Van Aert back on top in Zolder World Cup

Eleven months after capturing the world title in Heusden-Zolder, Belgian Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) returned to the same racing circuit, capturing a tremendous solo victory in the seventh round of the Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and strengthening his massive overall lead.

"It’s really weird," Van Aert said in the flash interview following his win. "Zolder never used to be my favourite course until I turned world champion here. Now I win for the second time in a year. Clearly it does something with a person; it’s something special." 

Van Aert relegated his rivals to a race for second, finishing more than a minute ahead of surprising runner-up Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus). Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) once again finished in third place. Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) didn’t have a perfect start and ran into mechanical problems, eventually ruining his run for third place and finishing 14th.

The race brings an end to the year-long unbeaten streak in the World Cup for Van der Poel. The win for Van Aert made an end to a series of second place behind his arch rival.

“It pleased me a lot to win again and a bit of show at the finish was allowed. Showing off and then claiming it was by accident isn’t my style,” Van Aert said in the flash interview.

When crossing the finish line Van Aert looked back and indicated there was nobody in sight. The move was a jab at Van der Poel. Three days earlier the latter might have hurt Van Aert’s feelings by taking time for a spectacular jump shortly after distancing the world champion late in the Superprestige round in Diegem.

Van Aert opted to try and avoid taking Van der Poel with him into the final lap. When noticing the Dutch rider had a troubled start Van Aert opened up the gas in front, never looking back. He made no mistakes on the slightly muddy course in Zolder.

"If I tactically ride this way it’s usually my best way of racing. The last few race I’ve been beaten in the final lap and I wanted to play my cards earlier. Of course it wasn’t the goal to be alone that early but I saw Mathieu didn’t get away well and I tried to make it as hard as possible for him," Van Aert said.

Van der Poel got boxed in and nearly rode into Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) after an early 180 degrees corner. In the chaos he also hit his foot. It cost him a good position early on and forced him to swap shoes in the third lap.

"I took a good start but got forced into the barriers. I really wasn’t happy with that. With all the pushing going on I wrecked my shoe. Once I swapped my shoe I realized that I had to focus for a podium result," Van der Poel told Sporza. When asked who was responsible, Van der Poel said, "I know who did it and I’ll surely remember."

While Van der Poel was being flipper-balled in the peloton, Van Aert surged away with European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea), who tried to hold his wheel. Laurens Sweeck quickly went in search of the duo but he was never able to close the gap.

"Gianni Vermeersch lost the wheel and the gap was quickly up to 10 seconds," Sweeck told Sporza. "I briefly came closer but Wout had a good section at the back-end of the course where he opened up the gap again."

After the opening lap Van Aert and Aerts were nine seconds ahead of Sweeck, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts-Verona). Kevin Pauwels, David van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and a well started Lars Boom (Astana). Mathieu van der Poel was in a third group at 21 seconds from the two leaders. During the second lap Van Aert dropped Aerts, with Sweeck riding alone in third place.

Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel moved up to fourth place at half a minute from leader Van Aert. At the beginning of the third lap, Van der Poel switched his shoe and that incident threw him out of the top 10. Van Aert didn’t mind. With six laps to go he was a minute ahead of rival Van der Poel. Aerts had a flat tyre, losing his second place to Sweeck.

For Vermeersch, the Christmas races weren’t bringing him much luck. Three days ago in Diegem, he rode for a top five until he broke his derailleur. On Monday, the same mechanical problem happened on a steep off-camber climb. Game over for the Belgian rider.

Halfway through the race, Van Aert was enjoying a very comfortable lead of 45 seconds over Sweeck. Van der Poel gained a lot of positions and popped up in the group that rode for third place at one minute, with Michael Vanthourenhout and Aerts. Pauwels, Meeusen and a fading Boom were ten seconds further back.

In the closing laps, Van Aert kept expanding his lead as he rode flawlessly over the challenging course. Sweeck rode a similar time trial in second place. He profited from the tactical battle for third place that unfolded behind him. The pace in this group often dropped on the long finishing straight, allowing dropped riders to bridge back up.

When hitting the final lap Sweeck trailed Van Aert by just over a minute. Van der Poel, Aerts, Meeusen, Pauwels and Vanthourenhout trailed the leader by nearly two minutes. With a late surge in the final lap Van der Poel was headed for third place but then flatted and sat up.

"It was useless to do the effort. I think third place was mine until I flatted. What was left was too technical and difficult to bother," Van der Poel said. Pauwels was pleased to take over third place from Van der Poel, after holding off Aerts in a close sprint.

"In the end Mathieu was gone but he had a mechanical. I’m often in third place these days but I’m not complaining," Pauwels told Sporza.

In the World Cup standings Van Aert picked up 80 points and extends his lead over Pauwels up to a massive 91 points. Sweeck is ten points further back. The penultimate round of the World Cup will be held on the 15th of January in Fiuggi, Italy.


Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice1:05:22
2Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus0:01:10
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:01:41
4Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 3 - Cell 2
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:01:57
6Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:02:01
7Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice0:02:03
8Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-VastgoedserviceRow 7 - Cell 2
9Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:02:21
10David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:02:25
11Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team0:02:28
12Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:02:29
13Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus0:02:43
14Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:02:49
15Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona0:02:56
16Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:03:00
17Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:03:08
18Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com0:03:11
19Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon0:03:37
20Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team0:03:42
21Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team0:03:56
22Sascha Weber (Ger)0:04:14
23Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:04:17
24Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa)0:04:21
25Simon Zahner (Swi)0:04:32
26Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice0:04:33
27Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)0:04:34
28Steve Chainel (Fra)0:04:45
29Martin Haring (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica0:04:47
30Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:04:49
31Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:05:02
32Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels0:05:20
33Luca Braidot (Ita)0:05:22
34Alois Falenta (Fra)0:05:32
35Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin0:05:43
36Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus0:05:47
37Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:05:55
38Matthieu Boulo (Fra)0:05:57
39Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)0:06:05
40Melvin Rulliere (Fra)0:06:18
41Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:06:35
42Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox RacingRow 41 - Cell 2
43Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)Row 42 - Cell 2
44Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)Row 43 - Cell 2
45Yoann Corbihan (Fra)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves CyclesRow 45 - Cell 2
47Kenneth Hansen (Den)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-CircusRow 47 - Cell 2
49Anthonin Didier (Fra)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)Row 49 - Cell 2
51Michal Malik (Cze)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Daniele Braidot (Ita)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Flavien Dassonville (Fra) Hp-Btp Auber 93Row 52 - Cell 2
54Gusty Bausch (Lux)Row 53 - Cell 2
55Marvin Schmidt (Ger)Row 54 - Cell 2
56Martin Eriksson (Swe)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X GarneauRow 56 - Cell 2
58Wolfram Kurschat (Ger) Koch Engineering / Muesing Racing TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Pit Schlechter (Lux) Leopard Pro CyclingRow 58 - Cell 2
60Scott Thiltges (Lux)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Pol Weisgerber (Lux)Row 60 - Cell 2
62Daniel Ania Gonzalez (Spa)Row 61 - Cell 2
63Philipp Butzow (Lux)Row 62 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
World Cup standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice450pts
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games359Row 1 - Cell 3
3Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus349Row 2 - Cell 3
4Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions312Row 3 - Cell 3
5Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games306Row 4 - Cell 3
6Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions301Row 5 - Cell 3
7Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon277Row 6 - Cell 3
8Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice239Row 7 - Cell 3
9Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions238Row 8 - Cell 3
10Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts212Row 9 - Cell 3
11Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions206Row 10 - Cell 3
12Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games190Row 11 - Cell 3
13Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon185Row 12 - Cell 3
14Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona181Row 13 - Cell 3
15Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions170Row 14 - Cell 3
16Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice162Row 15 - Cell 3
17Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions160Row 16 - Cell 3
18David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon159Row 17 - Cell 3
19Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com148Row 18 - Cell 3
20Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus145Row 19 - Cell 3
21Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice141Row 20 - Cell 3
22Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon136Row 21 - Cell 3
23Clement Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits133Row 22 - Cell 3
24Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon131Row 23 - Cell 3
25Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus130Row 24 - Cell 3
26Simon Zahner (Swi)129Row 25 - Cell 3
27Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team127Row 26 - Cell 3
28Steve Chainel (Fra)125Row 27 - Cell 3
29Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team125Row 28 - Cell 3
30Matthieu Boulo (Fra)106Row 29 - Cell 3
31Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions98Row 30 - Cell 3
32Martin Haring (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica88Row 31 - Cell 3
33Sascha Weber (Ger)84Row 32 - Cell 3
34Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus83Row 33 - Cell 3
35Severin Sagesser (Swi)82Row 34 - Cell 3
36Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)78Row 35 - Cell 3
37Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels74Row 36 - Cell 3
38Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games73Row 37 - Cell 3
39Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles72Row 38 - Cell 3
40Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin68Row 39 - Cell 3
41Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing63Row 40 - Cell 3
42Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa)61Row 41 - Cell 3
43Jeremy Martin (Can) Focus CX Team Canada55Row 42 - Cell 3
44Tobin Ortenblad (USA) Santa Cruz Factory Racing53Row 43 - Cell 3
45Alois Falenta (Fra)53Row 44 - Cell 3
46Michael Van Den Ham (Can) Garneau - Easton Cycling52Row 45 - Cell 3
47Jan Nesvadba (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin51Row 46 - Cell 3
48Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Expres Cz-Merida Team Kolin49Row 47 - Cell 3
49Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)48Row 48 - Cell 3
50Jeremy Powers (USA) Aspire Racing45Row 49 - Cell 3
51Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team40Row 50 - Cell 3
52Travis Livermon (USA) Maxxis-Shimano Pro Cyclocross40Row 51 - Cell 3
53Lukas Winterberg (Swi)39Row 52 - Cell 3
54James Driscoll (USA) Raleigh Clement39Row 53 - Cell 3
55Anthony Clark (USA) Squid38Row 54 - Cell 3
56Dan Timmerman (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite CX37Row 55 - Cell 3
57Kerry Werner (USA) Kona Endurance Team37Row 56 - Cell 3
58Francis Mourey (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept37Row 57 - Cell 3
59Jonathan Page (USA) Fuji34Row 58 - Cell 3
60Jeremy Durrin (USA) Neon Velo Cycling Team32Row 59 - Cell 3
61Allen Krughoff (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport/Yogaglo32Row 60 - Cell 3
62Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels30Row 61 - Cell 3
63Nicola Rohrbach (Swi)29Row 62 - Cell 3
64Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)29Row 63 - Cell 3
65Melvin Rulliere (Fra)28Row 64 - Cell 3
66Craig Richey (Can) Garneau - Easton Cycling28Row 65 - Cell 3
67Luca Braidot (Ita)27Row 66 - Cell 3
68Justin Lindine (USA) Apex / NBX / Trek26Row 67 - Cell 3
69Daniel Summerhill (USA) Maxxis-Shimano25Row 68 - Cell 3
70Niels Wubben (Ned)22Row 69 - Cell 3
71Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing18Row 70 - Cell 3
72Andrew Dillman (USA) Cyclocross Alliance16Row 71 - Cell 3
73Hector Fernando Riveros Paez (Col)16Row 72 - Cell 3
74Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar16Row 73 - Cell 3
75Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau16Row 74 - Cell 3
76Andreas Moser (Swi)16Row 75 - Cell 3
77Curtis White (USA)14Row 76 - Cell 3
78Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era Real Estate - Circus13Row 77 - Cell 3
79Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)12Row 78 - Cell 3
80Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)12Row 79 - Cell 3
81Benjamin Sonntag (Ger) Team Clif Bar11Row 80 - Cell 3
82Enrico Franzoi (Ita)10Row 81 - Cell 3
83Ivan Gicquiau (Fra)9Row 82 - Cell 3
84Anthonin Didier (Fra)9Row 83 - Cell 3
85Kenneth Hansen (Den)9Row 84 - Cell 3
86Daniele Braidot (Ita)8Row 85 - Cell 3
87Yannick Gruner (Ger)8Row 86 - Cell 3
88Michal Malik (Cze)8Row 87 - Cell 3
89Yoann Corbihan (Fra)7Row 88 - Cell 3
90Matej Lasak (Cze)6Row 89 - Cell 3
91Antonin Marecaille (Fra) AVC Aix En Provence6Row 90 - Cell 3
92Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF6Row 91 - Cell 3
93Aaron Schooler (Can) Focus CX Team Canada6Row 92 - Cell 3
94Felix Drumm (Ger)4Row 93 - Cell 3
95Michael Wildhaber (Swi)3Row 94 - Cell 3
96Vincent Dias Dos Santos (Lux)3Row 95 - Cell 3
97Christian Helmig (Lux)3Row 96 - Cell 3
98Max Lindenau (Ger)2Row 97 - Cell 3
99Marvin Schmidt (Ger)1Row 98 - Cell 3
100Gusty Bausch (Lux)1Row 99 - Cell 3
101Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)1Row 100 - Cell 3


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