Cyclo-cross World Cup: Van der Poel wins final round at Hoogerheide


Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) won the final round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Hoogerheide. The Dutchman's commanding ride saw him put in the winning attack four laps from the finish to take victory at the race named for his father – the GP Adrie van der Poel – for the fifth time.

One week before defending his title at the World Championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland, the Dutchman soloed to the line ahead of Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions), who finished 38 seconds back. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) rounded out the podium at a deficit of 43 seconds seconds, while Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) finished in eighth on his fifth race back from injury.

Van der Poel said he had to work hard to get his fifth World Cup victory of the season on the dry, fast course that was designed by his father Adrie.

"There was a such a big crowd today and it wasn't an easy race. I felt strong while riding in the group and put all my money on one big move. I think that I found back my 'cross accelerations just in time," Van der Poel told Telenet Play Sports in the post-race flash interview.

For the second year in a row, overall victory in the World Cup was for Aerts; with six second places this season he's the world champion of consistency. A rib-breaking crash in Namur seemed to rule him out of contention but challenger Iserbyt struggled too during the busy Christmas weeks.

Aerts ended up with 577 points accumulated between Iowa City and the Netherlands, while Iserbyt was second on 531 points. Iserbyt's etammate Michael Vanthourenhout on 492 points. Van der Poel, who won all five World Cup races he started this season, finished on 400 points in eighth place.

"I'm very pleased that I can win two years in a row," said Aerts after the race. "It was clear that I wasn't as good as last year at the beginning of the season but then I ended up leading all the series anyway. It all seemed to be gone when I crashed. Riding the cross in Heusden-Zolder with my broken ribs cost a lot of energy and pain but it did deliver in the end."

How it unfolded

During the opening lap, Van der Poel quickly tested the field with a long acceleration on the flat sections in the meadow. The Dutchman took risks and flew through the corners and a chicane at high speed, and only Toon Aerts was able to stay near him, but the duo then decided it was too early to continue their efforts one week ahead of the World Championships.

What followed was a tactical race in which no less than 16 riders featuring in the front group during the fourth lap of the race. After his early acceleration, Van der Poel opted to sit back and bide his time.

"It didn't make sense to fight for position throughout the race," Van der Poel said later.

It was a risk though, because the smallest of incidents threw riders out of the top 20, as Belgian road champion Tim Merlier (Creafin-Fristads) found out when he broke his shoe and had to fight back from 24th. Merlier did show grinta by fighting back and finishing fifth in Hoogerheide.

Aerts and Iserbyt were unable to keep up with Van der Poel when he eventually attacked, but they did gap the rest of the field, apart from Belgian champion Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal). The latter was unable to keep up the high pace and faded back into the second chase group.

The pair tried hard to keep Van der Poel in sight, but quickly found themselves at half a minute from the leader. Speaking later, Iserbyt told of how he was impressed by Van der Poel's ride.

"Mathieu rides away where he wants and how he wants. He's the big favourite," Iserbyt told Telenet Play Sports.

In the final lap, Aerts rode away from Iserbyt by cannily hopping the high barriers, after which Iserbyt struggled to clip into his pedal in the rush to keep up.

"Today I felt good. I was the only rider who was able to follow Mathieu when he attacked during the opening lap," said Aerts. "It wasn't possible to continue that move but I saved energy when the group came back. Hopping over the barriers allowed me to save energy too and in the final lap it allowed me to distance Eli Iserbyt."

The battle for the remaining top ten positions was fought out at high intensity since there was also a battle going on for the third place in the final World Cup classification between Vanthourenhout, Sweeck and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions).

Vanthourenhout successfully defended his overall third place by winning the sprint for fourth place, 49 seconds behind Van der Poel, ahead of Tim Merlier and Van der Haar. Sweeck then no longer pushed on and only managed a ninth place, just behind Thomas Pidcock (Trinity Racing) and Van Aert.


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Race results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 1:04:39
2Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:00:38
3Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:00:43
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:00:49
5Tim Merlier (Bel) Creaefin-Fristads 0:00:50
6Lars Van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions
7Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing 0:00:52
8Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:53
9Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:00:59
10Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Tormans 0:01:05
11Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:01:07
12Jens Adams (Bel) Hollebeekhoeve 0:01:32
13Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans 0:01:42
14Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:56
15David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:14
16Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Creaefin-Fristads 0:02:25
17Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:29
18Sieben Wouters (Ned) Creaefin-Fristads
19Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:02:31
20Steve Chainel (Fra) Chazal-Canyon-3G Immo 0:02:35
21Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-Gsport-BH 0:02:36
22Timon Rüegg (Swi) 0:02:37
23Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld 0:02:42
24Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:02:46
25Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:02:49
26Diether Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:03:00
27Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:03:07
28David Menut (Fra) 0:03:24
29Stan Godrie (Ned) 0:03:35
30Daan Soete (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:03:38
31Maik Van der Heijden (Ned) 0:03:43
32Curtis White (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld 0:04:08
33Michael Boroš (Cze) 0:04:12
34Simon Zahner (Swi) 0:04:18
35Wietse Bosmans (Bel) 0:04:37
36Lander Loockx (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers 0:04:39
37Braam Merlier (Bel) Creaefin-Fristads
38Yan Gras (Fra) Chazal-Canyon-3G Immo 0:04:43
39Joshua Dubau (Fra) 0:04:49
40Michael Van den Ham (Can) Easton-Giant p/b Transitions Lifecare 0:05:18
41Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions 0:05:31
42Severin Sägesser (Swi) 0:05:51
43Kerry Werner (USA) 0:06:36
44Jan Nesvadba (Cze) Row 43 - Cell 2
45Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta-Skoda AlecarRow 44 - Cell 2
46Lucas Dubau (Fra) Row 45 - Cell 2
47Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) KTM Alchemist RacingRow 46 - Cell 2
48Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Row 47 - Cell 2
49Gilles Mottiez (Swi) Row 48 - Cell 2
50Philipp Heigl (Aut) Row 49 - Cell 2
51Patrick Collins (USA) Row 50 - Cell 2
52Cameron Jette (Can) Row 51 - Cell 2
53Lucas Vaz (Fra) Row 52 - Cell 2
54Ondrej Glajza (Svk) Row 53 - Cell 2
55Thomas Edhofer (Ger) Row 54 - Cell 2
56Felix Paul (Ger) Row 55 - Cell 2

World Cup rankings

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UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup final standings
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamPoints
1Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions577
2Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal531
3Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal492
4Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal473
5Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions467
6Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions444
7Corne van Kessel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert417
8Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix400
9Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Creafin-Fristads393
10Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb340
11Jens Adams (Bel) Hollebeekhoeve340
12Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers340
13Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions334
14Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions302
15Tim Merlier (Bel) Creaefin-Fristads296
16Timon Rüegg (Swi) 272
17Diether Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal269
18Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix267
19Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-Gsport-BH250
20Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing242
21Daan Soete (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal238
22Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions232
23Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers232
24Stan Godrie (Ned) 231
25Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta-Skoda Alecar203
26Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal199
27Steve Chainel (Fra) Chazal-Canyon-3G Immo181
28Sieben Wouters (Ned) Creaefin-Fristads173
29David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix167
30Lander Loockx (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers161

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