Mathieu van der Poel: It meets my expectations

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Mathieu van der Poel made his cyclo-cross comeback on Sunday at the Dendermonde World Cup and despite recent injuries, the world champion has proven he is not far from being in good shape. As expected, the Alpecin-Fenix ​​rider challenged Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at the head of the muddy race, but the Belgian escaped for a dominant victory and secured his fourth victory of the season.

“Dendermonde was a difficult start,” Van der Poel admitted after the race before heading to the award ceremony. “It’s in line with my expectations.”

Van Aert took his step in the fifth round to charge 11 seconds ahead of his rival and claimed his second consecutive World Cup victory, 49 seconds ahead of Van der Poel and 29 seconds ahead of Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions ) who finished third. A duel with Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) never materialized, as the Briton finished nearly three minutes behind for eighth place.

“It was a bit of a search for me at first. I got caught in a large group, and because of that, I lost my sight on the course. As the first lap progressed, the situation improved and I was able to anticipate how the race would unfold. I tried to put Van der Poel and Aerts under pressure from the start, but the desired result did not materialize, “Van Aert said in a statement after his victory.” Fortunately, the second attempt paid off . “

Van der Poel was due to make his cyclo-cross debut last weekend at the World Cup in Rucphen in the Netherlands, but he was delayed by a week to allow a knee injury suffered during training winter to improve. The second half of his 2021 road racing season was disrupted by a back injury. He recently trained at an Alpecin-Fenix ​​rally in Spain, but expected it would take a few races to regain his best form for the cyclocross season.

“The first half of the [race] everything went well, the second half went less and less, “said Van der Poel after his second place.” I started to get a little tired and in some parts I got quickly caught my breath. That’s why at one point I had to pick a pace that I could maintain. “

The pair will face off again on Monday in the next round of the Superprestige series in Heusden-Zolder. The 13th round of the World Cup will take place in Hulst on January 2. All races for elite men and women will be covered by Cycling news with comprehensive race reports and photo galleries.

“I love the atmosphere around the sport, although it is a pity that the public were not allowed to be present today,” said Van Aert. “I am happy with this victory and I hope to be able to continue with these results in the period to come. The next challenge will be tomorrow.

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