Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) dominated the elite men’s Belgian Cyclo-cross National Championships, living up to his tag as 'favourite' with a dominant start to finish ride on the fast, sandy course in Middelkerke on the Belgian coast.
Van Aert won the sprint from the start line to the short first climb and never looked back. He was soon clear alone and then gained around 20 seconds per lap for much of the race.
After an hour and nine laps of racing he was able to ease up and savour his fifth national title.
Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) emerged from the chasing group to win the silver medal at 1:16 back, with Quinten Hermans (Tormans) taking the bronze medal at 1:27.
Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) had appeared to be a podium contender but a mid-race spill cost him time and he finished seventh at 2:11. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) suffered a bad start, soon lost contact and opted to quit the race.
Van Aert celebrated by holding up five fingers to indicate his five national titles. He is also the current Belgian national road race champion.
"This means a lot. Five is a very nice number. I attach great importance to this jersey and few people have won five titles. Now I can ride in it again for a whole year, on the road and in cyclo-cross," Van Aert said, explaining that his high five and then wave was a gesture from when he went to school.
He kept his race tactics as simple and fun as his winning gesture.
"I tried to take advantage of being the big favourite. I knew that if I gave everything I could, there might be a quick race for second place," he said, shrugging off any disappointment of not winning all 10 of the cyclo-cross races in his winter campaign. His run was disrupted by a mechanical problem in the recent Hulst World Cup race.
"I am certainly not going to complain, but it makes it even more unfortunate that I had bad luck in Hulst. Well, I won the most important race of my winter," he said about Sunday's race.
Van Aert will now travel to the Jumbo-Visma training camp rather than the cyclo-cross World Championships in Fayetteville, in the USA. His cyclo-cross season is done for the year while his road racing season is still under construction.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma||0:58:11|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:16|
|3||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:27|
|4||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:01:34|
|5||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:01:40|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:54|
|7||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:02:11|
|8||Daan Soete (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-Containers Maes||0:03:04|
|9||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-Containers Maes||0:03:16|
|11||Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:03:31|
|12||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:04:36|
|13||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix|
|14||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:04:55|
|15||Arne Vrachten (Bel)||0:05:12|
|16||Seppe Rombouts (Bel)||0:05:33|
|17||Lander Loockx (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes||0:05:43|
|18||Julian Siemons (Bel)||0:05:56|
|19||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:06:20|
|20||Mathijs Wuyts (Bel)|
|21||Jens Gys (Bel)|
|22||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)|
|23||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|24||Kenny Roelandt (Bel)|
|25||Nick Peers (Bel)|
|26||Thomas Verheyen (Bel)|
|27||Grégory Careme (Bel)|
|28||Senne de Meyer (Bel)|
|29||Jonas Degroote (Bel)|
|30||Siebe Tormans (Bel)|
|31||Yelle Leaerts (Bel)|
|32||Julien Kaise (Bel)|
|33||Maarten Van Staeyen (Bel)|
|34||Tim de Schuyter (Bel)|
|35||Maxime Van Wynsberghe (Bel)|
|36||Andy Ruts (Bel)|
|37||Niels Koyen (Bel)|
|38||Pieter Meelberghs (Bel)|
|39||Lenn Verdijck (Bel)|
|40||Jochem Danckaers (Bel)|
|DNF||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)|
|DNF||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes|
|DNF||Glenn Verbeeck (Bel)|
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