Van der Poel wins the first duel with Van Aert


World champion wins Cross World Cup in Namur

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix, in front) has won the Cross World Cup in Namur. | Photo: Cor Vos

20.12.2020  | (rsn) – In a race that couldn’t be beat in terms of tension, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) won the first cross duel of the season against Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma). The world champion beat his eternal opponents from Belgium and the British Tom Pidcock (Trinity) thanks to a brilliant final round at the Cross World Cup in Namur. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) finished fourth on the difficult course on a low run and thus maintained the lead in the overall standings.

Five wins out of six competitions in Namur, that is van der Poel’s record. And like last season, this year’s event was a contender for the race of the year. A little more than a lap before the end, Van Aert caught up with Pidcock with the suffering van der Poel on the rear wheel. “I didn’t drive tactically. I couldn’t get the hole alone, ”said the Dutchman when asked whether he had done a little theater. Shortly afterwards van der Poel made the decisive attack. “I almost fell a couple of times. Everything was at the limit today. I have risked a lot. I didn’t have a moment ”, said the exhausted winner at the finish line after winning the second of his three races of the season so far.

Nevertheless, the young Pidcock was again the man of the day. In the initial phase, the 21-year-old attacked nonstop and pulled away several times at short notice. In the fifth round, Pidcock finally seemed to break away from all competitors. “I didn’t drive a perfect race. But right now I have to drive my own race, that’s best for me. Probably because I always drove alone in front in the Juniors and U23, ”Pidcock explained his offensive driving style.

Although Van der Poel and Van Aert gave everything, they couldn’t make up the gap to the leader for a long time. “That the two had to work together to catch me gives me some comfort. I was hoping they might look at each other. Unfortunately they didn’t ”, the British champions mourned the missed victory. “But the podium is good – and I got together with the two ‘kings of the cross’,” he concluded with satisfaction.

Van Aert is annoyed by his mistake

The narrowly beaten Van Aert, however, was annoyed about the missed win. “I got Mathieu back into the race. I should have known better. On the last lap I came across Mathieu’s quality. He can go way beyond his limit in the final, ”said the 26-year-old. “I valued Mathieu and Tom more than myself. I should have let Mathieu drive the hole to Tom. I’ve worked too much myself, “said the three-time world champion, who at least looked confidently ahead:” I can build on that. I have to believe in myself more! ”

His compatriot Vanthourenhout extended his World Cup lead by finishing fourth. “Fourth place was the best possible result today. I got stuck the whole time ”, said the Flemish whose opponent and team-mate Eli Iserbyt had lost hope with chain problems right after the start. In the overall standings, Vanthourenhout has 62 points, which is seven more points than Van Aert. Van der Poel follows in fifth place with 40 points.

The German champion Marcel Meisen (Alpecin – Fenix) drove the two fastest laps until the last lap, but still only finished 21st. The third World Cup race will take place on December 27th on the new track in Dendermonde.

This is how the race went:

For Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) the race was over after a few meters. Because of chain problems, the European champion from Belgium had to walk to the material post with the bike on his shoulder. Toon Aerts (Telenet – Baloise) and van der Poel also got off to a moderate start. Pidcock, Vanthourenhout and Van Aert, however, pulled away from the rest in the middle of the first of nine laps. On the longest climb, the world champion sprinted to the gap to the top trio, but due to a technical error van der Poel fell back directly.

Pidcock put his rivals under pressure from the top and eventually broke up. On the cobblestone climb, van der Poel jumped back to the leader, but made another technical mistake. The chasing trio seemed to have caught up with Pidcock again. But when all three changed their bikes, the Briton used it to attack.

On the cobblestone ascent of the third lap, van der Poel caught up with Van Aert and Vanthourenhout again to Pidcock. In the fourth lap, the 21-year-old increased the pace once more on an ascent, again nobody could keep up – and this time that seemed to mean the preliminary decision. At the finish line, the gap between the front runner and his three pursuers was eleven seconds, but one lap later the lead over van der Poel, who had run away from his rivals, had shrunk to five seconds. At the beginning of the seventh lap the world champion was also just behind Pidcock and a few seconds ahead of Van Aert and Vanthourenhout. After 45 minutes, Van Aert managed to reconnect with van der Poel after two quick runs.

At the same point on the penultimate lap, Van Aert and van der Poel finally caught up with the British champions. It was immediately the 25-year-old Dutchman who increased the pressure shortly before the bell rang and tore the group apart. Van der Poel expanded his narrow lead in a brilliant finale, second by second. Pidcock seemed to be at the end of his game, Van Aert, on the other hand, looked like he could make up for a maximum of six seconds behind in the last three minutes of the race.

But he couldn’t get closer than three seconds to van der Poel. In the end he had to be content with second place, followed by Pidcock (+0: 11) and Vanthourenhout, who was already more than a minute behind.

The daily ranking:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) +1: 03: 59
2. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) +0: 03
3. Thomas Pidcock (Trinity) +0:11
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauces – Bingoal) +1: 07
5. Quinten Hermans (Tormans) +2: 09
6. Lars van der Haar (Telenet – Baloise) +2: 17
7. Toon Aerts (Telenet – Baloise) +2: 53
8. Daan Soete (Hens – Maes) +2: 57
9. Corné van Kessel (Tormans) +3: 25
10. Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauces – Bingoal) +3: 31

Overall ranking after two of five World Cups:
1. Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauces – Bingoal) 62 Punkte
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) 55
3. Toon Aerts (Telenet – Baloise) 41
4. Lars van der Haar (Telenet – Baloise) 41
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) 40

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