Mathieu van der Poel (Holland) lived up to the high expectations placed on him as he grabbed the world championships title in Koksijde, Belgium, in the Junior Men category. Wout van Aert (Belgium) finished second at 8 seconds and Quentin Jauregui (France) won the sprint for third place to complete the first podium of the cyclo-cross world championships weekend.
After struggling in the sand during the first half of the race Van der Poel surged forward. He left his Belgian rivals behind and stormed to a well-deserved win after a dominant season. An emotional Van der Poel crossed the finish line while shaking his head in disbelief.
The first-year junior won 21 out of 24 races this season going into the world championships but after a good start and early lead he quickly lost ground. Van der Poel dropped back to eighth place while Van Aert stormed forward and enjoyed a lead of 14 seconds after one lap of racing.
“Leading the race solo in the first lap was really special. There were already so many people here which I didn’t expect. I probably overdid it there but I don’t regret it as second place was the best possible result today,” Van Aert said.
Van der Poel thought differently about the awkward situation he was in. “After one lap I thought it wouldn’t be for me. Everybody was passing me. Then I thought about this season and realized that every race I finished in the top-4 and figured I could do it again,” Van der Poel said.
Mathieu is the son of former cycling star Adrie and he was running around the course to support his son. “He shouted to me to keep cool but that was hard because I rode in eighth place,” Van der Poel said and when asked about how it feels to follow in the footsteps of his father sixteen years after his world championships title, he added: “It’s a very nice feeling but he had to wait for it much longer. Hopefully some more will follow soon.”
Halfway the second of six laps things turned around as Daan Soete (Belgium) bridged up to compatriot Van Aert, little later joined by Yorben Van Tichelt (Belgium) and Jauregui. The Belgians didn’t seem to co-operate up front and the pace up dropped. When asked after the race Van Aert didn’t mind that his compatriot chased him down. “You can’t expect them not to chase me down as the race only just started and they didn’t know whether I would be able to hold on to the lead.They had every right to try their luck at that moment of the race,” Van Aert said.
In hindsight Soete didn’t enjoy his brief moment in the lead as he blew up his engine. “I paid the price for those efforts in the following laps. In the last laps I even had cramps which I’ve never had before during a race,” Soete said. A similar sound was heard with Jauregui who regretted joining the leaders that early in the race. “In the second lap I joined the three Belgians and tried to pass them.I paid the price for that and for a couple of laps I lost ground, just when Mathieu attacked,” Jauregui said. The Frechman dropped back to sixth place at 12s from the five leaders, riding together with Silvio Herklotz (Germany).
During the fourth lap Van der Poel stopped making mistakes in the sand and together with Van Aert he moved forward. “The Belgians were really strong. Wout and Daan went best through the sand. They had a lot of power. At one point Wout rode away and I joined him which boosted my moral,” Van der Poel said. On the sections in-between the dunes the big Dutchman then unleashed his devils and suddenly the race seemed decided. Van Aert trailed by seven seconds with two more laps to go and that gap slightly grew up in the penultimate lap. It seemed like Van der Poel headed for the win but in the last lap Van Aert returned to five seconds from the Dutchman.
“In the penultimate lap I thought the podium would be hard because I was running out of gas. Then suddenly I went well through the sand and it boosted my moral. Anyway, coming back on Mathieu would be hard,” Van Aert said.
Behind the top duo Jauregui managed to return to a group with Soete and Quinten Hermans (Belgium) and those three men battled it out for the bronze medal. Twenty-one seconds after winner Van der Poel it was Jauregui who won the sprint ahead of Hermans and Soete.
Three minutes behind the winner Andrew Dillman (USA) captured a good fourteenth place in Koksijde. “I aimed for single digits but I’m happy with my race. After the start I was in the top-15, exactly where I wanted to be. I rode together with Logan Owen (USA) for a long time and we were doing rotations. In the final laps I knew how to get ahead of the group in the final part of the course so I cruised to this result,” Dillman said. Owen finished seventeenth in the same group as Dillman.
In contrast to Dillman and Owen their compatriot Richard Cypress Gorry (USA) was a disappointed man. His race was ruined by an early crash while still riding on the start line pavement. “Somebody touched my handlebars and I hit the deck. My race lasted for 15 seconds maybe. Then I had to ride alone on the course and I probably received most cheers of all. It’s too bad because I had good hopes to do well here,” Gorry told Cyclingnews. The unlucky American was forced to leave the race at the end of his third lap, riding almost four minutes behind the leaders.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands)||0:43:36|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Belgium)||0:00:08|
|3||Quentin Jauregui (France)||0:00:21|
|4||Quinten Hermans (Belgium)|
|5||Daan Soete (Belgium)|
|6||Yorben Van Tichelt (Belgium)||0:00:48|
|7||Silvio Herklotz (Germany)||0:01:00|
|8||Daan Hoeyberghs (Belgium)||0:01:25|
|9||Romain Seigle (France)||0:01:32|
|10||Victor Koretzky (France)||0:02:11|
|11||Anthony Turgis (France)||0:02:23|
|12||Dominic Zumstein (Switzerland)||0:02:24|
|13||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)||0:02:40|
|14||Andrew Dillman (United States Of America)||0:03:08|
|15||Felix Drumm (Germany)||0:03:11|
|16||Tim Ariesen (Netherlands)||0:03:12|
|17||Logan Owen (United States Of America)||0:03:15|
|18||Martijn Budding (Netherlands)||0:03:16|
|19||Toki Sawada (Japan)|
|20||Marco König (Germany)||0:03:30|
|21||Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland)||0:04:05|
|22||Stan Wijkel (Netherlands)||0:04:07|
|23||Dylan Kowalski (France)|
|24||Jan Brezna (Czech Republic)|
|25||Pjotr Van Beek (Netherlands)||0:04:31|
|26||Michal Paluta (Poland)||0:04:43|
|27||Jan Vastl (Czech Republic)||0:04:44|
|28||Karel Pokorny (Czech Republic)||0:04:45|
|29||Emil Linde (Sweden)||0:04:57|
|30||Dominic Grab (Switzerland)||0:05:06|
|31||Koen Weijers (Netherlands)||0:05:34|
|32||Jose Manuel Ribera (Spain)||0:05:37|
|33||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spain)||0:05:43|
|34||Curtis White (United States Of America)||0:05:45|
|35||Piotr Konwa (Poland)||0:05:59|
|36||Nadir Colledani (Italy)|
|37||Dennis Wahlqvist (Sweden)|
|38||Steffen Müller (Germany)||0:06:28|
|39||Joseph Moses (Great Britain)||0:06:35|
|40||Yohan Patry (Canada)||0:06:50|
|41||Kota Yokoyama (Japan)||0:06:52|
|42||Michimasa Nakai (Japan)||0:07:08|
|43||Luca De Nicola (Italy)||0:07:10|
|44||Johannes Siemermann (Germany)||0:07:15|
|45||Patryk Stosz (Poland)|
|46||Simon Vozar (Slovakia)|
|47||Riccardo Redaelli (Italy)|
|48||Tobin Ortenblad (United States Of America)|
|49||Jaime Campo Pernia (Spain)|
|50||Samuel Beaudoin (Canada)|
|51||Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)|
|52||Sven Fritsch (Luxembourg)|
|53||Mateusz Grabis (Poland)|
|54||Francesco Pedante (Italy)|
|55||Richard Cypress Gorry (United States Of America)|
|56||Tobiasz Lis (Poland)|
|57||Zygimantas Baikstys (Lithuania)|