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Van Aert wins Dendermonde Cyclo-cross World Cup

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Belgian Wout Van Aert celebrates as he wins the men elite race of the World Cup cyclocross in Dendermonde third stage out of five of the UCI World Cup competition in Dendermonde Sunday 27 December 2020BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Wout van Aert takes the win in Dendermonde (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Fenix Mud during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert leads Mathieu van der Poel on the second lap (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Mud during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert went solo on lap 3 and never looked back (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Fenix Bike change Soigneur Mud during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel in the pits (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Toon Aerts of Belgium and Team Telenet Baloise Lions Circuit flooded due to the heavy rain caused by Storm Bella The organizers has been forced to modify the circuit due to the many damaged and flooded circuit areas during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise) finished third (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Fenix Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Mud during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert leads Mathieu van der Poel (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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DENDERMONDE BELGIUM DECEMBER 27 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Mud during the 1st Dendermonde World Cup 2020 Men Elite dendermonde CXWorldCup UCICyclocrossWC Cyclocross on December 27 2020 in Dendermonde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Wout van Aert dominated a mud-fest in Dendermonde (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) claimed his first UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup victory since Pontchâteau in 2019, dominating in the sloppy ankle-deep mud in Dendermonde. 

World champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) finished a distant second with Toon Aerts (Telenet-Baloise) in third.

Winter storm Bella had lashed Europe with heavy rain and high winds, forcing organisers to remove the flyover bridge from the course and, after the women sank knee-deep into a mud bog, further modified the course to remove the worst section.

There was still ample muck, cold rain and misery ahead for the riders over the hour-long race, however, with riders crashing through icy cold mud puddles and being forced to run more of the course than usual.

"It was really difficult cross," Van Aert said after winning by almost three minutes. "It didn't make much sense to use tactics, just keep up the pace. Apparently mine was much higher than the rest."

The gaps were the biggest of the season on such a heavy course, and Van Aert explained it was due to the uselessness of any race tactics.

"In Zolder we raced very tactically, while here everyone gave everything. That has to do with the course and not that I am so much better than the rest. But this is a confirmation that I am doing well."

Van der Poel took the hole shot but was overtaken in the melee by Quinten Hermans (Tormans). Van Aert moved quickly into third but had to overcome a first-lap clash with Corne van Kessel (Tormans) that lost him several positions.

Van Aert steadily worked his way back through the traffic and onto Van der Poel's wheel before coming to the front on the second lap and pulling his rival clear.

If bad luck cost the Dutchman in Herentals and Van Aert in Zolder, the Dendermonde course was strictly in Van Aert's favour. By the third lap it was clear that Van Aert had the better handle on the challenging course conditions and he began to forge an unassailable gap over Van der Poel.

Behind, the fight for the final podium position changed constantly, with Tom Pidcock (Trinity) losing ground after riding with the front group on the opening lap and eventually dropping out.

Aerts worked his way up through the chasers to move into third on the fourth lap.

By lap six, World Cup leader Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) emerged from the chasing group to challenge Aerts for the podium but couldn't quite get on terms.

Meanwhile, with the race one lap longer than humanly possible, darkness falling in the dismal weather, and only the bright yellow helmets of the Tormans riders visible in the mist, Van Aert had opened up a gap of 2:14 over Van der Poel as the bell rang for another miserable slog around the course.

Aerts, trying desperately to get some feeling back in his fingers, came across 18 seconds behind the world champion with a 16 second lead on Vanthourenhout.

There was no ground to be made up on the last lap, and Van Aert ended the day with 2:49 on Van Aert with Aerts third at 3:06. Vanthourenhout held on for fourth ahead of Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).

The victory earned Van Aert the white and red jersey of overall World Cup leader.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 1:06:10
2Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:49
3Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:03:06
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:03:42
5Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:03:58
6Corne van Kessel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert 0:04:14
7Quinten Hermans (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert 0:04:22
8Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:04:29
9Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:04:49
10Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:05:04
11Ben Turner (GBr) Trinity Racing 0:05:48
12Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:06:04
13Curtis White (USA)
14Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:06:24
15Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:06:32
16Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:06:37
17Michael van den Ham (Can) 0:06:41
18Tim van Dijke (Ned) 0:07:03
19Yan Gras (Fra) AAA Sörius 0:07:18
20Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:07:51
21David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:08:07
22Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:08:22
23Michael Boros (Cze) 0:08:29
24Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Credishop-Fristads 0:08:41
25Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:09:01
26Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport 0:09:20
27Stan Godrie (Ned) 0:09:38
28Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:09:57
29Sascha Weber (Ger) 0:10:04
30Ivan Feijoo Alberte (Spa) Nesta-Skoda Alecar CX Team 0:10:12
31Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes 0:10:17
32Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:10:18
33Timon Ruegg (Swi) 0:10:38
34Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads
35Jofre Cullell Estape (Spa)
36Gilles Mottiez (Swi)
37Mathieu Morichon (Fra)
38Valentin Guillaud (Fra)
39Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team Legendre
40Mario Junquera San Millan (Spa)
41Kyle Agterberg (Ned)
42Mickaël Crispin (Fra) Cross Team Legendre
43Hugo Jot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team
44Loic Bettendorff (Lux)
45Joris Ryf (Swi)
46Lucas Dubau (Fra)
47Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain McLaren
48Joris Delbove (Fra) Team S1neo-Graal-Bjorka
49Mats Wenzel (Lux)
50Maik van der Heijden (Ned)
51Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes
52Felix Stehli (Swi)
53Jonathan Anderson (USA)
54Cedric Pries (Lux)
55Simon Vanicek (Cze)
56David Conroy (Irl)
57Jakub Riman (Cze)
58Jules van Kempen (USA)
59Andrew Giniat (USA)
60Jakub Kurty (Svk)
DNFThomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing
DNFLars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions
DNFJoshua Dubau (Fra)
DNFMarcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFDavid Menut (Fra) Cross Team Legendre
DNFKevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta-Skoda Alecar CX Team

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