In a mud-drenched battle at the Dublin Cyclocross World Cup, Pim Ronhaar emerged victorious, marking an intense finale in a three-way clash with Laurens Sweeck and Eli Iserbyt. Ronhaar’s triumph came after a nail-biting dual sprint against Sweeck, while Iserbyt, who remained in contention until the final lap, secured third place.
The race got underway, missing key riders like Lars van der Haar and Joris Nieuwenhuis. Niels Vandeputte initially led, but Iserbyt soon took charge. Despite his efforts, a group of fourteen riders remained closely knit.
In the second lap, Thibau Nys pushed hard and managed to create a gap in the third round, compelling Iserbyt to pursue, bringing along Ronhaar, Sweeck, Jens Adams, and Joran Wyseure. Michael Vanthourenhout, still recovering from a fall in Kortrijk, fell back after twenty minutes of intense racing.
The trio of Wyseure, Adams, and Nys momentarily broke away, but Nys quickly bridged the gap. Ronhaar then launched a critical acceleration, answered by Iserbyt and followed by Sweeck, creating a split from the chasers.
With two laps remaining, Ronhaar had a slight lead over Iserbyt and a more substantial one over Sweeck. However, Sweeck managed to catch up after a bike change cost him time. Entering the final lap, Ronhaar’s decisive attack widened the gap, leaving Iserbyt fatigued and falling behind. Sweeck still had the energy to challenge Ronhaar, heightening the suspense.
In the closing stages, Sweeck caught up with Ronhaar, setting up a dramatic dual sprint. Ronhaar, replicating his previous World Cup victory in Dendermonde, snatched the win with a surprise attack.
Reflecting on the race, Ronhaar admitted he didn’t expect to outpace Sweeck, especially after Sweeck passed him in the final lap. Ronhaar’s victory in Dublin, following his earlier win in Dendermonde and a challenging race in Troyes due to back issues, was unexpected yet gratifying for the 22-year-old Dutch rider.
Iserbyt, weary from his victory in Kortrijk and subsequent travel to Ireland, acknowledged his exhaustion. He felt depleted in the final lap, especially after struggling in the sandpit. Iserbyt was relieved at the race’s conclusion, acknowledging that the challenging course didn’t play to his strengths.
Sweeck, narrowly missing the win, rued a puncture in the penultimate lap that cost him a potential victory. He struggled to recover after bridging the gap to Ronhaar. In the final sprint, his efforts fell short, leaving him second. Despite this, Sweeck expressed satisfaction with his performance and hoped to maintain this form in future races.
Iserbyt retains his lead in the World Cup standings with 147 points, 19 ahead of Ronhaar.
2023 Dublin World Cup Men result
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Main photo credit: Cor Vos