Wout Van Aert and Katherine Nash make UCI World Cup history at Clif Bar CrossVegas
Another chapter in the global spread of cycle sport began with emphatic victories for Belgium’s Wout Van Aert and Czech Katerina Nash when 120 Elite cyclists from 20 countries contested the first-ever North American UCI Cyclocross World Cup race, the Clif Bar CrossVegas, September 16.
It was an auspicious start for World Cup cyclocross in North America. A crowd estimated at over 12,000 showed up to watch the night-time race, the competition was fast, tactical and exciting, and the strong international field of athletes commented on how much they enjoyed racing in front of these noisy, yet non-partisan spectators.
With desert winds raking the grassy venue for the night-time race, the men’s field formed large, fast-moving groups. “It seems like it’s a really course with a lot of obstacles, but it’s not at all easy. The ground is really heavy. It’s a power course. You have to be pushing hard on the pedals always,” said race winner Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace). Veterans of this venue are familiar with the energy-sapping grass that comprises almost 100% of the 3.3km course. The only respite was a sand pit.
Michael VanThourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), one of the emergent generation of Belgian and Dutch stars, lit up the race with a third-lap attack, riding away from a huge bunch of fast-moving riders and quickly opened a gap of 30 seconds.
Two-time winner at Cross Vegas, Sven Nys, bided his time for a couple more laps then set off in pursuit with Van Aert. “When I went to the front, I saw it was the right moment, the strongest rider in the peloton was on my wheel, I went, he went with me and we did a time trial to close the gap as soon as possible. It was good to have just the two of us escape from the peloton,” said Nys.
The gap was closed in under a lap and the leading trio stayed together for almost two laps, until Van Aert made his move.
“The hardest part of the course had three climbs close together so I attacked there,” said Van Aert, who quickly opened up a lead with his well-timed effort. “When I was alone in the last two laps it was really hard to keep my pace, and I was happy to see the finish line,” he said.
Nys’ move had blown the peloton apart, and US national champion, Jeremy Powers, took advantage. “When Sven went away I had got swarmed and was too far back to go with him, so I had to force my own move, and it was great to be able to do that,” he said. Two riders went with Powers: young Dutch star Lars Van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin), and Belgian veteran Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games). Having done much of the work in the early part of this move, Powers was left a little short in the closing meters and had to settle for sixth place, but nonetheless was satisfied with his night’s work.
“It was a different level than years past because the depth of talent in the field was so much greater, and it felt great to be wearing the national champion’s jersey in the first cyclocross world cup in America,” he said.
Women’s winner Katarina Nash (Luna) maintains her Czech nationality, but after several years living in the USA, by now Americans regard the San Francisco resident as one of their own.
The women’s race had boiled down to a leading group of five riders: Nash, Italian champion Eva Lechner, Belgian champion Sanne Cant, Georgia Gould (Luna), of the USA, and Canada’s Catherine Pendrel (Luna). Then with 1.5 laps to go Nash made her move.
She sped to a 50-meter gap in very short time, and held onto a lead that was 15 seconds by the finish.
“I never start to think about winning until I cross the finish line,” said Nash, “but I got a gap and then I pushed it really hard and I was happy to see that nobody came back. I’ve been to every Cross Vegas except one, and it was special to win this one that’s the first world cup race in the USA.”
Gould made an effort to go clear of the four-rider group on the last lap, but Lechner’s counter was the move that stuck. And the crowd appreciated her effort. “It was a really good race with a really nice atmosphere. The Americans were really cheering everybody, and I liked it a lot,” Lechner said later.
Belgian champion Sanne Cant had enough left to outsprint her two rivals from the Luna team to claim the third podium spot.
CrossVegas 2015 Results
CLIF® Bar CrossVegas Announces Title Sponsor Renewal
CLIF Bar Extends Commitment Through 2017
Watts Marketing, organizer of CLIF®Bar CrossVegas, announced today that CLIF Bar has committed to a two-year extension of their title sponsorship. Already title sponsor of the 2015 race, the renewal extends CLIF Bar’s sponsorship of the cyclocross race through 2017.
The annual cyclocross race takes place Wednesday September 16th in 2015 following the first day of the Interbike show in Las Vegas. CLIF Bar has been title sponsor for the past five years.
Race director Brook Watts commented, “CLIF Bar has been a significant sponsor since the first year in 2007 and title sponsor since 2011, a period of sustained commercial success for CrossVegas. It’s remarkable to have such long-term sponsors for any event.”
“CLIF Bar CrossVegas is a fun and authentic event where we can connect and engage with the cyclocross community and celebrate athletic adventure,” said Brooke Donberg, field marketing manager at Clif Bar & Company. “Our partnership with this world-class event gives CLIF an opportunity to support riders and the audience with sports nutrition for sustained energy.”
As cyclocross participation and its fan base grows in the US, CLIF Bar CrossVegas will be in the spotlight globally with the event receiving UCI World Cup designation for 2015, the first ever outside of Europe. The event will be seen by an estimated 8 million TV viewers worldwide. Watts concluded, “It’s a great relationship and I’m excited to have CLIF Bar as a partner as CLIF Bar CrossVegas continues to grow internationally.”
About Clif Bar & Company
Clif Bar & Company is a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks, including CLIF® Bar energy bar, LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®; and CLIF Kid®, Nourishing Kids in Motion®. Focused on sports nutrition and snacks for adventure, the family and employee-owned company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit www.clifbar.com, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/clifbar and follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/clifbar
2014 Race Report: Sven Nys Repeats, Meredith Miller Surprises
Belgian Champion Sven Nys claimed back-to-back victory at the Clif Bar CrossVegas on Saturday evening. An enthusiastic crowd cheered as the 2013 World Champion accelerated away from a select lead group on the final lap. Dutch Champion Lars van der Haar, a three-time competitor at CrossVegas and winner of the 2011 edition was second. American Champion Jeremy Powers rounded off the podium.
“It was a tactical race. I wanted to wait until the last two or three laps before the end to do something special. A big group in the front [of the race] and it was always waiting, waiting but I felt myself really strong the whole race. I did a few accelerations to close the gap at the beginning of the race, and then I say okay if I can do this in the last lap, I can win if I don't make any mistakes. It went like I hoped and I'm really happy with a victory here, my second one. It's good for the motivation for the next races in Europe.” Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) stated.
Van der Haar (Shimano-Giant) added, “I know Sven pretty well, I know what he does, I know where he does it so I knew that I had to be in front before the barriers but he was still able to get across. Then he knew where my two worst corners were, and he took advantage of that.”
“I felt good enough to do something tonight, I just didn't know what.” Powers (Rapha-Focus) said. “It's good company to be with. It's a good ride, at this time of the year it's good for me.”
Tactics were at the forefront for the first major event of the cyclocross season. A few solo attacks were attempted in the early laps but no rider was able to stay away for long. Halfway through the race, a select group of 12 riders was at the front, testing and watching each other.
Van der Har explained, “In the middle of the race, I tried to close a gap, I saw that it was pretty easy to close the gap but it took a lot of energy so you had to be careful with your energy. Everyone was taking it a little bit calmer, seeing what everyone was capable of.”
The group shuffled and reformed until Nys put in his attack on the barriers. Powers concluded, “As soon as he went, boom boom over the barriers, he had five seconds. His technique obviously helped him there and then he rode away.”
American Meredith Miller sprinted ahead of Katerina Nash of he Czech Republic and American Champion Katie Compton to win the 2014 Clif Bar CrossVegas presented by Lazer.
“Helen (Wyman) (Kona Factory Racing) started fast,” stated Miller (Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team). “She is a very good starter but I know this race is a race of attrition. I knew that I had to just follow the right wheels. At one point, I had to jump across. Once I did I felt okay. I settled in and took a deep breath. I told myself to just stay with these awesome women.”