Superprestige cross Merksplas was great, with Lars ‘Diesel’ van der Haar finally getting a good start the tactical game was the best we have seen this season. Telenet Baloise Lions (Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar) versus Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal (Eli Iserbyt, Laurens Sweeck and Michael Vanthourenhout). The PSB Trident came out on top once again with all 3 on the podium.
This time it was finally time for Michael Vanthourenhout to get onto the highest step after countless of races being the ultimate teamplayer. The dynamics are interesting with 3 riders who are within the 5 best at the moment.
Eli Iserbyt, the Biggest Fish
Iserbyt is the youngest pointy end of this Trident but he plays the most important role. Big talent that can play an essential role on every course. If someone would draw the perfect body for a cyclocrosser you might mistake it for Eli Iserbyt. 1.65m, 56kg. He is the best at fast courses that require explosivity, he isn’t the best in really hard races with a lot of mud and walking. That he is relatively better in the easier races might have to do with his age (23). Past races he hasn’t won himself but by keeping the pressure on Aerts, who doesn’t want to come into a 2v1 situation, he has put especially Sweeck into a winning position. Which wouldn’t be possible if they were racing as individuals.
Michael Vanthourenhout, The MV(Team-)P
Vanthourenhout is always willing to help a teammate out by doing a big turn on an asphalt section or keeping the pace high elsewhere. Sometimes a bit too willing I ‘d say. It isn’t the best for his personal results but he is the glue in the team making the headliner of this article possible.
Techically Vanthourenhout is the best out there, jumps basically every barrier, only van der Poel, Meeusen and sometimes Aerts can get over that obstacle as fast as he does. Rides the sand with the best but most importantly; lack of mistakes. Putting a foot down on a slippery section is not gonna cost you the race but if it happens 3, 4, 5 or 6 times a lap it counts. Having to bridge a few meters back to the rear wheel of your opponent every time. That is where Vanthourenhout gets his biggest advantage, technically only van der Poel can match this man.
Laurens Sweeck, Mister Inconsistent
Calling the most talented Sweeck brother inconsistent is probably a bit unfair, he is always with the best but he really needs a course that suits him to make a difference. Sweeck loves the sand, rumours say he is bikepacking through the Sahara the 9 months he isn’t racing. Oké, not that extreme but Sweeck has proven he can ride in the loose sand really well. Like Vanthourenhout if he is on his day he doesn’t make much small mistakes. He does walk over the barriers sometimes so that’s a weak point. Overall he is good but needs specific courses to go for the win.
This Trident got a lot covered and they are making life tough for especially Toon Aerts. I am curious what will happen when we will see Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert back in actions. Will they be able to crack these 3 unlike Aerts? I think the top will be wider, 6 riders should be able to contest for the win while its 4 now but I think the team tactics will still give the red boys an advantage. What do you think?