Defending cyclocross world champion Mathieu van der Poel made it look easy on Sunday, soloing to an impressive victory in the mud at Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Van der Poel’s victory capped off an otherworldly second half of the World Cup season, which saw him win four consecutive rounds of the series.
UCI World Cup Hoogerheide results:
- 1. Mathieu Van Der Poel ,1:07:31
- 2. Wout Van Aert ,1:08:19
- 3. Kevin Pauwels ,1:08:30
- 4. Laurens Sweeck ,1:09:01
- 5. Tom Meeusen ,1:09:20
- 6. Toon Aerts ,1:09:31
- 7. Lars Van Der Haar ,1:09:47
- 8. Gianni Vermeersch ,1:10:12
- 9. Marcel Meisen ,1:10:26
- 10. Tim Merlier ,1:10:33
Van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon), who missed much of the early season recovering from knee surgery, won World Cup rounds in Namur, Heusden-Zolder and Lignieres-en-Berry before Sunday’s victory. The win elevated him as the odds-on favorite to win next weekend’s UCI world championships in Heusden-Zolder.
After his victory, van der Poel played down his dominant win.
“Maybe it looked easy, but it was very hard,” van der Poel said. “Like I said before the race, I think it was one of the toughest of the season. It was really hard to get through the mud today.”
Behind the Dutchman, Belgian rider Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) crossed the line in second place to cement his lead in the series overall. After winning the series opener in Las Vegas, Van Aert spent much of the season’s second half chasing after van der Poel. After the race, van Aert admitted he should have put up a stronger fight in Hoogerheide.
“On a course like this I should finish much closer to [van der Poel] than I did today, but that wasn’t the case,” van Aert said. “It’s very clear, it’s not just me, but all the others as well. We were all distanced quite far today.”
Van der Poel led the race virtually wire-to-wire, seizing the lead on the opening lap and never looking back. Behind him, van Aert dueled with last year’s World Cup champion Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games), Laurens Sweeck (Era-Murprotec) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea).
Belgian favorite Sven Nys, who was competing in his final World Cup before retirement, crossed the line in 13th place.
American Jeremy Powers notched the top-U.S. finished, crossing the line in 31st place. After the race, Powers described the mud as concrete on his Twitter page.
“TV won’t do justice to the concrete mud we raced in today. It was wild stuff – respect to the guys who made it look easy, it wasn’t,” Powers said via Twitter.