Friday, February 2, 2024 at 1:40 PM
The French won the Mixed Relay World Cup in Tábor. In an exciting final sprint, junior Aubin Sparfel defeated the British Cameron Mason. Michael Vanthourenhout drove the Belgians to third place.
Drama at the start for the French, as the shadow favorites immediately saw their promise Remi Lelandais miss his start. Lelandais had to deal with a chain problem and quickly found himself behind by about fifteen seconds.
Top favorite Belgium, on the other hand, started very quickly, thanks to youngster Arthur Van den Boer. But the junior may have started a little too fast, because in the second part of the opening round not only the Polish professional Marek Konwa, but also the Italian promise Filippo Agostinacchio and… Lelandais were still ahead of the Belgian. After one round we had five countries, including the United States, close together. Great Britain, which was the only country to send a woman into the field with Zoe Bäckstedt, was already facing a considerable deficit of three quarters of a minute at that moment.
Early French lead
In round two, almost all top countries showed their male promise. Martin Groslambert made a big impression and allowed France to continue on the momentum of the first round. Although Ward Huybs also did not do badly on behalf of Belgium. Italy sent its junior Stefano Viezzi, who also kept pace. Poland and the United States, on the other hand, saw their gap increase, giving us a clear top three at the front in the cross.
Belgium was not involved – photo: Cor Vos
The third round was one for the young women, because Célia Gery, Cat Ferguson and Shanyl De Schoesitter were allowed to cross at the front. For the first time we had a really big separation at the front. It is not without reason that Gery is the reigning European junior champion. In the tough second part of the circuit, she rode more than half a minute away from Belgium and France, who even saw the United States and the Czech Republic – two countries that clearly made radically different choices in terms of starting order – come over them. Canada also made up a lot of ground thanks to Ava Holmgren. However, halfway through France still had a nice gap on the other favorites.
So round three was good for a strong upheaval, but we got that just as much in the fourth round. That did not go so well for Frenchwoman Lauriane Duraffourg. She made several mistakes and even crashed twice, causing British junior Oscar Amey to fall over her. Extra favorable for the British: besides Belgium, they were the only country that was the last two riders to field its two professional riders. First it was up to Anna Kay, who started her round with a lead of twenty seconds over the French and 25 seconds over the US. Belgium now followed within a minute.
British pros can’t finish it
Kay did not do particularly well, and made several serious mistakes on a technical level. The French Hélène Clauzel saw the gap completely close and even pull away for a few seconds. Sanne Cant also saw her opportunity to nibble on the deficit on behalf of Belgium. France was therefore allowed to go to the final round in pole position, but their young junior Aubin Sparfel had to compete against professionals such as Cameron Mason and Michael Vanthourenhout, who still had to make up eight and 38 seconds respectively on the French.
Great sprint from Aubin Sparfel – photo: Cor Vos
Mason closed the gap, but had his hands full with the very young Sparfel. At the end of the round he had plenty of opportunities to get over the Frenchman, but Mason simply did not have the strength to pass Sparfel. Thanks to a good final turn, he got to the wheel, which meant a sprint for victory in the Mixed Relay had to be decided. Mason came very close, but was unable to get over. Sparfel gave France the world title.
Cyclocross World Championships in Tábor 2024
Result Mixed Team Relay
France in 1h01m23s
Great Britain in s.t
Belgium at 32s
4. Canada at 1m06s
5. Italy at 1m17s
6. Czech Republic at 1m18s
7. United States at 2m06s
8. Slovakia at 3m57s
9. Poland at 5m07s
10. Austria at 7m56s
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