Mathieu van der Poel has become cyclocross world champion in Hoogerheide by beating Wout van Aert in a sprint with two. The World Championship turned out to be an incredibly exciting duel between the top favorites, who pushed each other to the limit. In the sprint, Van der Poel played on the surprise, with which he was too fast for Van Aert. Eli Iserbyt grabbed the bronze. Before the start, all eyes were already on Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, but the starting position was also interesting. Van Aert had to start on the second row and chose the wheel of his Dutch rival. The holeshot was for the home drivers: Lars van der Haar was in front, ahead of Van der Poel and a fast Joris Nieuwenhuis. Van Aert squeezed himself into VDP’s wheel with difficulty in the opening phase.
Attack in round 1
Already in the first round MVDP chose the attack. He chose a sloping strip to make a full attack. The only one who could follow him was Van Aert. After three minutes, the massively flocked audience already got what it had come to Hoogerheide for: the duel of duels. The opposition was already more than ten seconds in the first round. Van der Poel set the pace and put pressure, but Van Aert followed and took over the lead after two rounds. In the third round (out of ten), the Dutchman tried to make a hole again, but his eternal rival didn’t budge. The average speed of the two frontrunners proved that it was going very fast: towards 30 km/h.
League of their own
Neither of the two ruffs could make a real difference. The Dutchman jumped better and better over the bars, but could not really drive away from Van Aert. That is why the Dutch leader tried to take off on one of the bridges in the seventh round. For a moment he had a four bike length lead, but again Van Aert managed to close the gap quickly.
In the eighth and ninth rounds, Van der Poel and Van Aert dropped the pace a bit. This was reflected in the lap times, and pursuers Lars van der Haar and Eli Iserbyt – who went on and over Michael Vanthourenhout in the second half of the cross – were able to approach to within 15 seconds. However, they did not come any closer, because in the final round the title favorites went on the cutting edge.
Van der Poel wins sprint
Van Aert took over in the woods and tried to put pressure on Van der Poel, but the Dutchman took over command again. There was no attack, with the passage over the beams and subsequent stairs in prospect. They both came over the beams well, so it came down to a sprint-à-deux on the sloping Scheldeweg. Mathieu van der Poel was the better in that sprint. He played it on the surprise and immediately made a gap with Wout van Aert, who had the greatest difficulty to reassemble Van der Poel’s sharp spurt. The Dutchman managed to win his fifth world title among the elites in ‘his’ Hoogerheide, putting the mutual battle with Van Aert at 5-3. Twelve seconds behind the sprint for victory, Iserbyt managed to take the bronze by beating Van der Haar.