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Van der Poel and Cant secure overall World Cup titles

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Sanne Cant is the World Cup leader after Namur

Sanne Cant is the World Cup leader after Namur
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel forges on alone

Mathieu van der Poel forges on alone
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tom Pidcock (Great Britain).

Tom Pidcock (Great Britain).
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tomas Kopecky (Czech Republic) took silver.

Tomas Kopecky (Czech Republic) took silver.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

The Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup series wrapped up in Hoogerheide on Sunday with Sanne Cant and Mathieu van der Poel claiming overall titles in the nine-round series. Van der Poel won with a total of 695 points, while Cant secured her title with 608 points.

Van der Poel had a stellar season, winning the first four rounds in Iowa City and Waterloo, both in the US, and then back in Europe in Koksijde and Bogense. He then lost round five after a decisive mechanical and round six while ill, both to Wout Van Aert, but showed his top form again during the last three rounds, winning Heusden-Zolder, Nommay and Hoogerheide.

Van der Poel told Sport.be that he is prepared and will be a top contender for the world title at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Valkenburg next weekend.

"That is the most important thing this week: staying healthy, not falling on training, quietly preparing for that World Championship," said van der Poel, who won the world title in 2015. "I know that I am the big favorite, but that does not bother me anymore, I already have 26 victories in my pocket. I admit that the World Cup is marked with dots and I would be disappointed at loss, but okay, I still have always a fresh feeling, my training was well over the past few weeks and so I do not have to worry."

It's no surprise that when van der Poel was not on the top step of the podium during the World Cup series, Van Aert was right there to take the win. The two-time elite men's world champion (2016 and 2017) had a slow start to this season and questioned his form, but he built some confidence after winning two rounds of the World Cup in Zeven and Namur. Three runner-up places at Bogense, Nommay and Hoogerheide, along with a third places at Koksijde and Heusden-Zolder helped secure him 585 points.

Only one week away from his world title defense, Van Aert was not concerned about his second place, eight seconds back, to van der Poel in Hoogerheide, blaming that performance on a bad start. "I still had a lot of strength in the end," he told Sport.be. "That was not always the case in other races and I'm happy with that, I'm mostly working on that for the world championships, less with today's race, as I did not expect much from it after my heavy training week. It went better than expected.

"Mathieu is strong, as we have seen for weeks. Since the Christmas season, I have not once had the feeling that I was at the start of a competition and I did not have that top feeling, even in Namur (where he won). I only had power in the end and I have to take that to Worlds."

A surprise to the series' final standings was Toon Aerts in third place. He consistently held top-10 positions during the World Cup with podium places during four rounds: Bogense, Zeven, Namur and Nommay for a total of 493 points.

Cant once again dominated the elite women's races on the World Cup, clinching the overall title during the eighth round in Nommay but making it official in Hoogerheide. She won five rounds in Waterloo, Bogense, Zeven, Heusden-Zolder and Hoogerheide. She also had two third places in Iowa City and Koksijde that padded her point tally, giving her some room for sub-par performances at Namur and Nommay.

Cant is a favourite for the upcoming world championships, where she aims to defend her title. Other notable contenders for the world title include Katie Compton, former champion Pauline Farrand-Prévot, who crashed in Hoogerheide, and seven-time champion Marianna Vos, Katerina Nash, Nikki Brammeier and Helen Wyman, who all placed further down in the World Cup standings.

Not to be discounted at the world championships are World Cup series' podium finishers: American Kaitlin Keough and Italy's Eva Lechner. 

Keough didn't win a round of the series but consistent top-three performances gave her enough points, 501, to secure seconds place overall. She placed second on three occasions at Iowa City, Waterloo and in Nommay, and third in Bogense as her top performances of the season.

Italy's Eva Lechner also had consistent performances, and even though she had no victories in the World Cup series, she earned 476 points for third place.

In the under-23 ranks, Tom Pidcock from Great Britain has enjoyed a successful season winning four of the five rounds he started and placing second in the finale in Hoogerheide. His 240 points were enough secure the World Cup title, beating Belgium's star rider Eli Iserbyt, who earned 220 points. Thijs Aerts finished third with 185 points.

Czech Republic's Tomas Kopecky won the junior men's category with 215 points after winning two of the seven rounds. Dutch pair Pim Ronhaar was second and Mees Hendrikx was third.

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2018 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup Final Standings - Brief Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus695pts
2Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Charles585
3Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions493
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal474
5Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus466
6Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Bingoal437
7Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions428
8Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Charles408
9Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions395
10Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions395

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sanne Cant (Bel) Beobank-Corendon608pts
2Kaitlin Keough (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld501
3Eva Lechner (Ita) Clif Pro Team476
4Nikki Brammeier (GBr) Mudiiita Project401
5Katie Compton (USA) KFC Racing-Trek400
6Katerina Nash (Cze) Clif Pro Team396
7Helen Wyman (GBr) Xypex-Verge Sport393
8Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions375
9Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Crelan-Charles351
10Sophie De Boer (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil337

Under-23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas Pidcock (Gbr)240pts
2Eli Iserbyt (Bel)220
3Thijs Aerts (Bel)185
4Adam Toupalik (Cze)151
5Yannick Peeters (Bel)143
6Sieben Wouters (Ned)141
7Toon Vanderbosch (Bel)140
8Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)138
9Joshua Dubau (Fra)134
10Jakob Doregoni (Ita)108

Junior men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Romas Kopecky (Cze)215pts
2Pim Ronhaar (Ned)200
3Mees Hendrikx (Ned)200
4Loris Rouiller (Sui)175
5Jarno Bellens (Bel)175
6Niels Vandeputte (Bel)161
7Ryan Kamp (Ned)156
8Ryan Cortjens (Bel)140
9Ben Tulett (GBr)115
10Luke Verburg (Ned)105