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Wout Van Aert cruises to fourth Belgian cyclo-cross title

Belgian Wout Van Aert crosses the finish line at the men elite race at the cyclocross cycling event in Tabor Czech Republic the first stage of the World Cup cyclocross competition Sunday 29 November 2020 BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) racing at World Cup in Tabor (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) cruised to his fourth Belgian national cyclo-cross title on Sunday, riding solo for almost six of the nine laps. 

The three-time world champion, who won the Belgian title three times on the bounce between 2016 and 2018, delivered on his heavy favourite status with an assured display in Meulebeke. 

Although it was apparent early on that the battle behind would be for the minor podium places, Van Aert was now allowed to run away with it. Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions), in particular, kept him honest, even reducing the deficit on the final couple of laps as he claimed the silver medal.

Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), who rallied after an early crash, couldn’t cope with Aerts’ late charge and had to settle for bronze.

2020 champion Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) made the early running but faded in the second half of the race, taking fourth at the finish. His teammate Eli Iserbyt, who came into the race with an arm injury, crashed early on and abandoned half-way through the race. 

Van Aert put his right thumb in his mouth and raised his left arm in the air as he crossed the line, in tribute to his newly-born son, Georges. 

"I didn't want to say it before the race, but I slept in the camper for six nights. That is not very comfortable at all," he said. "I would like to dedicate my victory to my son Georges and especially my wife Sarah. Nine months taken care of and this week… thank you Sarah.

"I felt good in the beginning and was able to expand that gap in a good way. From the middle of the cross I was à bloc. After that, it was mainly to keep the lead, which was difficult enough. I had far from the energy I wanted, but I am satisfied with this title."

Van Aert was the big favourite and didn’t take long to assert his dominance. Sweeck made the strongest start, as Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout both hit the deck. The former abandoned, while the latter will wonder what more he might have done had he not suffered that bad luck. Quinten Hermans (Tormans) was another rider who hit the deck a little later, taking him out of the chase group and contributing to a selective opening couple of laps.

It was lap 3 where Van Aert decided to try and make the difference. Having finished the previous lap with Sweeck, he steadily powered away from last year’s winner, prising open a 15-second gap by the end of the lap. Aerts was moving through the gears and was almost with Sweeck, while Vanthourenhout was still scrambling back behind. 

Van Aert barely put a foot wrong from then on, and the drama in the race was more about the battle for second. Aerts dropped Sweeck on lap 4, before the pair came back together on the following lap, and Vanthourenhout joined them. On lap 6, Aerts stormed clear once more, Sweeck fell away, and the pattern was established. With three laps to go, Van Aert had increased his lead to 25 seconds. 

Aerts managed to take a few seconds out of that in the closing laps, but in truth it was going to take a big error or slice of misfortune to deprive Van Aert of the tricolour jersey. 

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) 1:04:12
2Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:00:20
3Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:00:41
4Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:01:12
5Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix 0:01:56
6Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop-Fristads 0:01:59
7Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:02:01
8Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads 0:02:05
9Jim Aernouts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:02:40
10Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens - Maes Containers 0:02:48
11Lander Loockx (Bel) Group Hens - Maes Containers 0:02:57
12Timo Kielich (Bel) Credishop-Fristads 0:03:00
13Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens - Maes Containers 0:03:08
14Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:03:13
15Jens Adams (Bel) 0:03:21
16Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:03:29
17Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:03:37
18Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:03:42
19Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens - Maes Containers 0:04:36
20Arne Vrachten (Bel) 0:05:18
21Lennert Belmans (Bel) Iko - Crelan 0:05:25
22Gianni Siebens (Bel) 0:05:29
23Ward Huybs (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:06:16
24Robin Alderweireld (Bel) 0:06:28
25Witse Meeussen (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:06:38
26Thomas Verheyen (Bel) 0:07:03
27Seppe Rombouts (Bel)
28Wout Vervoort (Bel)
29Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)
30Arno Van Den Broeck (Bel)
31Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini Ct
32Arne Baers (Bel)
33Joachim Van Looveren (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini Ct
34Clement Horny (Bel)
35Julian Siemons (Bel)
36Jens Gys (Bel)
37Elio Clarysse (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini Ct
38Ydris Salomez (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini Ct
39Justin Laevens (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini Ct
40Vincent Oger (Bel)
DNFThibau Nys (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions
DNFJelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal
DNFJoran Wyseure (Bel)
DNFEli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal
DNSArno Debeir (Bel)
DNSThijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions
DNSAndreas Goeman (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions
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