Team Sunweb rider Joris Nieuwenhuis capped his cyclocross season with a strong silver medal performance Sunday at the Under-23 World Championships race in Valkenburg. Racing in front of home fans in the Netherlands, the 21-year-old Dutch rider dug deep in a thrilling battle, fighting off podium challengers to finish second behind Belgian Eli Iserbyt.
“I’ve never been so deflated after a race,” said Nieuwenhuis after expending every last ounce of energy to win the silver medal. “It was a really challenging course, but I fought hard. Watching the jersey be handed to someone else was really tough to see. I have to be happy with second after a difficult season, and this was definitely my best race of the whole year.”
Nieuwenhuis, the defending U23 world champion, battled through injuries and worked hard to regain his form late in the season. After missing several World Cup races, he came back to score strong results late in the year and last month defended his U23 title at the Dutch national championships.
Following a podium finish at last week’s World Cup finals, Nieuwenhuis came into Sunday’s world championship race with confidence. Riding his TCX Advanced Pro team bike and wearing the Giant Rev helmet, he was aggressive from the gun, attacking and riding off the front early on a challenging, muddy course in Valkenburg.
“It was a really hard race,” said Team Sunweb coach Herman Snoejink. “And Joris got off to a really good start. He used his initiative and was at the front with the right people. After a crash and problems with his shoes, the difference between the leading rider became too big. Nevertheless it was a really good second place for Joris.”