After three years of drought Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) finally won the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships again on Sunday afternoon. On the fast, technical course in the picturesque coastal town Bogense, Denmark, the 24-year-old distanced defending champion Wout van Aert (Belgium) just before halfway point.
Amongst huge, noisy crowds in sunny Bogense, Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup winner Toon Aerts (Belgium) finished third, a short distance from Van Aert. It's the second big win of the season for Van der Poel after winning the European championships in November, and comes after he won all but one of the other races he participated in.
"There was a lot of weight coming off my shoulders when crossing that finish line. It was a very long race for me. Finally it comes together again," Van der Poel said in the post-race flash interview.
"I've had an incredible season so far and I was very confident today but still, it's a world championship and it's always hard to win. I'm glad I can wear the jersey again. It's been too long."
Straight from the start in the Bogense old harbour, Van der Poel was present near the front in the field of 58 riders. In stark contrast with most races this season, Van der Poel was unable to blast away within the first few minutes of the race. Van Aert and Aerts exchanged accelerations during the opening laps and Van der Poel was forced into a more defensive role. During the third lap, there were still eight riders together in front with all the big names but also an impressive Felipe Orts Lloret (Spain).
Van der Poel then approached the tricky off-camber climb in the lead. The Dutch champion tackled the obstacle to perfection - as he did in nearly every lap - while Aerts slipped away. Lars van der Haar (Netherlands) briefly rode into second position and allowed Van der Poel to ride away. Aerts and Van Aert showed determination and launched a wild pursuit of Van der Poel.
One lap later, Van Aert closed the gap while Aerts blew up his engine while trying.
"The cross was pretty hard. I rode on the rhino tyres and it was quite difficult to make some speed on this course. I immediately felt that I was good. Wout did a very strong first half of the race. Coming back to me was… I had to be strong mentally. I'm very happy to pull it off today," Van der Poel said.
During the fifth of twelve 2.6km laps the race was decided for good when Van der Poel rode away on the same off-camber section as Van Aert slipped sideways.
"I had given a lot to close the gap back down and I was still on my limit when he rode away," Van Aert told Sporza.
In the second half of the race, Van der Poel mainly had to deal with beer-throwing Belgian fans - according to father Adrie van der Poel - while extending his lead up to half a minute over Van Aert. During the penultimate lap, Aerts managed to bridge back up to Van Aert. The Belgian champion had momentum and gapped the triple word champion in the final lap until he faltered at the final technical passage. First he struggled at the off-camber section and then he slipped away at the bottom of the final descent. Van Aert blasted by and grabbed second place at sixteen seconds from a celebrating Van der Poel.
Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) was best of the rest at fifty seconds from Van der Poel, holding off compatriot Laurens Sweeck (Belgium), Lars van der Haar and Quinten Hermans (Belgium). Marcel Meisen (Germany) was the first non-Benelux rider in eighth place, sprinting faster than Jens Adams (Belgium) and Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium). Orts was unable to conclude a very strong race with a top-10 result, finishing twelfth at two minutes from Van der Poel.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands)||1:09:20|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Belgium)||0:00:16|
|3||Toon Aerts (Belgium)||0:00:25|
|4||Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||0:00:50|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Belgium)||0:01:01|
|6||Lars Van Der Haar (Netherlands)||0:01:10|
|7||Quinten Hermans (Belgium)||0:01:24|
|8||Marcel Meisen (Germany)||0:01:29|
|9||Jens Adams (Belgium)||0:01:31|
|10||Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium)||0:01:33|
|11||Tim Merlier (Belgium)||0:01:46|
|12||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spain)||0:01:59|
|13||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands)||0:02:18|
|14||Michael Boroš (Czech Republic)||0:02:25|
|15||Sieben Wouters (Netherlands)||0:02:27|
|16||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)||0:02:31|
|17||Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands)||0:03:09|
|18||Stan Godrie (Netherlands)||0:03:11|
|19||Fabien Canal (France)||0:03:12|
|20||David Van Der Poel (Netherlands)||0:03:13|
|21||Curtis White (United States Of America)||0:03:17|
|22||Simon Zahner (Switzerland)||0:03:22|
|23||David Menut (France)||0:03:28|
|24||Sascha Weber (Germany)||0:03:30|
|25||Steve Chainel (France)||0:03:33|
|26||Francis Mourey (France)||0:03:42|
|27||Ismael Esteban Aguero (Spain)||0:03:51|
|28||Matthieu Boulo (France)||0:04:23|
|29||Timon Rüegg (Switzerland)||0:04:48|
|30||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibañez (Spain)|
|31||Kerry Werner (United States Of America)|
|32||Stephen Hyde (United States Of America)|
|33||Manuel Müller (Germany)|
|34||Joshua Dubau (France)|
|35||Michael Van Den Ham (Canada)|
|36||Severin Sägesser (Switzerland)|
|37||Ian Field (Great Britain)|
|38||Tomáš Paprstka (Czech Republic)|
|39||David Eriksson (Sweden)|
|40||Kenneth Hansen (Denmark)|
|41||Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland)|
|42||Cody Kaiser (United States Of America)|
|43||Anthony Clark (United States Of America)|
|44||Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)|
|45||Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)|
|46||Christopher Aitken (Australia)|
|47||Benjamin Justesen (Denmark)|
|48||Karol Michalski (Poland)|
|49||Henrik Jansson (Sweden)|
|50||Scott Thiltges (Luxembourg)|
|51||Hikaru Kosaka (Japan)|
|52||Vincent Dias Dos Santos (Luxembourg)|
|53||Garry Millburn (Australia)|
|54||Joachim Parbo (Denmark)|
|55||Tommy Moberg Nielsen (Denmark)|
|56||Cameron Jette (Canada)|
|57||Oleksiy Ukhanov (Ukraine)|
|58||Maksym Shepitko (Ukraine)|