Vincent Baestaens (Spits CX) won a two-up sprint against Andrew Strohmeyer (CXD Trek) to take the C1 win at Rochester Cyclocross on Saturday. Loris Rouiller (Helzomat) finished third on the day.
A strong group emerged after the first lap that included Curtis White (Steve Tilford Foundation), who led the field through the first lap, followed by Rouiller, Michael van den Ham (Giant-Easton), Strohmeyer, Scott Funston (WTB-Pivot), Caleb Swartz (Enve Composites) and Baestaens.
“This is my last year in the U.S., so it is really hard,” Baestaens said, fighting back tears in an emotional post-race interview for GCN cameras. He has made five appearances in Rochester since 2015 and has won each time, adding a seventh victory in the Saturday contest.
He then gathered himself for another interview for USCX, saying “This is my last season that I race as a professional rider, so my last time in the USA. I will do my best for my last season.
“Last weekend I crashed really hard before the race in Roanoke. I’ve been two times to the chiropractor, and to the physical therapist one time this week. Easy riding is no problem, but in every corner I feel pain [in hip].
“It was really explosive. If you saw the race today, in every corner, it’s very hard to stand on the pedals because I hurt. So I need to do my own pace a little bit. Those two guys were really strong. They dropped me a couple of times. Sometimes the win is bigger than the conditions, ot the pain. I’m very, very happy with this one.”
The front group held five seconds over the next as they raced into the second lap. White crashed, which set him back, as Rouiller moved into the lead crossing through the start of the second lap with Funston, Strohmeyer, Baestaens, Swartz and Lance Haidet (L39ion of Los Angeles), who had moved his way back up to the front.
Gaps began to open up in the front group with Strohmeyer, Rouiller, Funstron and Baestaens five seconds in the lead, but Funston fell off the pace on the third lap as the three leaders pushed ahead.
By the halfway point of the race, Strohmeyer, Rouiller, and Baestaens upped the pace and stretched their lead out to 21 seconds on two chasers, White and then Van den Ham.
White surged on the eighth lap, closing the gap to the three leaders to just seven seconds, but he wasn’t able to close it down as the race for the victory heated up ahead.
Strohmeyer hit the stairs on the final lap in the lead of the trio and stayed mounted to ride across, but Baestaens and Rouiller made the pass on foot, Baestaens taking to the front with an explosive run. The Belgian then went full gas and he distanced th US rider on the finish straight to the line, Rouiller dropping away to third.
“For a good part of the race I sat in and made sure I rode clean lines. With three [laps] to go, I tried something, I tried to really push through a couple of sections. I got a gap, but they brought it back,” the young US rider said.
“And then we went to using tactics and it got really interesting. No one wanted to pedal, no one wanted to ride and I think really hard about what I wanted to do. It’s tough racing these guys.”
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