Hoogerheide is a cycling-centric village that has a storied cyclocross history. Home to the Van der Poel family and Thalita de Jong, the region has hosted cyclocross events since the 1960s and Hoogerheide has hosted the final World Cup event 15 times and the World Championships, twice.
If you play word association with a veteran cyclocross racer and say “Hoogerheide,” there is a really good chance the response will be “mud.” Last year’s edition, and many before it, featured a hard slog through thick mud. 2020 , however, bucked the trend and served up moderate temperatures and a full day of sunshine.
If you’ve watched the Hoogerheide World Cup race in year’s past you will notice the gradual residential development of the venue. Each year, more and more apartment buildings pop up giving purpose to the famous “stairway to nowhere,” that may keep its moniker but definitely lost its meaning as it’s now a stairway to somewhere.
Despite the dry, fast conditions, three of the four races on the day were marked by significant crashes and mechanicals.
Thibau Nys crashed in the junior race, which meant that in the last World Cup race of the year, he lost his first World Cup race of the year. He was still processing what it all meant on the podium.
In the U23 men’s race, World Cup overall leader, Kevin Kuhn, snapped a chain and had a long run and kick-push session back to the pits. Keeping the evidence wrapped around his hand the entire trip.
In the women’s elite race Ceylin Carmen Alvarado made one mistake on the tricky off-camber, a miscalculation she most likely would’ve recovered from if it had come on any lap but the last. Going from first to the back of the pack with only the sprint remaining left no room for a comeback.
That mistake assured Annemarie Worst would take the overall from Alvarado.
The men’s elite race included no similar drama. Mathieu van der Poel rode around with the field for several laps before deciding it was time to move. When he went to the front, you could tell we weren’t in Belgium anymore. The cheer that erupted was even louder than the gasp that accompanied Alvarado’s slip and slide.
For me, it was nice to see this iconic venue and to have dry, pleasant working conditions. It looks like World Champs will have the last laugh, however, as the rain and snow has already started around Dubendorf and it’s only supposed to pick up as the weekend approaches.
Here are more images from the day.