Van Aert back on top in Zolder World Cup

Van der Poel struggles with mechanical issues, Sweeck, Pauwels on podium

Eleven months after capturing the world title in Heusden-Zolder, Belgian Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) returned to the same racing circuit, capturing a tremendous solo victory in the seventh round of the Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and strengthening his massive overall lead.

"It’s really weird," Van Aert said in the flash interview following his win. "Zolder never used to be my favourite course until I turned world champion here. Now I win for the second time in a year. Clearly it does something with a person; it’s something special." 

Van Aert relegated his rivals to a race for second, finishing more than a minute ahead of surprising runner-up Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus). Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) once again finished in third place. Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) didn’t have a perfect start and ran into mechanical problems, eventually ruining his run for third place and finishing 14th.

The race brings an end to the year-long unbeaten streak in the World Cup for Van der Poel. The win for Van Aert made an end to a series of second place behind his arch rival.

“It pleased me a lot to win again and a bit of show at the finish was allowed. Showing off and then claiming it was by accident isn’t my style,” Van Aert said in the flash interview.

When crossing the finish line Van Aert looked back and indicated there was nobody in sight. The move was a jab at Van der Poel. Three days earlier the latter might have hurt Van Aert’s feelings by taking time for a spectacular jump shortly after distancing the world champion late in the Superprestige round in Diegem.

Van Aert opted to try and avoid taking Van der Poel with him into the final lap. When noticing the Dutch rider had a troubled start Van Aert opened up the gas in front, never looking back. He made no mistakes on the slightly muddy course in Zolder.

"If I tactically ride this way it’s usually my best way of racing. The last few race I’ve been beaten in the final lap and I wanted to play my cards earlier. Of course it wasn’t the goal to be alone that early but I saw Mathieu didn’t get away well and I tried to make it as hard as possible for him," Van Aert said.

Van der Poel got boxed in and nearly rode into Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) after an early 180 degrees corner. In the chaos he also hit his foot. It cost him a good position early on and forced him to swap shoes in the third lap.

"I took a good start but got forced into the barriers. I really wasn’t happy with that. With all the pushing going on I wrecked my shoe. Once I swapped my shoe I realized that I had to focus for a podium result," Van der Poel told Sporza. When asked who was responsible, Van der Poel said, "I know who did it and I’ll surely remember."

While Van der Poel was being flipper-balled in the peloton, Van Aert surged away with European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea), who tried to hold his wheel. Laurens Sweeck quickly went in search of the duo but he was never able to close the gap.

"Gianni Vermeersch lost the wheel and the gap was quickly up to 10 seconds," Sweeck told Sporza. "I briefly came closer but Wout had a good section at the back-end of the course where he opened up the gap again."

After the opening lap Van Aert and Aerts were nine seconds ahead of Sweeck, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts-Verona). Kevin Pauwels, David van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and a well started Lars Boom (Astana). Mathieu van der Poel was in a third group at 21 seconds from the two leaders. During the second lap Van Aert dropped Aerts, with Sweeck riding alone in third place.

Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel moved up to fourth place at half a minute from leader Van Aert. At the beginning of the third lap, Van der Poel switched his shoe and that incident threw him out of the top 10. Van Aert didn’t mind. With six laps to go he was a minute ahead of rival Van der Poel. Aerts had a flat tyre, losing his second place to Sweeck.

For Vermeersch, the Christmas races weren’t bringing him much luck. Three days ago in Diegem, he rode for a top five until he broke his derailleur. On Monday, the same mechanical problem happened on a steep off-camber climb. Game over for the Belgian rider.

Halfway through the race, Van Aert was enjoying a very comfortable lead of 45 seconds over Sweeck. Van der Poel gained a lot of positions and popped up in the group that rode for third place at one minute, with Michael Vanthourenhout and Aerts. Pauwels, Meeusen and a fading Boom were ten seconds further back.

In the closing laps, Van Aert kept expanding his lead as he rode flawlessly over the challenging course. Sweeck rode a similar time trial in second place. He profited from the tactical battle for third place that unfolded behind him. The pace in this group often dropped on the long finishing straight, allowing dropped riders to bridge back up.

When hitting the final lap Sweeck trailed Van Aert by just over a minute. Van der Poel, Aerts, Meeusen, Pauwels and Vanthourenhout trailed the leader by nearly two minutes. With a late surge in the final lap Van der Poel was headed for third place but then flatted and sat up.

"It was useless to do the effort. I think third place was mine until I flatted. What was left was too technical and difficult to bother," Van der Poel said. Pauwels was pleased to take over third place from Van der Poel, after holding off Aerts in a close sprint.

"In the end Mathieu was gone but he had a mechanical. I’m often in third place these days but I’m not complaining," Pauwels told Sporza.

In the World Cup standings Van Aert picked up 80 points and extends his lead over Pauwels up to a massive 91 points. Sweeck is ten points further back. The penultimate round of the World Cup will be held on the 15th of January in Fiuggi, Italy.


Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice1:05:22 
2Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus0:01:10 
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:01:41 
4Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions  
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:01:57 
6Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:02:01 
7Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice0:02:03 
8Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice  
9Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:02:21 
10David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:02:25 
11Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team0:02:28 
12Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:02:29 
13Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus0:02:43 
14Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:02:49 
15Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona0:02:56 
16Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:03:00 
17Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:03:08 
18Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com0:03:11 
19Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon0:03:37 
20Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team0:03:42 
21Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team0:03:56 
22Sascha Weber (Ger)0:04:14 
23Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:04:17 
24Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa)0:04:21 
25Simon Zahner (Swi)0:04:32 
26Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice0:04:33 
27Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)0:04:34 
28Steve Chainel (Fra)0:04:45 
29Martin Haring (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica0:04:47 
30Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:04:49 
31Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:05:02 
32Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels0:05:20 
33Luca Braidot (Ita)0:05:22 
34Alois Falenta (Fra)0:05:32 
35Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin0:05:43 
36Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus0:05:47 
37Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:05:55 
38Matthieu Boulo (Fra)0:05:57 
39Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)0:06:05 
40Melvin Rulliere (Fra)0:06:18 
41Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:06:35 
42Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing  
43Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)  
44Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)  
45Yoann Corbihan (Fra)  
46Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles  
47Kenneth Hansen (Den)  
48Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus  
49Anthonin Didier (Fra)  
50Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)  
51Michal Malik (Cze)  
52Daniele Braidot (Ita)  
53Flavien Dassonville (Fra) Hp-Btp Auber 93  
54Gusty Bausch (Lux)  
55Marvin Schmidt (Ger)  
56Martin Eriksson (Swe)  
57Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau  
58Wolfram Kurschat (Ger) Koch Engineering / Muesing Racing Team  
59Pit Schlechter (Lux) Leopard Pro Cycling  
60Scott Thiltges (Lux)  
61Pol Weisgerber (Lux)  
62Daniel Ania Gonzalez (Spa)  
63Philipp Butzow (Lux)  
World Cup standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice450 pts
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games359 
3Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus349 
4Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions312 
5Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games306 
6Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions301 
7Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon277 
8Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice239 
9Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions238 
10Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts212 
11Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions206 
12Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games190 
13Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon185 
14Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona181 
15Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions170 
16Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice162 
17Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions160 
18David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon159 
19Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com148 
20Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus145 
21Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice141 
22Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon136 
23Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits133 
24Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon131 
25Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus130 
26Simon Zahner (Swi)129 
27Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team127 
28Steve Chainel (Fra)125 
29Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team125 
30Matthieu Boulo (Fra)106 
31Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions98 
32Martin Haring (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica88 
33Sascha Weber (Ger)84 
34Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus83 
35Severin Sagesser (Swi)82 
36Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)78 
37Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels74 
38Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games73 
39Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles72 
40Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin68 
41Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing63 
42Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa)61 
43Jeremy Martin (Can) Focus CX Team Canada55 
44Tobin Ortenblad (USA) Santa Cruz Factory Racing53 
45Alois Falenta (Fra)53 
46Michael Van Den Ham (Can) Garneau - Easton Cycling52 
47Jan Nesvadba (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin51 
48Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin49 
49Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)48 
50Jeremy Powers (USA) Aspire Racing45 
51Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team40 
52Travis Livermon (USA) Maxxis-Shimano Pro Cyclocross40 
53Lukas Winterberg (Swi)39 
54James Driscoll (USA) Raleigh Clement39 
55Anthony Clark (USA) Squid38 
56Dan Timmerman (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite CX37 
57Kerry Werner (USA) Kona Endurance Team37 
58Francis Mourey (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept37 
59Jonathan Page (USA) Fuji34 
60Jeremy Durrin (USA) Neon Velo Cycling Team32 
61Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport/Yogaglo32 
62Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels30 
63Nicola Rohrbach (Swi)29 
64Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)29 
65Melvin Rulliere (Fra)28 
66Craig Richey (Can) Garneau - Easton Cycling28 
67Luca Braidot (Ita)27 
68Justin Lindine (USA) Apex / NBX / Trek26 
69Daniel Summerhill (USA) Maxxis-Shimano25 
70Niels Wubben (Ned)22 
71Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing18 
72Andrew Dillman (USA) Cyclocross Alliance16 
73Hector Fernando Riveros Paez (Col)16 
74Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar16 
75Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau16 
76Andreas Moser (Swi)16 
77Curtis White (USA)14 
78Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era Real Estate - Circus13 
79Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)12 
80Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)12 
81Benjamin Sonntag (Ger) Team Clif Bar11 
82Enrico Franzoi (Ita)10 
83Ivan Gicquiau (Fra)9 
84Anthonin Didier (Fra)9 
85Kenneth Hansen (Den)9 
86Daniele Braidot (Ita)8 
87Yannick Gruner (Ger)8 
88Michal Malik (Cze)8 
89Yoann Corbihan (Fra)7 
90Matej Lasak (Cze)6 
91Antonin Marecaille (Fra) AVC Aix En Provence6 
92Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF6 
93Aaron Schooler (Can) Focus CX Team Canada6 
94Felix Drumm (Ger)4 
95Michael Wildhaber (Swi)3 
96Vincent Dias Dos Santos (Lux)3 
97Christian Helmig (Lux)3 
98Max Lindenau (Ger)2 
99Marvin Schmidt (Ger)1 
100Gusty Bausch (Lux)1 
101Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)1 


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