• Belgian rider Wout Van Aert approaches the finish line to win the men's elite race at the 2016 cyclo-cross World Championships in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium (AAP)Source: AAP
The 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championships concluded on Sunday in Zolder, Belgium, with the under 23 and elite men's categories.
Cycling Central

Cycling Central
1 Feb 2016 - 8:51 AM  UPDATED 1 Feb 2016 - 8:52 AM

The host nation took both titles, much to the delight of the 80,000 spectators, while Australia's four riders all finished within the top-50 in both categories.

Both races are usually a battle between the Cyclo-cross superpowers of Belgium and the Netherlands and that's how it played out in the elite men's race with riders from both nations taking all of the top-8 spots. 

Belgian Wout van Aert finished ahead of Lars van der Haar from the Netherlands followed by another local, Kevin Pauwels. Defending champion Mathieu van der Poel (NED) finished 5th.

What came before the finish was an eventful race that saw Van der Poel tangle with Van Aert, allowing Van der Haar to power away to the lead.

While Van der Poel struggled to regain his rythm, Van Aert supercharged his efforts to join Van der Haar, with the former digging deeper on the final climb to create the winning gap.

Australia had two riders in the elite race, with Chris Jongewaard finishing 36th and Garry Millburn just behind in 38th position.

The Australian goal was to have riders finish on the same lap as the leaders, and all of the under 23 men achieved this, with Christopher Aitken finishing 42nd and Nicholas Smith 45th.

Ahead of the Australian pair the race belonged to Eli Iserbyt of Belgium, with Adam Toupalik (CZE) and Quinten Hermans (BEL) joining the winner on the podium.

The victory for Iserbyt came towards the end of the last lap when he timed his sprint to perfection and easily beat Toupalik.

Elite men
1 Wout van Aert (BEL) 1hr 05min 52sec
2 Lars van der Haar (NED) 0:05
3 Kevin Pauwels (BEL) 0:35
4 Sven Nys (BEL) 0:39
5 Mathieu van der Poel (NED) 0:47
6 David van der Poel (NED) 1:03
7 Laurens Sweeck (BEL) 1:11
8 Tom Meeusen (BEL) 1:23
9 Radomir Simunek (CZE) 1:37
10 Marcel Meisen (GER) 1:43

36 Chris Jongewaard (AUS) 7:00
38 Garry Millburn (AUS) 7:13

Under 23 men
1 Eli Iserbyt (BEL) 51min 18sec
2 Adam Toupalik (CZE) 0:01
3 Quinten Hermans (BEL) 0:05
4 Thijs Aerts (BEL) 0:11
5 Clement Russo (FRA) 0:12
6 Felipe Orts (ESP) 0:15
7 Gioele Bertolini (ITA) 0:15
8 Martijn Budding (NED) 0:24
9 Sieben Wouters (NED) 0:29
10 Daan Soete (BEL) 1:07

42 Christopher Aitken (AUS) 5:29
45 Nicholas Smith (AUS) 5:50

Thalita De Jonge wins Zolder elite world championship
The first day of the 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder, delivered the complete Belgian experience with heavy rain, mud and cold winds pushing riders to their extremes as they battled the elements and their fellow competitors.