Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) were strongest at the UCI C2 Waaslandcross held in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium on Saturday. The event was held as a warm up ahead of the World Cup Heusden-Zolder, the seventh round of the series held on Boxing Day Tuesday.
It was Van Aert's sixth win of the season, which includes two World Cup wins in Zeven and Namur.
The world champion pulled ahead of his competition in Waaslandcross on the fourth lap and finished solo ahead of Telenet Fidea Lions teammates Toon Aerts and Quinten Hermans. Top rival Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon), who was sick at the World Cup in Namur a week ago, did not start in Sint-Niklass.
"The idea was to save myself a little bit in the beginning with a view to the cross races that are still to come," Van Aert said in an interview with Sport.be. "Halfway, I came up with Quinten and Tim [Merlier] in front. When I came out of the sand, I had a small lead, and after a lap I already had a nice lead and I did not want to make any mistakes."
It was a closer battle in the women's race with Brand taking the win from world champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) by a mere two seconds. Sophie De Boer finished in third 20 seconds back.
It would have been Cant's 100th career victory, according to Sport.be, however she had a slow start while Brand dominated the opening lap to take an early lead.