El público vibró con el mejor ciclocross del mundo. (c) BenidormCX / Álvaro García Herrero

Mathieu Van der Poel and Fem van Empel reign in Benidorm’s great cyclocross party

Thousands of fans filled the Benidorm venue on a magical Sunday for Spanish cyclocross

Party. A huge party. This is the only way to describe all what happened in the Foietes and El Moralet parks during this historical Sunday in Benidorm. The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup – Benidorm Costa Blanca 2023 has not only been a success in terms of crowds, with fans completely filling the venue. It also offered a beautiful sporting spectacle on a course that offered some of the most exciting races of the entire CX season.

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La meta de la carrera Elite masculina, resuelta en un mano a mano entre Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) y Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling
(c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling

With 13.000 devoted souls filling the Benidorm course, the Men Elite race, with Wout van Aert, Mathieu Van der Poel and Tom Pidcock as its marquee names, did not disappoint anyone. It was the world champion who, in his last race of the season –he will not defend the rainbow jersey in Hoogerheide– opened fire, trying to open a gap from the very start.

The Brit did his best, but his rivals, knowing how fast and treacherous the circuit was, would not give him any room. The favorites rode in a group, as expected, for a large part of the race and the final selection was made, little by little, when the weakest began to drop. Finally, already in the last lap, the battle was reduced to the duel that everyone wanted to witness. The great fight between the two great dominators of winter cycling in recent years. Wout van Aert against Mathieu Van der Poel. Pure strength against absolute elegance.

The last lap was, quite simply, an ode to cyclocross, with its two biggest stars literally stuck together. Arriving at the finish line, it was Van der Poel who entered the final straight in the first position. Van Aert, glued to his rear wheel, went wide into the last corner. He stumbled. One of those minimal mistakes that, at this level, mean the enormous difference between success and failure. Van der Poel won. Van Aert, happy despite everything, finished second.

Eli Iserbyt, longtime World Cup leader, won his particular battle with Laurens Sweeck, who finished fourth yet clinched the overall UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup victory.

Laurens Sweeck, ganador de la Copa del Mundo de Ciclocross UCI Elite Masculina. (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling
Laurens Sweeck. (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling

Laurens Sweeck, overall winner of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup

After developing a fever overnight, Michael Vanthourenhout decided not to start in Benidorm allowing Laurens Sweeck, who was already leading the World Cup, to mathematically claim the final victory of the tournament before next Sunday’s race in Besançon (France). Sweeck added 22 points to his tally today at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup – Benidorm Costa Blanca 2023, and has now gained an irretrievable advantage of 46 points over Vanthourenhout.

Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma) firma su victoria. (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling
Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma). (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling

Fem van Empel is crowned in Benidorm

The Women Elite race was hectic and exciting. As in the case of the men, the best cyclists in the world fought an unpredictable and speedy fight with very few differences among the big favourites. Finally, and as all the fans dreamed of, things came down to a merciless battle between Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse, the two best riders throughout this season. Finally, and thanks to her success in Benidorm, her seventh victory out of thirteen races, Van Empel claimed her mathematical win in the overall classification of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup.

Lauren Molengraaf, triunfadora de la categoría juvenil femenina. (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling
Lauren Molengraaf. (c) BenidormCX / Sprint Cycling

Thibau Nys, pure speed

Thibau Nys was the fastest in the extremely tight sprint that ended the Men U23 race at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup – Benidorm Costa Blanca 2023. Nys managed to stick to Tibor Del Grosso's wheel as they came out of the last stretch of grass towards the finish, where the son of the 'Cannibal of Baal' and the Dutchman gave it all in a 'volata' in which the wearer of the World Cup leader's jersey showed his pure speed to clame victory. Nys has now won all four races in this edition of this season’s U23 World Cup and has already mathematically confirmed his overall victory.

Lauren Molengraaf wins the World Cup

Lauren Molengraaf was the best in the Women Junior race of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup – Benidorm Costa Blanca 2023. With this victory she also certifies her final win in the general classification of the 2022-2023 World Cup. The Dutch had a great one-on-one fight against the Holmgren sisters and Célia Gery. Almost at the finish line, the Dutchman managed to open a small gap of just five seconds over the Canadians Isabella and Ava Holmgren, who in the end were second and third.

Yordi Corsus, first winner of the day

The Men Junior cyclists opened the competition on Sunday at the Foietes and El Moralet parks. At 9:30 am sharp, the start was given for a race in which the Belgian Yordi Corsus was the bes in a very fast course. The favorites formed a group a rode all together for the whole race, leaving it all to a very tight finish in which Corsus emerged as the fastest ahead of fellow Belgians Seppe Van de Boer and Viktor Vandenberghe. Frenchman Léo Bisiaux, who finished seventh in Benidorm, remains the leader of the World Cup with just one race to go and a 26 points lead over the Dutchman Guus van den Heijden, sixth at the finish line today.

El Parque de Foietes, atestado, y el característico skyline de Benidorm. (c) BenidormCX / Álvaro García Herrero
(c) BenidormCX / Álvaro García Herrero