Young crossers Van der Poel and Van Aert confirming talent
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Young crossers Van der Poel and Van Aert confirming talent

by Kyle Moore at 8:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
Each pick up a second place finish in first race amongst the elites

Mathieu Van der PoelTwo of the top riders of the future of cyclocross have both taken advantage of their limited time spent racing with the elite men, as Mathieu Van der Poel (Enertherm-BKCP) and Wout Van Aert (Telenet-Fidea) have each taken a surprising runner-up spot in cross events this season. This comes in spite of the fact that neither has yet turned 20 years old.

A few weeks ago in Jaarmarktcross Niel, Van Aert took a large early lead in a muddy affair, to be eventually overtaken by only world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL). Yesterday in the Scheldecross at Antwerpen, Van der Poel impressively worked his way through the front of the field after starting on the third line, eventually working all the way up to second, behind future team-mate Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

Without a doubt, Van der Poel comes in as the more highly touted rider, having won two junior cross titles (pictured) and a junior road race world championship on top of it. But Van Aert was also present and accounted for on Saturday in Antwerp, grabbing seventh place.

When Van der Poel crossed the line ahead of everyone except Albert, he couldn’t hide his glee. “Obviously, I’m very happy with second place,” he said later. “Even before I had made it into the top ten, I felt from the outset that my legs were very good. Starting in the third line, I didn’t have much trouble driving to the head of the race.

“After Nys was out, I was able to ride up to Rob Peeters and Philipp Walsleben, but by that time, Albert was gone. But it was a very nice experience.”

Van Aert’s day required him to overcome a bit more adversity, having missed much of his team’s training last week in Mallorca due to a cold. He also crashed in the sand on the final lap in Antwerp, completing a full somersault in the process. In spite of his Jaarmarktcross experience in November, he rode sensibly near the front and managed the top ten.

“I had to wait and see what would happen today,” Van Aert admitted. “If you can’t ride your bike as often, you don’t know how you will react [in a race], but it was not too bad. I was able to accomplish a good hour.

“When I got stuck facing the heavy winds, it got a little difficult, so I tried to put it in other wheels,” Van Aert added. “I had the intention of going into the final lap trying to get a better place, but I failed due to the fall in the sand. But I’m satisfied.

“It was easier than I expected.”


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