Van der Poel is five-time champion after a tremendous sprint against Van Aert

It is one of the rivalries of cycling, in particular, and of sport, in general. Mathieu van der Poel (1995, 28 years old) and Wout van Aert, despite being from a different fifth (1994, 28 years old), met for the umpteenth time (the 180th in total in all categories, points out procyclingstats). This time the World Cup was at stake in Hoogerheide (Netherlands), ending a spectacular cyclocross season and the title went to Van der Poel, the fifth of his career (2015, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023), who beat Van Aert on the asphalt in a tremendous sprint. In this way, the World Cup gap between the two increases, because the Belgian is left with three rainbows (2016, 2017 and 2018). The podium was completed by the also Belgian Ely Iserbyt. The three repeated the same podium as in the Benidorm World Cup just two weeks ago, the last time they met. Felipe Orts was unable to enter the prized top-ten by finishing 19th, while the other Spaniard, Kevin Suárez, was 30th.

Despite the fact that 40 runners started, of 18 different nationalities, there was no doubt that it would be a one-on-one between Van der Poel and Van Aert, the final clash between Dutch (host, although born in Belgium) and Flemish. In the face to face between the two this campaign, Van Aert dominated by 6-4 in the ten meetings. The eleventh, the most important, was for a Van der Poel who managed to win against his compatriots on a circuit designed by his father, Adrie van der Poel, who was also world champion of the modality in 1996. It was a fast, dry track and in which it was, a priori, affordable to ride between two riders of such a high level. Unlike on other occasions, Van Aert started well and in the first corners the Dutchman was already second and the Belgian third. Only Van der Haar was ahead.

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Only 3:30 of the race had elapsed when the two were already riding solo being the head of the race, perhaps sooner than expected. They didn’t take a turn to leave. Given the pace, I was about to see how many laps the test would take, which was decided after the second pass through the finish line based on the times. To the delight of the more than 30,000 present, the World Championship was going to be ten laps, exceeding the classic hour of the race. Alternatives between the two, hand in hand… and a clear better step for Van der Poel on the boards. The expected. However, he couldn’t make a difference, Wout didn’t let go, and on some occasions he let him pass so he could take command.


Constant alternative, loose harnesses on both sides… but nothing. They did not let go of each other. They were aware that risking the sprint was the inevitable outcome. On the final lap, Van Aert entered the planks ahead to avoid an attack there by Van der Poel, and it worked out well for him. In this way, the asphalt, the finish line and sprint arrived. Without getting behind the wheel, taking the initiative, the Dutchman grabbed on top to move the bike aggressively. Impossible for Wout, he couldn’t even get part of the bike into it. Mathieu’s smile on the podium, Van Aert’s less friendly and normal face, and another fight to add to the long book of confrontations. “This victory is part of my top-three”, said the brilliant new champion. It is not for less. Until next winter… on the mud. Soon, they will resume this duel on the road.

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