Wout van Aert had good chances of matching Mathieu van der Poel by taking a fourth world title in the Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, but had to settle for a second position as he had no match for Mathieu van der Poel's explosivity today.
“I'm disappointed that I didn't win," van Aert told reporters in a post-race interview. "I was under pressure from the first minute. I had a hard time especially in the first half hour. I felt like a cowardly rider in the wheel, there was little point in trying anything, because it wasn't going to work anyway. Mathieu takes it in the sprint, so chapeau.”
The two looked evenly matched throughout the fast race, however van der Poel being the one taking the initiative frequently. It looked as if van Aert had been suffering, but as he sustained the wheel a sprint was likely and in a head-to-head the Belgian had a good opportunity to succeed.
"I accelerated in front of the beams because every time I found myself losing something there. In the end I tried to turn the finish line in second position, but was forced into the front and had no answer. That is racing, " he says.
However as the riders turned into the final turn, van Aert waited to launch the move. “In retrospect, I had a better chance if I had started the sprint immediately,” he said. Although it featured uphill gradients, the sprint was very sharp and short, with van der Poel having a big spike of watts that could not be overturned by van Aert.
“But I didn't, so that's my fault. Mathieu was the strongest in the race," the Jumbo-Visma rider concluded. His cyclocross season ended here, as did van der Poel's, as both now eye the spring classics and will both return to racing at Strade Bianche.