Aernouts takes Michielsgestel Cross as Boom flops
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Aernouts takes Michielsgestel Cross as Boom flops

by Ben Atkins at 12:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results

Rabobank’s Bart Aernouts won the Grote Prijs Richard Groenendaal in the Dutch town of Sint-Michielsgestel. The Belgian was the best of an otherwise almost entirely Dutch field, while the majority of his compatriots were racing in Tervuren. He managed to get a gap early on and stayed away to finish 30 seconds clear of teammate Gerben De Knegt. Thijs Al (AA Drink) beat Tijmen Eising (Sunweb-Revor) in the sprint for third.

“Gerben [De Knegt] is in slightly better shape at the moment,” Aernouts told, “and so when I managed to get a gap at the beginning I knew I had to continue full gas. It worked out well because I knew then that I could win.”

As the last race before the national championships next weekend, the race was also billed as the first cyclocross race of the 2009/10 season for 2008 World champion – and reigning Dutch champion – Lars Boom (Rabobank). Partly due to his poor starting position, he could only manage a disappointing 23rd. The 24-year-old’s last truly competitive race was the Giro di Lombardia, back in October, as he has made a successful transition to road racing. He has decided to make a return to cyclocross in order to defend his national champion’s jersey, try to win back his World title and lay the foundations to what he hopes will be a successful spring classics season.

“I haven’t had much time to train for cyclocross because of the winter weather,” he told, “and so I missed some rhythm. Also the snow is not my favourite surface, but I hadn’t really considered it possible to immediately get onto the podium here today. At the start the situation was too difficult, with narrow tracks and a lot of riders to pass.”

The Dutch champion hasn’t given up hope of retaining his jersey in the championships at Heerlen next weekend. “I will try and get onto Gerben De Knegt’s wheel and see how long I can stay with him,” he said. “It would be nice to have a duel for the title, and everyone can rest assured that I won’t just simply give my title up.

“My goal is the spring classics, especially the Ronde van Vlaanderen,” he continued. “I’m doing these cross races because I love cyclocross and I have a wide range of national titles over all categories.”

Gerben De Knegt will start next weekend’s race as the overwhelming favourite, but knows that he needs to avoid complacency with his main rivals. “Today I didn’t see [Boom] during the race,” he told, “but I knew that it would not be possible for him to move far forward due to his starting position. With Boom you never know, if next week in Heerlen is muddy and is more about skill than condition, then Lars will be in his element.

“I hope I can take the title,” he continued. “I have the necessary form and I’m ready for the battle, maybe with Lars Boom but also with Thijs Al.”


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