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Road Racing

Shirin van Anrooij crushes U23 cyclocross world championships in 21st birthday blitz

All the action from the weekend's junior and U23 championships, including a historic one-two for Canada and a huge win for Nys.

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Shirin van Anrooij delivered crushing U23 cyclocross world championship victory in front of a huge Hoogerheide crowd for a perfect 21st birthday ride Sunday.

Van Anrooij –  one of only three winners in the elite 2022-23 World Cup series – bounded back from a poor start, blew Zoe Bäckstedt (Great Britain) from her wheel, and rode solo through the back half of the race.

Bäckstedt scored a standout silver in her first year in the U23s, while Kristyna Zemanová (Czech Republic) bagged bronze.

“It was perfect, I can’t really describe it,” Van Anrooij said. “There was so much pressure, also from myself, to win here. I felt like I could only lose this race and then it all went really well, so I’m just really happy.”

Van Anrooij also dominated the U23 road ranks in 2022 as she rides through a long-running contract with Trek-Segafredo. The Dutchwoman last year won the European road race and TT titles, and the white “young rider” jersey of the Tour de France.

The midday race Sunday came down to a bunch of pre-event favorites from the very start.

Marie Schreiber (Luxembourg) got her typical hot start and led a small bunch through the opening lap. Van Anrooij saw a shocker off the grid but soon plowed through the traffic to join the head of the race.

Once Van Anrooij was on the front of the leading bunch, she immediately started hammering, and only Bäcksedt could hold the wheel. The two detached from the pack in lap two of six as the Brit clung on and hoped for the best.

Van Anrooij eventually dropped Bäcksedt on lap three and powered away to extend her lead with every passing circuit.

Meanwhile, a group of three led by Zemanová chased one minute behind Bäckstedt.

The Brit occasionally looked leggy but did enough to hold her advantage over Zemanová, as Van Anrooij blitzed around a fast, dry course to score the Netherlands its third victory of the championships.

Boulder native Madigan Munro scored a standout 11th for the USA.

And how does a newly crowned U23 ‘cross world champion celebrate her birthday?

“Tonight I’ll go for dinner, then we’ll go and party!” Van Anrooij laughed.

Léo Bisiaux blasts to junior cyclocross world title

Léo Bisiaux barnstormed his way to the junior rainbow jersey Sunday.

The 17-year-old Frenchman surged out of a group of eight in the second of six laps and couldn’t be caught from there as he delivered on his status of top favorite.

Senna Remijn (Netherlands) and Yordi Corsus (Belgium) completed the podium in Hoogerheide.

Bisiaux – who also races on the road with Ag2r-Citroën devo team – won 13 of 18 ‘crosses this season, including the European and French championships, and a handful of junior World Cups.

He also won the UCI’s prestigious series as he dominated the junior winter. Bisiaux now also becomes the first Frenchman to win junior ‘cross worlds since Clément Venturini won in 2011.

“I was the big favorite, but I didn’t feel any stress. Only positive pressure,” said Bisiaux, who turns 18 later this month.

Bisiaux’s victory never looked in doubt once he made his first move.

Dutchman Remijn winched his way to within a few seconds of Bisiaux in lap four but struggled to make the bridge. When Bisiaux lit the afterburners a second time, Remijn suddenly looked cooked after his long, agonizing chase.

Remijn faded fast after Bisiaux made what proved his winning move but was able to keep clear of a small bunch of three Belgians and a Dutchman battling for bronze behind.

Belgian duo Corsus and Wies Nuyens chased hard after Remijn in the final lap but never clawed across to the Dutchman, leaving Corsus to edge the sprint for bronze.

Thibau Nys lives up to the hype with solo victory at U23 cyclocross worlds

Thibau Nys delivered gold for Belgium in the U23s.

Thibau Nys (Belgium) scored a huge solo victory Saturday in Hoogerheide and added a U23 world title to his junior rainbow jersey of 2020.

Nys – son of CX legend Sven, winner of the U23 cyclocross World Cup, and bronze medalist in last year’s U23 worlds – went clear on lap two of seven and never looked back.

The victory sees Nys confirm the huge hype of the fervent Belgian media and backs up a winter that saw him dominate the U23s and make a confident dab into elite ‘cross racing.

“I wanted this so bad. I worked so hard for this, it was the biggest goal of my season,” Nys said at the finish.

“The pressure was huge, but also from myself. It’s a race where you can’t make any mistakes. To pull it off like this it’s amazing – I could only dream of this.”

Fellow Belgian Witse Meeussen tried to chase through the middle laps but never gained ground as the 20-year-old Nys aced the damp but fast course in the Netherlands.

The race for silver came down to a group of three as Dutch favorite Tibor del Grosso challenged Belgian duo Meeusen and Joran Wyseure for silver.

Del Grosso nabbed second over Meeussen in the sprint as Nys joined his father, long-time mechanic, and fans at the barriers.

Canadian twins make history, go one-two in women’s junior cyclocross worlds

Isabella Holmgren won Canada’s first medal of any color at CX worlds.

Canadian twins Isabella and Ava Holmgren took the top steps of the podium Saturday at the junior cyclocross worlds.

The 17-year-old sisters rode clear as Dutch favorite Lauren Molengraaf suffered a flat tire midway through a Hoogerheide race left slick and slippy by early morning rain.

The Holmgrens become the first Canadians to hit the podium at cyclocross worlds in what is a breakout moment for the nation’s cycling scene.

“I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet,” winner Isabella said. “I’m just really excited, and Ava being second makes it even better.”

The junior Canadian champion Isabella got the lead through the back-half of the race while her sister – the elite-level Canadian champion – chased around 15 seconds back.

Once the gaps between the leaders were set, they remained largely locked as the Candian duo rode near-faultless races.

Meanwhile a race for bronze unfurled behind between Célia Gery (France) and Federica Venturelli (Italy), with Gery’s medal only decided by a sprint for the line.

Defending junior champion Zoe Backstedt races the U23 championships Sunday.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.