"Suddenly one of them comes riding by on a moped" - Thijs Zonneveld describes his encounter with Wout Van Aert on Gravel World Championships course

The Gravel World Championships in Veneto was won convincingly by Matej Mohoric, who left everything and everyone behind him in a real battle of attrition and soloed to victory with flying colors. AD columnist and BEAT Cycling Club rider Thijs Zonneveld also made an appearance in northeastern Italy, where he ultimately finished in 38th place.

A top forty ranking in a very strong field of participants: is that something the 43-year-old Zonneveld is satisfied with? "The level was unprecedentedly high. When such strong riders participate, competing with the very best is not a realistic goal for me. It went ridiculously fast from the start. It was literally one big cloud of dust, right from the first kilometer," he aptly describes the survival journey in an interview with In de Leiderstrui.

"Just before the first climb, a rider crashed right in front of me. I fell over him. He tapped my wheel and that caused my quick release to come loose. So I had to get hold of that. That took quite some time. The group was broken in two and so I ended up in the second part. And there was no one left who was good enough to get back. I decided to go by myself. What followed next was one big catch-up race," Zonneveld says bluntly.

"Suddenly one of them comes riding by on a moped..." Zonneveld starts the anecdote about how he ended up in the same group with Wout Van Aert, laughing. "It's not normal how fast that guy goes. At first I thought it was relaxing to be in a group with him. It soon became apparent that it was not actually relaxing at all."

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