Wout van Aert won the Cyclocross WorldCup race in Pont-Château, France. The win in the penultimate race of the series ahead of Toon Aerts not only meant first place on this day, he also took over the overall lead in the World Cup from Aerts. The podium was completed by Michael Vanthourenhout. Serial winner Mathieu van der Poel meanwhile was absent in training camp preparing for the Worlds on the first weekend of February.
On the very fast course Wout van Aert, wearing his white World Champion’s outfit, on his STEVENS Super Prestige rode the race from the front in a tactically smart fashion. The hard-packed surface, the only slightly hilly profile and wide-stretched corners made it difficult for any rider to break away.
Neither Wout van Aert nor Toon Aerts nor any of their competitors such as Michael Vanthourenhout, Lars van der Haar, Jens Adams and Laurens Sweeck of team Pauwels Sauzen Vastgoedservice were able to create any sustainable lead after their individual attacks.
Sections like the hurdles and a flat therefore rideable staircase turned out to be far more decisive. Lars van der Haar crashed riding this very staircase, such splitting the peloton into a head and a chase group. Yet, he and Laurens Sweeck were able to catch up to the four-strong head group. So the race was eventually decided in the sprint, which was won by Van Aert who attacked from the front. Jens Adam, having ridden a strong race in the head group comes in fifth, Laurens Sweeck finishes sixth. Gianni Vermeersch, also riding a STEVENS Super Prestige and just having concluded his training camp comes in a strong 10th.
By winning this race, Van Aert passed Toon Aerts in the overall ranking and is now ahead by three points. So the final race next Sunday in Hoogerheide, NL is going to be a thrilling one.