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Van Aert makes it two in a row, winning Ethias Cross in Essen

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Belgian Wout Van Aert celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the mens elite race of the 56th edition of the Robotland Cyclocross Essen in the Ethias Cross cyclocross competition Saturday 11 December 2021 in Essen BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOMBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) wins the Ethias Cross Essen (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Belgian Wout Van Aert celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the mens elite race of the 56th edition of the Robotland Cyclocross Essen in the Ethias Cross cyclocross competition Saturday 11 December 2021 in Essen BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOMBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) wins the Ethias Cross Essen (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Belgian Thijs Aerts pictured in action during the mens elite race of the 56th edition of the Robotland Cyclocross Essen in the Ethias Cross cyclocross competition Saturday 11 December 2021 in Essen BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOMBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Thijs Aerts (Baloise Trek) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Dutch Pim Ronhaar pictured in action during the mens elite race of the 56th edition of the Robotland Cyclocross Essen in the Ethias Cross cyclocross competition Saturday 11 December 2021 in Essen BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOMBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Belgian Wout Van Aert pictured in action during the mens elite race of the 56th edition of the Robotland Cyclocross Essen in the Ethias Cross cyclocross competition Saturday 11 December 2021 in Essen BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOMBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) stormed away from the rest of the field at the Ethias Cross Robotland in Essen, taking his second win of the season after winning his debut at the Superprestige in Boom last week.

Van Aert was a level above the rest in the C2-ranked race, powering away on the second lap and then splashing his way through the mud to victory over Baloise Trek riders Thijs Aerts and Pim Ronhaar.

"Just because I was the big favorite here, doesn't mean it was easy," Van Aert said.

“Of course I am very satisfied, but it was really heavy. I had to stay focused all the time. Mission accomplished, but it wasn't as easy as it seems. I like to run, but in the deep mud that was something else. The meadow was completely flooded. I hoped beforehand that I could save myself for tomorrow, but during the reconnaissance I realized that that was not possible.”

“It won't be in my favour tomorrow, but at least they can't take this victory away from me. The focus is now fully on Val di Sole."

With most of the European riders either on break or en route to the World Cup in Val di Sole, the lesser-known riders had a chance to shine in Essen behind Van Aert.

Thomas Mein (Tormans CX Team) took the holeshot but Van Aert was a close second heading up the steep ramp on the opening lap. A stack-up midway on the ramp through bunch made the first split in the field, but soon the heavy, muddy course would exact its toll as riders were forced off the bike to run through the muck. 

Van Aert came to the front but wasn't able to open a gap until the second lap, when he emerged off the front with Pim Ronhaar (Baloise-Trek).

Van Aert had a slip in a turn, allowing Seppe Rombouts (LVIV) to have a brief spell at the front of the race but by the end of lap two, Van Aert had a narrow lead on Ronhaar, while Rombouts was already nine seconds down after several mistakes.

On the third lap, Van Aert literally ran away from the rest of the field, and Ronhaar was 20 seconds down with Lennert Belmans (Alpecin-Fenix Devo) in third.

Belmans, Ronhaar and Lander Loockx (Deschacht Group Hens) were caught by Thijs Aerts (Baloise Trek) on the next lap, then the brother of Toon Aerts found his rhythm and left the rest behind and set off in pursuit of the Belgian champion.

Van Aert continued to put on a masterclass in the mud as the rest of the field flailed behind, lapping riders with more than two laps to go and holding 1:27 at the bell on Aerts, while Ronhaar left his rivals behind and was chasing at 1:53 in third.

Not much changed on the last lap, with Van Aert waving to the fans before celebrating with a fist-punch at the line.

Soon after the finish, Van Aert dashed to the Charleroi airport south of Brussels for a flight to Bergamo near Milan. He then faced a three-hour drive into the Alps so he can be on the start line of the Val di Sole World Cup snow race in northern Italy on Sunday. 

There he faces some stiffer competition from Britain’s Tom Pidcock and World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:57:21
2Thijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:01:47
3Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions 0:02:07
4Lander Loockx (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes 0:02:19
5Lennert Belmans (Bel) IKO - Crelan 0:02:25
6Thomas Verheyen (Bel) 0:03:52
7Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team 0:04:07
8Seppe Rombouts (Bel) 0:04:13
9Toby Barnes (GBr) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen 0:04:25
10Jens Gys (Bel) 0:04:36
11Yorben Lauryssen (Bel) 0:05:15
12Arne Vrachten (Bel) 0:05:31
13Klaas Groenen (Ned) 0:05:49
14Julian Siemons (Bel) 0:05:58
15Siebe Tormans (Bel) 0:06:08
16Joost Brinkman (Ned) 0:06:21
17Arne Baers (Bel) 0:06:54
18Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT
19Pascal Tömke (Ger) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen 0:07:03
20Danny Van Lierop (Ned) 0:07:04
21Ward Huybs (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:07:31
22Jonas Degroote (Bel) 0:07:47
23Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)
24Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)
25Senne De Meyer (Bel)
26Rune Ceusters (Bel)
27Lucas Janssen (Ned)
28Yelle Leaerts (Bel)
29Robin Alderweireld (Bel)
30Cameron Jette (Can)
31Toon Sluydts (Bel)
32Senne D´Hollander (Bel)
33Jordi Van Heijst (Ned)
34Remon Delnoije (Ned)
35Maarten Clauwaert (Bel)
36Senna Van Cutsem (Bel)
37Pieter Pauwels (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal
38Lukas Herrmann (Ger) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen
39Dylan Strik (Ned)
40Yarne-Zias Geenen (Bel)
41Gauthier Heymes (Fra)
42Kjell Cooman (Bel)
DNFGianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix
DNFLen Dejonghe (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes
DNFVictor Van De Putte (Bel)
DNFMathis Avondts (Bel) IKO - Crelan
DNFFloris Van Tricht (Bel)
DNFGlenn Verbeeck (Bel)
DNFNick Peers (Bel)
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