Mathieu van der Poel wins an exciting World Cup round in Namur after a battle with Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock.
Sunday 20 December 2020
The World Cup Cross in Namur has become a prey for Mathieu van der Poel. However, things didn't go smoothly for the world champion at all: he had to settle the score at the Citadel of Namur with a strong Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock, who after a brilliant battle with the Dutchman ended up second and third.
The clash of titans. For the first time since the World Championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland, on 2 February, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert were together at the start of a cyclocross. That made the poster on the famous Citadel even more attractive, but there were still some competitors present.
Tom Pidcock, for example, who won in Asper-Gavere last week, and Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout, who went in search of new success for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.
Iserbyt immediately out of the race
For one of them, the World Cup round already ended on the starting line. Eli Iserbyt was immediately confronted with mechanical problems and had to run for minutes towards the material post. This was a serious blow to the bill for the European champion, who almost certainly had to put away his chances of winning the World Cup.
At the very front the first separation was quickly made on the difficult course. Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock and Michael Vanthourenhout: those were the four strong men in the race. Pidcock was the first to launch an attack: the British champion attacked already in the second round and put a lot of pressure on his three competitors. Under the impulse of world champion Van der Poel, the quartet soon got together again, although Vanthourenhout had to deal with a flat tyre.
In the fourth round Pidcock fired a second attack. The young Brit immediately took a lead of more than 10 seconds, but Van der Poel did not want to give away the victory just like that. The world champion let Van Aert and Vanthourenhout on the spot one lap later and rode slowly but surely towards Pidcock.
The Dutchman came to three seconds, but after a new acceleration Pidcock got a little further away. And Wout van Aert and Michael Vanthourenhout were not far either: the difference between the leader and the number four was barely nine seconds with three laps to go.
In the seventh of nine laps Pidcock was still defending his tiny lead. In the background Van der Poel and Van Aert came together in the meantime. The two big cyclocross riders joined forces. That paid off, because in the penultimate round the duo joined 21-year old Pidcock. An exciting final battle with three announced itself, but they didn't stay together for long: Mathieu van der Poel was the next to attack and create a small gap.
Van Aert and Pidcock had to do everything they could to keep up with the world champion in the final round. For a moment the two seemed to come back, but on the cobbled climb Van der Poel made a decisive gap. The Dutchman then stepped up to his second victory of the cyclocross season. Van Aert finished second, barely three seconds behind, while the once again impressive Pidcock finished third at eleven seconds.
Michael Vanthourenhout fell far back in the final laps and finished in fourth place at 1'07". He remains leader in the World Cup standings. Number five Quinten Hermans clocked out at 2'09". Lars van der Haar and Toon Aerts were the first Telenet Baloise Lions on places six and seven.