UCI Cyclocross World Cup: Pim Ronhaar and Lucinda Brand triumph in Dublin races

Irish champion Dean Harvey falls short of top-10 finish in under-23 race due to last-lap puncture

Dutch riders Pim Ronhaar and Lucinda Brand made the most of a high-power course suiting their attributes to win round five of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Dublin on Sunday.

Racing on a custom-made course on the Sport Ireland campus, Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) was embroiled in a late-race duel with Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Coredon). The latter expended considerable energy to return from a puncture and, as a result, had no answer in the final sprint.

“It was really cool,” Ronhaar said, explaining that racing in front of Irish crowds spurred him on. “I love the atmosphere. It’s so nice to win here. Last year I said I want to come back here and enjoy the people, and to win then is insane. The spectators know the cyclists pretty well, lovely people here.”

Darnell Moore was first home of the Irish riders in 19th place.

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In the elite and under-23 women’s combined event, Brand (also Baloise Trek Lions) stepped up a level on her recent performances to strike out early. She fended off a furious chase by series leader Ceylin Alvarado (Fenix-Deceuninck), who had won her last four races but came up short on a course not ideally suited to her attributes.

Talented Welsh under-23 competitor Zoe Backstedt (Canyon-SRAM) was third, with national champion Maria Larkin best of the home riders in 37th.

Irish men’s champion Dean Harvey had an impressive showing in the men’s under-23 race, starting on the third row of the grid but making up numerous places with a superb effort at the start. He later drifted to 16th place, but put in another fine dig in the second half of the race to head on to the final lap in eighth place, comfortably inside his pre-race goal of a top 10.

Unfortunately a puncture on that lap saw him slip to 11th, finishing 3′12 behind the Dutch victor Tibor del Grosso (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and 17 seconds off that eighth spot.

“It was actually when I changed bikes,” he said. “I went on to a bike that I think must have had a slow puncture. It was only for half a lap, but it just put me out of my rhythm. I was in that battle for eighth, and went from the front of that to the back of it.”

He was disappointed but recognised what was a very strong performance and said that he would draw confidence from it.

Nine other riders were in the Team Ireland jersey on Sunday. Conor Murphy was best out of six Irish entrants in the junior men’s race, finishing 1′45 behind Stefano Viezzi (Italy).

Aliyah Rafferty was 20th in the junior women’s event, 4′06 off the wining pace of Célia Gery (France).

Race organisers Flanders Classics expressed satisfaction with what was the second-ever running of a World Cup in Ireland, even if attendance numbers were lower than last year. This was most likely due to the absence of the top names such as Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos-Grenadiers), who were first and third in the elite men’s race last time around.

They are taking a break after a busy road racing season, as is world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck).

Cyclocross World Cup round 5, Sport Ireland Campus, Dublin:

Elite men: 1. Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) 57′17; 2. L Sweeck (Crelan - Coredon) at 2″; 3. E Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) at 20″

Irish: 19, D Moore at 5′52; l20, C Dawson, at 7′11; 22, K McCambridge, at 9′21; 23, P O’Reilly; 24, R Barry; 25, R O’Flynn; 26, M Flavin

Elite and under-23 women: 1. Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) 54′59; 2. C del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) at 38″; 3. Z Bäckstedt (Canyon-SRAM) at 45″

Irish: 37. M Larkin; 40. C May; 41. R Lally; 42, D Harkness; 43. D Killeen; 44. S Roche

Under-23 men: 1. Tibor Del Grosso (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 55′57; 2. E Verstrynge (Crelan-Corendon) at 13″; 3. J Michels (Alpecin-Deceuninck) at 33″

Irish: 11. D Harvey, at 3′12; 19. J Meehan, at 6′04; 22. T Killeen

Junior men: 1. Stefano Viezzi (Italy) 41′39; 2. A Van den Boer (Belgium) at 8″; 3. K Solen (Netherlands)

Irish: 18. C Murphy, at 1′45; 23. J Mullen, at 2′46; 29, D Gaffney, at 4′04; 36, C Tutty, at 6′41; 37. C Henry, at 6′53; 38, M Collins, at 7′43

Junior women: 1. Célia Gery (France) 39′11; 2. C Ferguson (Great Britain) at 25″; 3. I Wolff (Great Britain) at 47″; 4. A Muller, at 1′03; 5, V Lopez, at 1′30

Irish: 20. A Rafferty, at 4′06; 21. G Lawless, at 4′12; 26, A Doherty, at 6′51

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