The least you can say is that the two main competitions of the 43rd International Cyclo-cross of the ACC Contern weren't full of suprises: the win went to one of the expected favourites of the race. In the elite men's event, there was again a duo who dominated the race and, if they weren't brothers like the Vanthourenouts in the two last years, they were team-mates nevertheless. It was normal though that the victory was for one of the two, Daan Soete, even if it wasn't the one who was expected the most. In the women's race, Christine Majerus was able to hold on to the front of the race during one lap, but soon had to settle down against Helen Wyman, who was impressive on a slippery, but not really muddy course. In the younger categories, however, there was lots of suspense until the very end for the win: Frenchman Ugo Bertrand in the junior race and Czech's Jan Zatloukal in the novice category had to wait until the very last meters before being able to celebrate their win.
13th GRAND-PRIX DE LA COMMUNE DE CONTERN
The story of this 13th Grand-prix de la Commune de Contern is easily told: as of the first lap, Daan Soete and Corne Van Kessel had distanced their rivals and the rider from Belgian did not wait very long to leave his Dutch team-mate also behind. After mid-race, Van Kessel seemed to be able to bridge up again as he divided the gap by two, but Soete had something left in the tank and accelerated again, finally wining the race with nearly a minute advantage. But behind the two men in black and yellow, there were some interesting battles for the next positions and the fight for the important title of best home rider remained undecided until the very end.
If Lex Reichling was leading the pack after the first uphill part on the road, the two riders from Telenet-Fidea didn't wait long to take over and, after the first lap, Van Kessel and Soete were around 15 seconds ahead of Czech rider Daniel Mayer and Luxemburg's fast starter Reichling. Closely behind them, Emil Hekele, Jonas Degroote, National champion Scott Thiltges, Thomas Van de Velde, Jonas Smet, Valentin Remondet and Vincent Dias Dos Santos followed in that order. Lubomir Petrus and Antonin Didier had missed their start and were riding several positions behind this group, just like the leader of the Skoda-Cross-Cup, Felix Schreiber, who was already about 20 seconds late on Reichling, the best home rider at that moment. Another lap later, Daan Soete was already alone in the lead, with a gap of 10 seconds on team-mate Van Kessel and already a lot more on Degroote and Hekele. Another ten seconds later, there was a little group of about 15 riders with Luxemburg's Reichling, Thiltges and Dias Dos Santos and also Schreiber and Didier, who were able to bridge up after a short chase.
At mid-race, the positions were following: Soete still leading with Van Kessel about 40 seconds behind, Degroote at une minute and 15 seconds and Hekele at 2 minutes and 20 seconds already in fourth place. But Thomas Vandevelde was riding only 20 seconds behind the Czech rider and closing the gap, while the first bigger group was another 15 seconds late and contained Thomas Verheyen, Valentin Remondet, Didier Antonin, Victor Thomas, Daniel Mayer, Jonas Smet, Scott Thiltges and Felix Schreiber. Lex Reichling had been dropped by this group a little bit earlier and Vincent Dias Dos Santos had also lost contact after a mechanical. He was chasing with Lubomir Petrus, about 20 seconds behind Thiltges and Schreiber.
Suddenly, it looked like the game was not over yet: Corne Van Kessel seemed to be able to bridge up to Soete since the gap had passed from 45 to 18 seconds in two laps and the Dutch rider now had his team-mate in sight. Behind them, Antonin Didier had attacked out of the chasing groupe and was closing the gep to Vandeveld who himself was bridging up to Hekele in the battle for fourth place. In the same time, Vincent Dias Dos Santos came back into the race for best home rider as he had passed Thiltges and was only seconds away from leader Felix Schreiber.
But Van Kessel's comeback was only an illusion: Soete smelled the danger in his back and accelerated again, increasing the gap between him and his lonely chaser. In the end, Daan Soete took the first professionnal victory of his career in Contern, 56 seconds ahead of Van Kessel. Jonas Degroote finished in third spot at 2'46", while Emil Hekele was able to drop Vandevelde and Didier in the last hectometers to take fourth place, four minutes late on Soete. Another thirty seconds later, Vincent Dias Dos Santos finished in thenth place as best home rider and took over the leader jersey of the Skoda Cross Cup from Felix Schreiber, who finished in 11th place for his first season as an U23 rider, only three little seconds down on Dias Dos Santos.
30th GRAND-PRIX COMAT
In the women's race, big favourite Helen Wyman also put the pressure on as of the first lap. The two times former European champion took the lead of the race during the first lap, but had to accept the presence of local hero Christine Majerus in her wheel. After one loop, both of them had only 5 seconds advantage on Joyce Vanderbeken, the third placed from last year, and fifteen seconds advantage on Suzanne Verhoeven and Cyriane Muller, the Belgian and the Frenchwoman. After that followed Esther Van der Burg, Joyce Heyns and Denisa Svekova, Luxemburg's second rider Nathalie Lamborelle, who was about 40 seconds late already, and then another group Linda Ter Beek, Elodie Kuijper, Aurelie Vermeir, Mascha Mulder and Laura Krans.
At the front of the race, Wyman continued to accelerate and Majerus had to let her go, slowly but surely: the gap was 10 seconds after the second lap, 18 during the third lap and 32 seconds in lap four, after mid-race. Behind them, the duo Verhoeven and Muller had joined Vanderbeken in the battle for third place, Denisa Svekova had also moved up to sixth position and Nathalie Lamborelle still had the Top 10 in sight. With two laps to go, Christine Majerus was 38 seconds behind Helen Wyman and suddenly had to worry about Suzanne Verhoeven in her back. The Belgian rider rode very strongly, she had left Vanderbeken and Muller behind her and was moving up, only 15 seconds late on the Luxemburg National Champion now.
Helen Wyman wins the 30th Grand-prix COMAT for women in solo mode, 57 seconds ahead of Christine Majerus and one mintue and 2 seconds ahead of Suzanne Verhoeven. Majerus was thus able to hold of Verhoeven by 5 seconds, but the latter was very happy with her strong finish and the fact that she could climb onto the podium with two of the world's best cyclo-cross riders. One minute and a half behind the winner, Cyriane Muller took fourth place ahead of Joyce Vanderbeken, who probably paid for her fast start in the end. Nathalie Lamborelle sprinted to a nice tenth place against Kim Van de Putte, eventually finishing as second rider from Luxemburg in the race. Despite this great performance, Mieke Deroo defended the leader's jersey in the Skoda Cross Cup with a 14th place. Elodie Kuijper was best young rider in 16th place, while Laetitia Maus (21st) and Trixie Godart (22nd) from Luxemburg also finished the race.
In the junior race, the riders from Luxemburg also showed very good form: Nicolas Kess led the race through the first lap, ahead of Martin Zimerink and the rest of the 30 riders who lined up at the start. In the second lap, there was another home rider at the front: Arthur Kluckers was setting a fierce speed and four rider broke away from the rest of the field: Kess and Kluckers form Luxemburg, Frenchman Ugo Bertrand and Dutch rider Zimerink. Nathan Patrois from France was not far behind and then there was a group of four with Jasper Van der Plas, Joachim Van Looveren, Czech rider Jakub Riman and another home rider, Jang Leyder. During lap three, Bertrand accelerated for the first time and was leading the race alone for a moment, before his crash on the barriers led to a regroupement: Zimerink, then Kess and finally Ryan Cortjens, who has moved up throught the ranks after a bad start, came back into the Frenchman's wheel.
They were actually four leading with three laps to go: Ugo Bertrand, Ryan Cortjens, Martin Zimerink and Nicolas Kess were 17 seconds ahead of another group of four with Joachim Van Looveren, Jakub Riman, Nathan Patrois and Jasper Van der Plas. Théo Thomas was chasing alone another ten seconds later while Arthur Kluckers had lost some position, riding in 10th place with 45 seconds deficit on the leaders. Ugo Bertrand was the most impressive at the front of the race, leading the group for most of the time and accelerating on the portions that suited him the most: he managed to get away with Martin Zimerink and the two passed at the bell with about ten seconds advantage on the next chasers, ready to fight for the win.
Ugo Bertrand eventuall was the strongest in this last lap, leaving Zimerink behind to take the victory with 6 seconds avantage on the Dutchman. Ryan Cortjens finished in third position at 12 seconds ahead of Nicolas Kess, who took a great fourth place with less than 20 seconds deficit on the winner. Of course, he increases his advantage in the Skoda Cross Cup this way, since Kluckers finished in 9th position and Jang Leyer in 11th.
The novice category was also decided very late in the race only and they were still four together after one lap of racing: Alexandre Kess, William Lecerf, Tom Paquet and Czech rider Jan Zatloukal had an advantage of 16 seconds on the duo Philippe Reuter and Mats Wenzel as well as 26 secondes on Frenchman Dorian Vaz, who was chasing on his own. With two laps to go, Lecerf and Zatloukal left the others behind and were leading with 12 sconds advantage on Paquet and 32 seconds on Kess at the bell. The victory was to be decided between the two leaders and on the last technical portions Jan Zatloukal left William Lecerf behind him to take the win with 14 seconds advantage. Tom Paquet took third place at one minute and 18 secondes, a few seconds ahead of the best rider from Luxembourg, Alexandre Kess. The best girl in the race, Marie Schreiber ended on a superb 10th place in the common classification with the boys.