The fifth round of this season’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup took place on the hilly and extremely muddy course at Namur on 18th December.
The men’s elite race was won by Mathieu van der Poel, giving him seven World Cup victories from his last seven starts, beginning with the Namur event of 2015.
However, due to injury, he missed the first two races of this season, both of which were won by reigning UCI World Champion Wout van Aert. Finishing runner-up to van der Poel in the three subsequent races meant van Aert remained at the top of the overall standings by a comfortable margin.
Despite looking strong in Namur, van Aert sometimes struggled to find the right line and suffered multiple crashes, including one bad enough to force a bike change. Despite this, he was the only rider seriously to challenge van der Poel on a thrilling final lap, only being decisively dropped on the last steep climb.
The elite women’s race also featured an exciting finish. Czech-American Katerina Nash held a comfortably lead before opting to switch bikes and being caught by overall World Cup leader Sophie de Boer. The unfortunate de Boer then suffered a flat – and as Nash powered away to a fifth World Cup victory de Boer was caught and beaten into third by a fast-finishing Eva Lechner. The UK’s Nikki Brammeier continued her impressive comeback from a horrifying crash at the European championships with a strong eighth-place finish.
Photographer Dan Monaghan was in Namur for Conquista. Take a look at a spectacular gallery of his images below.