Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team) accomplished a career goal of winning both the BPost Bank Trofee’s Koppenbergcross and the UCI World Cup in Koksijde — all in the start of his first year racing as a pro. The young Belgian rider, 20, is pleased to add his name to the short list of riders that have won these two prestigious cyclo-cross races in Belgium.
"These are two big races in Belgium to win and when you choose the races that you want to win for the season, I think Koksijde and the Koppenbergcross are ones that every rider wants on their resume. I have them now, in my first year as a pro.”
Van Aert joins a list of other accomplished riders to have won both races in their careers that include current Belgian champion Sven Nys, who has also won both in the same season, Richard Groenendaal from the Netherlands, and Mario De Clercq from Belgium.
The under-23 world cyclo-cross champion came into his season as a first-year pro and was classed among the main contenders on the circuit. He won the under-23 men’s races at the opening World Cup in Valkenburg, the under-23 European Championships and the Superprestige Gavere, among others. He joined the elite race at the Koppenbergcross where he took a controversial win ahead of Sven Nys after his lapped teammate, Jan Denuwelaere, interfered with the final sprint.
There was nothing controversial about his performance in Koksijde, however, where he soloed for nearly half the race and took a commanding win by 41 seconds ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon) and 53 seconds ahead of Mathieu van der Poel (Giant-Shimano).
"I managed to go off the front alone and it was incredible to be in front on the last lap with the crowds going crazy. I am so happy,” Van Aert said.
He dedicated his victory in Koksijde to his team director Niels Albert, who won the race last year and on the same course at the World Championships in 2012. Albert retired from a successful career this year due to cardiac arrhythmia problems.
“This is also special because this is a really special race for my team leader Niels Albert," Van Aert said. "He took the rainbow jersey here and before the race he asked me to do something special. This victory is for him.”