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Van Aert takes hometown victory in Herentals

HULST NETHERLANDS JANUARY 02 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team JumboVisma crosses the finishing line during the 6th Hulst Vestingcross UCI CycloCross Worldcup 2022 Mens Elite CXWorldCup UCIcyclocrossWC on January 02 2022 in Hulst Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Wout van Aert (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

After suffering a mechanical issue and finishing fourth at the weekend's UCI World Cup round in Hulst, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) got back to winning ways at the X2O Trofee to take a hometown victory in Herentals.

The Belgian ticked off his eighth win in nine races so far this season, racing to a solo victory having ridden away from his rivals on the second lap of nine. Van Aert left both Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) behind, the trio having separated themselves from the rest of the field early on.

All Van Aert had to do for the remainder of the race was avoid crashing and make sure there would be no repeat of his mechanical troubles. Midway through the race, Pidcock set off alone to salvage second place, distancing Aerts in the process and securing the result as Aerts rounded off the podium following a late charge.

Van Aert led from the very start of the race, riding at the front of the group in the early exchanges along with Aerts, who joined him in a lead duo in the early muddy forest section. Aerts was Van Aert's only company for much of the opening lap as Pidcock led the chase behind, with the Briton eventually battling his way across on the start-finish straight.

By the end of lap one, the lead trio had a gap of six seconds over Daan Soete (Deschacht-Hens-Maes), Corné van Kessel (Tormans-Circus), and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), though it already looked as though the podium battle was set.

The second lap saw Van Aert make his move, though it was more of a gradual distancing rather than one major acceleration. Neither Aerts nor Pidcock had a response when the Belgian upped the pace, and by the time the pair crossed the start-finish line again they were five seconds down.

The gaps were still small at that point, but Van Aert would only gain time in the upcoming laps, with Aerts and Pidcock unable to do anything to claw him back. Further back, a group of six led by Van Kessel crossed the line at 26 seconds down.

By the midway point of the race, the battle for the lead was all but over as Van Aert started lap five 41 seconds up on his chasers. To that point, Aerts and Pidcock had stuck together but partway through the lap, the Briton made a bid for second.

He eked out a gap over Aerts, though wasn't making any indents into Van Aert's lead. Aerts kept him relatively close, finishing lap five eight seconds behind but unable to drag Pidcock back despite near matching his lap times.

With two laps to go, Van Aert's lead reached the minute mark for the first time, the victory all but in the bag as the remaining suspense of the day focused on Aerts trying to bring back Pidcock. It looked like it wouldn't happen, though a late charge from Aerts on the final lap saw him close right in on Pidcock.

The Belgian couldn't fully put the fight to his rival, though, losing time just after he made the catch as Pidock kicked again.

In the end, Van Aert soloed home after a drama-free ride with a huge advantage of 1:06, more than enough time to savour the celebrations as he rode down the home straight. Aerts sprinted home to finish a second behind Pidcock in a bid to defend his series lead.

With his third placed finish, Aerts retains the overall X2O Trofee series lead ahead of Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Vanthourenhout, with Van Aert in fourth and out of the overall picture having missed the first two rounds of the series.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 1:02:43
2Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:06
3Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions 0:01:07
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:02:03
5Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions 0:02:13
6Jens Adams (Bel) 0:02:18
7Tom Meeusen (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes 0:02:46
8Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix 0:03:32
9Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:03:44
10Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team 0:04:28
11Daan Soete (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes 0:04:48
12Curtis White (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:04:58
13Lander Loockx (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-Group Hens-Containers Maes 0:05:01
14Samuel Gaze (NZl) Alpecin-Fenix 0:06:37
15Mathijs Wuyts (Bel)
16Diether Sweeck (Bel) Iko - Crelan
17Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions
18Kerry Werner (USA)
19Koen Van Dijke (Ned)
20Nick Peers (Bel)
21Michael Van Den Ham (Can)
22Joren Bloem (Ned)
23Senne De Meyer (Bel)
24Maarten Van Staeyen (Bel)
25Nicholas Lando (USA)
26Finnegan O'Connor (USA)
27Yelle Leaerts (Bel)
28Andy Ruts (Bel)
29Yannick Mayer (Ger)
30Frederick Junge (USA)
DNFLaurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal
DNFTim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix
DNFSiebe Tormans (Bel)
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