Team Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert beat Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) to win the cyclo-cross event in Dendermonde on Sunday.
The World Cup event was the 12th round of the season, with the pair facing off for the first time in this campaign. Third place went to Baloise Trek Lions’ Toon Aerts.
Van der Poel was initially aggressive as he and Aerts pushed hard, but Van Aert rallied later and that led to him and Van der Poel pulling away from the rest.
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With almost three quarters of an hour gone, Van Aert left his rival behind to take a fourth win of the season and claim a consecutive World Cup by a margin of 49 seconds.
“It’s a beautiful victory in a World Cup on the highest level,” said Van Aert after the race.
“Unfortunately, it’s without the public but the week of Christmas is the most beautiful week to ride cyclo-cross races.
“I’m happy to start like this and hopefully I can continue like that. It’s a big difference [there were no fans due to Covid-19 restrictions] especially on a course like this which is perfect for big crowds and a nice atmosphere. It’s such a shame as I don’t understand at all why it’s not possible to have the public here. I don’t think it’s dangerous for anyone.
“Anyway, I’m a professional cyclist, I’m happy to do my job and try to be motivated and focused on my own race.”
Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal’s Eli Iserbyt took ninth place, who leads the overall World Cup by 85 points. The next round is in Hulst on January 2, the first of three remaining rounds.
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