Thibau Nys (Baloise Trek Lions), 19, soloed to his first elite Cyclocross World Cup victory in Waterloo, Wisconsin on Sunday.
"It's unbelievable and something I will never forget," Nys said. "Here in the US and at the headquarters of Trek, riding solo to the line, it's one of the best days on my bike. I made a big step this summer, and already [was] so proud to show it last week, but didn't expect to be here like this. I knew I was in good shape, but riding so dominant is incredible."
Nys opened his winning gap on lap five of seven and crossed the finish line with the victory, finishing 16 seconds ahead of Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), denying him a fourth straight victory in Waterloo.
"I had a bit of bad luck, and I'm a bit bummed," Iserbyt said. "At the start of the running section, my shoe was broken, and I tried to fix it, but I lost some time. I had to change shoes. I had a good feeling but was a bit out of my rhythm. I was not strong enough to catch the first guy, and I'm pretty not satisfied."
Nys' Baloise Trek Lions teammate Pim Ronhaar, who won Friday's Trek CX Cup, finished third on the day.
How it unfolded
Defending World Cup series winner Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon) was not on the start line, forced to pull out of the event due to a crash in Belgium last week.
Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), bidding for four in a row, led the field onto the grass, followed by his teammate and European champion Michael Vanthourenhout, and Witse Meeussen (Crelan-Corendon), Anton Ferdinande (Deschacht-Hens-Maes) and Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions).
Thibau Nys (Baloise Trek Lions) joined Iserbyt and teammate Ronhaar following the muddy run-up that forced several riders, including Vanthourenhout, off their bikes to run to the top.
The trio gained time on the rest of the field at the start of the second lap, but on the third lap, Iserbyt was forced to drop back due to a mechanical.
He raced into the pits for the second time within the first three laps, but as he entered the pits, it was clear that he had an issue with his shoe. He changed both his shoe and bike before remounting and exiting the pits to chase Ronhaar and Nys.
Nys opened a slim gap on his teammate during the fourth of seven laps, as Iserbyt trailed by 15 seconds, followed by Vanthourenhout and Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) at 22 seconds back and Meeussen at 30 seconds.
It was on lap five that Nys pushed the gap on Rohnaar out to 13 seconds in pursuit of a solo win with a lap and a half to go.
Nys was also the only rider in the front group who did not need to dismount over the barriers or on the run-ups, which cost other riders more energy on each lap.
As Ronhaar began to fade, Iserbyt surged and then caught and passed the Baloise Trek Lions rider and continued on in pursuit of Nys.
However, Nys started the seventh and final lap with 15 seconds on Iserbyt, while Ronhaar continued to lose time and was 26 seconds back.
A slight bobble on the last lap cost Nys a few seconds, but it was not enough to put his victory in danger, and he crossed the line to take the first elite Cyclocross World Cup win of his career.
Rounding out the top 10 were Nieuwenhuis in fourth, Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) in fifth, Vanthourenhout in sixth, Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) in seventh, Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) in eighth, Meeussen in ninth and Toon Vandebosch (Crelan-Corendon) in tenth.
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