Wout van Aert entered the cyclocross season with two second places. The duel on a fast, dry and technically not that challenging course in Waterloo, Wisconsin was followed a week later by another duel in more difficult conditions with two-time winner Toon Aerts in Iowa City, Iowa.
First World Cup Race in Waterloo
The fast course in Waterloo turned the race into a shoot-out: In the middle of the race only seven riders were still in the lead group: Besides Wout Van Aert it was Toon Aerts, Quinten Hermans, Corné Van Kessel, Laurens Sweeck, Daan Soete and Eli Iserbyt. After a couple of errors and crashes by the competition only Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert had remained while Laurens Sweeck was about to catch up to them.
When Toon Aerts attacked three laps before the finish, van Aert, who after a strong road season (including an overall win in the Tour of Denmark) was not on top of his game yet, and could not keep up. Sweeck eventually came in third.
Also riding a STEVENS Super Prestige, Tim Merlier of team Crélan-Charles finished a strong ninth. His female team mate Maud Kaptheijns rode to a respectable seventh place in the Women’s Elite race. World Champion Sanne Cant of IKO-Beobank rode her Super Prestige to a tenth place. The serial winner of last year, who also had competed in a long road season, did not have a good start and was busy fending off the competition from within the field rather than just dealing with the challenges of the race course.