Wout Van Aert (Belgium) claimed the U23 men’s world cyclo-cross title with a majestic performance in Sunday’s race in Hoogerheide.
The 19-year-old attacked on the opening lap and held the led until the line. He finished 50 seconds clear of Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium), with Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) in third at 1:17.
“I went on the first lap and on every lap the lead grew and grew,” Van Aert said.
“It’s unbelievable and I’m so, so happy. He [van der Poel] was the big favourite and I beat him and that makes it even more beautiful. I finally proved I can do it at a big championship.”
“Yesterday we had three on the podium in the junior race and today it’s two. I think we’re the best team and I’m extremely proud.”
Clear conditions overnight, and the added feature of sand being added to the course, meant that at the start of the U23 race much of the talk centred around how much faster the course might prove to be compared to the previous day.
Van Aert and World Cup winner and Mathieu van der Poel lined up as the favourites having dominating the cross season but it was Toon Aerts (Belgium) who led in the initial stages.
Behind him the Dutch and Belgian teams fought for supremely with Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Stan Godrie (Netherlands), Mike Teunissen (Netherlands) looking to hold off Vanthourenhout (Belgium), Laurens Sweeck (Belgium) and Van Aert.
With Aerts reeled in Wout Van Aert (Belgium) took his chance, dismounting on one of the inclines as others chose to grind up the slopes in their saddles. The move paced off perfectly and the Belgian quickly built up a lead of 19 seconds by the end of the first lap.
It was now up to the Dutch to counter but Teunissen was already struggling and Mathieu van der Poel looked isolated when Vanthourenhout (Belgium) attacked and broke clear.
Wout Van Aert was only getting quicker, putting in a second lap that was even faster than his first and extending his lead to over 30 seconds.
At 42 seconds were a group containing Laurens Sweeck (Belgium), Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Stan Godrie (Netherlands) and Aerts. However when Sweeck attacked and moved into third it looked as though Belgium would pick up their second one-two-three of the championships.
With two laps to go to Vanthourenhout was still holding second place at 37 seconds, with Aerts and Sweeck at 1:12, David van der Poel (Netherlands) in 5th and Mathieu van der Poel dropping down to sixth.
The day went from bad to worse for the home nation when David van der Poel tumbled over his handlers but Mathieu van der Poel, his right leg taped up, began the fight back.
With one lap to go he made contact with Aerts and Sweeck and the battle for bronze was back on. For the first time in the race the Belgians were on the back foot as panic looked to set in and Mathieu van der Poel began to find the form that had carried him to the World Cup title.
Aerts was the first to crack, quickly followed by Sweeck but up ahead the race was won, with Wout Van Aert taking the title.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Belgium)||0:49:35|
|2||Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||0:00:50|
|3||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands)||0:01:17|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Belgium)||0:01:19|
|5||Toon Aerts (Belgium)||0:01:26|
|6||David Van Der Poel (Netherlands)||0:02:09|
|7||David Menut (France)||0:02:24|
|8||Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)||0:02:37|
|9||Gert-Jan Bosman (Netherlands)|
|10||Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium)||0:02:44|
|11||Mike Teunissen (Netherlands)||0:02:55|
|12||Anthony Turgis (France)||0:02:59|
|13||Michael Boros (Czech Republic)||0:03:07|
|14||Logan Owen (United States Of America)||0:03:14|
|15||Martijn Budding (Netherlands)||0:03:24|
|16||Stan Godrie (Netherlands)||0:03:32|
|17||Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spain)||0:04:03|
|18||Jonas Pedersen (Denmark)||0:04:06|
|19||Clement Russo (France)||0:04:12|
|20||Fabien Doubey (France)|
|21||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)||0:04:13|
|22||Clément Venturini (France)||0:04:16|
|23||Jakub Skala (Czech Republic)||0:04:18|
|24||Curtis White (United States Of America)||0:04:20|
|25||Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)||0:04:22|
|26||Jens Adams (Belgium)||0:04:39|
|27||Matej Lasak (Czech Republic)||0:05:06|
|28||Yannick Eckmann (United States Of America)||0:05:14|
|29||Severin Saegesser (Switzerland)||0:05:20|
|30||Cody Kaiser (United States Of America)||0:05:38|
|31||Steven James (Great Britain)||0:05:54|
|32||Nicolas Samparisi (Italy)||0:05:57|
|33||Lukas Müller (Switzerland)||0:06:26|
|34||Tobin Ortenblad (United States Of America)||0:06:30|
|35||Vojtech Nipl (Czech Republic)||0:06:34|
|36||Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)||0:06:40|
|37||Dylan Page (Switzerland)||0:06:46|
|38||Lars Forster (Switzerland)||0:06:54|
|39||Felix Drumm (Germany)||0:07:16|
|40||Michael Van Den Ham (Canada)||0:07:28|
|41 (-1 lap)||Ben Sumner (Great Britain)|
|42||Yannick Gruner (Germany)|
|43||Luc Turchi (Luxembourg)|
|44||Lukas Meiler (Germany)|
|45||Adam Martin (Great Britain)|
|46||Toki Sawada (Japan)|
|47||Max Lindenau (Germany)|
|48||Martin Eriksson (Sweden)|
|49||Kota Yokoyama (Japan)|
|50 (-2 laps)||Bartosz Mikler (Poland)|
|51||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spain)|
|52||Jack Clarkson (Great Britain)|
|53||Massimo Morabito (Luxembourg)|
|54||Connor Wilson (Canada)|
|55||Simon Vozar (Slovakia)|
|56||Tom Chapman (Australia)|
|57 (-3 laps)||Alexander Meyland (Australia)|