Hoogstraten is a unique venue for a cyclocross race. The race is held on the grounds of a business park with much of the action taking place on man-made bumps and berms right in the center of the various office buildings and warehouses. I caught up with Dylan Postier of the Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare team after the race to get his perspective the features of this unique course. His comments are included with the captions below.
Mechanics heading to the pit.
“For one thing, there’s hardly any grass. (on any Belgian courses) So you don’t have grass sticking to everything like we have issues with in America. That’s typically the number one thing you talk about when it becomes muddy in America: ‘how much grass are we going to have’ and ‘how often are we going to have to pit?’ The only reason I wanted to pit at these races was because there was so much sand and grit in my drivetrain. I just wanted a fresh drivetrain. It wasn’t because the bikes were getting heavy or the mud was sticking.” -DP
Ceylin Carmen del Alvarado leads Annemarie Worst on the first lap of the race.
“You could ride this on the outside. There were really deep ruts. Or you could go on the inside and it was a lot smoother but it was really steep. Even during warm-ups there were fans there that were moving the tape out for you to make it wider. I found it interesting that there were people that were that engaged even while we were pre-riding to move the tape for me to make riding it easier.” – DP
Denise Betsema stumbles. Close behind her is Puck Pieterse. Betsema eventually finished on the podium in third place. Pieterse went on to finish 13th.
Rebecca Fahringer. Fahringer was the top-placed American woman in 15th place.
“I think the line during the race was obviously running. It got deeper and heavier. It rained so much during the end of the women’s race and before ours that the course changed quite a bit.” – DP
Eventual second-place finisher Anne-Marie Worst ascends the large “hill.” Worst finished ten seconds behind winner Sanne Cant and five seconds ahead of 3rd place, Denise Betsema.
Loes Sels gets her bars caught in the course rope.
“In warm-ups I hit it (the course rope) once but I was pretty fortunate. Everyone was looking for traction and I saw quite a few people getting into those. That rope is definitely not forgiving and it’s interesting that they use that.” – DP
Eva Lechner on the “adverse-camber.”
“You needed to ride the high line like she is doing. If you ran it or rode the bottom line you weren’t able to get up onto the ledge of the next feature. I think Mathieu actually rode the next section when he put in that dig to get away from Toon. And it was because he rode this little ledge here flawlessly.”
One of the many many muddy puddles on the course.
“The dirt here is so much different than what we have at home. What looks like mud on TV is actually more of a quicksand mixture. You have these extremely sloppy, sandy, muddy sections that get into absolutely everything. I went through two bottom brackets that race. We all destroyed all of our brake pads. And it wasn’t really that muddy of a race if you compare it to something like (US) nationals. They have such a different soil here.” -DP
“The main line coming off of that drop was just to Sanne’s left but there was a line that developed later in the race and only a couple people would hit it when I found it because there were hardly any ruts there. It was the main rut Sanne’s in right now but just a few inches to the right of her. It was a new line that stuck you right up against the pole. It was completely smooth but it was pretty scary because it put you right up against that pole. So it was one of those ‘risk vs reward’ type of situations.” -DP
Laura Verdonschot on the muddy steps.
“These were interesting. You had a steep drop immediately into these stairs. And then you had another steep drop right after this into a deep sand/mud mixture. It was a actually a really hard remount because it was so quick. It was definitely shorter than most fly-overs. And then you just had this rough rutted G-out at the bottom.” – DP
Erica Zaveta dismounts before the stairs.
“There was definitely a lot of dismounting. There were three or four forced dismounts, obstacles where there was just no other way. And then there were other obstacles where it was a lot faster to get off. I’m not sure of the exact count but you may have been getting on and off your bike ten times, counting the pit, per lap.” -DP
Ismael Estaban hops the planks.
“It was really muddy before (the planks) and the tops were three inches wide, at least. In theory it should be really easy to hop them but I actually saw a lot of people wrecking on them. I don’t know if it was because it was so soupy here or what.” -DP
Belgian beer holder.
Lars van der Haar on the transition to the back side of the course. Van der Haar claimed 7th place, one of four Telenet-Fidea Lions in the top 7.
Quinten Hermans, Jim Aernouts, Michael Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt on the big drop-in.
“Toon actually crashed on (this drop). That was after Mathieu had attacked and he kind of started falling apart and making mistakes. This was one of the places he crashed.” -DP
Eric Thompson on the tricky off-camber. Thompson finished the race in 37th, two laps down.
“It goes to show how tied together a lot of these sections are and how you have to think ahead about your lines. If you mess one thing up on the descent before this one you’re not able to ride two (obstacles) later.” – DP
Sieben Wouters not nailing the entry to the tricky off-camber.
“Before this section you were dropping in as well and there were a bunch of curving ruts. So it wasn’t like you had a straight shot into this ledge. You had to hit the rut perfectly, curving, then hop up onto this ledge. Ride it perfectly, then drop down into a large mud puddle just to get up on top of the next steep little obstacle.” – DP
Van der Poel and Aerts on the run-up.
“One thing that really stuck out to me was how loud and how engaged the crowds were (for the leaders). Being back in the pack you don’t have many people cheering for you. I was following pretty close behind (after getting lapped – ed) them and the roar was pretty cool. I’m assuming that’s an experience that, if people had that many people cheering for them, they wouldn’t forget.” -DP
Kerry Werner. Werner was the top American finisher in 32nd place.
“It (the number of dismounts per lap) just goes to show how important technique is. If you’re getting on and off your bike ten times, and you’re not as efficient as somebody else… even if you just lose half a second… you’re talk two to three to even ten seconds per lap. The time adds up when you’re doing something so repetitively.” -DP
Michael Vanthourenhout runs his bike. Vanthourenhout finished in an uncharacteristic 12th place. His teammate Iserbyt fared better, finishing in 4th, one spot ahead of his rival Tom Pidcock.
Tom Meeusen runs his bike over a small but typically un-rideable hill late in the race.
Mathieu van der Poel wins. Van der Poel has won every race since he donned his new rainbow jersey.
Daan Soete after the finish.
Follow Dylan on Instagram at: @postier105 and Garneau-Easton at: @garneaueaston
Follow Ethan on Instagram at: @thepenultimatestage