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Wout van Aert turns attention to cyclo-cross Worlds after fourth national title

Belgian Wout Van Aert pictured in action during the mens elite race of the Belgian national championships cyclocross Sunday 10 January 2021 in Meulebeke BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Van Aert racing to victory at the Belgian Championships on Sunday (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert may have won his fourth Belgian cyclo-cross title at the weekend, but the Jumbo-Visma rider is already turning his attention to the World Championships in Oostende at the end of the month and his 2021 road season, all after his partner Sarah gave birth to a baby boy just a week ago. 

The 26-year-old won in Meulebeke on Sunday, riding solo for the majority of the race and winning the race by 20 seconds ahead of Baloise Trek Lions' Toon Aerts. He admitted he had little sleep and serious training but becoming a father appeared to give him extra motivation.  

On Monday he went for his first training ride in the Belgian national champion's colours, covering 66km on a ride he titled "Fresh kit day" on Strava. 

Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) are favourites to battle it out for a fourth world title on January 31, but the Belgian is refusing to solely focus on his long-time rival with the Dutchman.

"Of course, I'm already working on [the Worlds] – the course suits my possibilities perfectly, and for myself as a cyclo-cross rider I can finally reach my level again," Van Aert said according to Het Nieuwsblad.

"I don't see the World Championships as a battle between myself and Mathieu. That would be a bad approach. But to become world champion I know I have to deal with him. I'm going to use the next two weeks to take another step forward in my condition."

Van Aert also set out his schedule for the coming weeks in the lead-up to the Worlds, including a week at home with his wife and new-born son Georges, three cyclocross races, plus a Jumbo-Visma training camp.

"First, I'll be at home for a week, then next Saturday I'll be riding in Mol [Zilvermeercross] in my tricolour and in the sand," he said.

"After the race I'm going to Spain for a week on team training camp. Training, photo shoots – the usual things, but a camp I really shouldn't miss.

"Then, on Friday, I will return for the weekend's racing in Hamme [X2O Trofee] and Overijse [UCI World Cup]. Then the focus will be on the World Championships."

Van Aert called his week "perfect and unique" – the Belgian Championships win coming six days after his son's birth. 

He said that the win was a special one, even if it was largely expected from one of the top riders in the mud.

"Becoming a champion is always an emotional matter," he said. 

"Everyone expected it, but it never goes without saying. The arrival of Georges seemingly gave me enough energy to go for it. His birth also made me go to the race in a very special way. I've trained less than the weeks before, and it's been a bit more hectic, too. That makes this win extra beautiful."