.

The coastal town holds a UCI World Cup every year, and it’s known to be a draining annual event, with thick sand dunes making for tough riding.

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The women’s event came first, and until the final lap, the battle between Sanne Cant, Sabrina Stultiens and Sophie de Boer looked set to be decided right on the line.

On the final rolling sandy section, Cant attacked, leaving Stultiens to race Sophie de Boer for second once they hit the final tarmac stretch.

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Taking third place was enough to put Sophie de Boer into first place in the overall World Cup standings, ahead of the next round in Milton Keynes (UK!!) next weekend,

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The mens race was dominated by Wout Van Aert, who broke away in the first lap, first chased by Mathieu van der Poel, who eventually dropped off as Van Aert continued to increase his lead.

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The fight for second and third came down to a battle between Kevin Pauwels and Mathieu van der Poel, with Pauwels taking the victory of the two to put him into the lead on the overall standings.

Belgium National Champion Sven Nys received huge cries of support from the home crowd, but his often dominant position didn’t seem to be holding at this race, and he worked backwards during the hour, eventually taking 15th place.

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Tired from all the hard work of watching riders run through thick sand with their bikes…

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Clamber over obstacles with them…

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And jump on and off them so artfully…

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RideWriteRepeat and crew headed home via the ferry – a great way to spend a day and an event that’s highly recommended.

The event in Koksijde is beautifully organised, my only criticism being 100s of stand up urinals for men, dotted all over the field, and one unisex block which took me half the event to find. This might be justifiable if there hadn’t been many female spectators, but there were plenty.

The crowd, as you’d expect at a cyclocross race, was hugely varied and of course ever enthusiastic.

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The UCI Cyclocross World Cup comes to Milton Keynes next weekend – an easier trip for probably (almost) as much fun. Check out the details: http://www.miltonkeynesworldcupx.com/

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