Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
Mathieu van der Poel led the cyclocross world championships from end-to-end and crossed the finish line with a 90 second gap, leaving no doubt who stands as the best male cyclocross racer on the planet.
Great Britain’s Tom Pidcock finished second, ahead of Belgium’s Toon Aerts in third.
For much of this cyclocross season, van der Poel has been content to spend at least some time with the front group. Not so on Sunday. He sprinted off the start line, dragging the field into a long, painful line, snapping the elastic before the end of the first lap. He was alone with a gap of 15 seconds as he passed under the start/finish line again.
Heavy rains turned the course into a soup of mud, which then thickened as the rains slowed and stopped.
“I expected it to break up early because the course was really tough,” van der Poel said. “It was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. Especially in those last laps, the bridges were nearly too hard to get up.”
“It was a very honest race,” he added. “The strongest riders were in front immediately and that’s a good thing at a world championship.”
Pidcock, in his debut elite worlds, attacked the chase group on the third of seven laps, creating a gap that the Belgians behind couldn’t close. The former junior and U23 world champion was ill earlier this week, but got a good start from his second row slot and is known as a good rider in the mud.
“It’s unreal,” Pidcock said. “Mathieu is one of the best riders in the world. I was second to him today. That’s incredible. I stepped up to the elite’s this season. I could’ve made it an easy time for myself by racing in the U23s but I’ve come to ride with the elites and I got onto the podium. It’s really pleasing,” Pidcock told Sporza.
1 – Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) 1:08:52
2 – Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain) 0:01:20
3 – Toon Aerts (Belgium) 0:01:45
4 – Wout Van Aert (Belgium) 0:02:04
5 – Laurens Sweeck (Belgium) 0:02:32
6 – Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) 0:03:12
7 – Corne Van Kessel (Netherlands) 0:03:52
8 – Tim Merlier (Belgium) 0:04:32
9 – Quinten Hermans (Belgium) 0:04:48
10 – Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) 0:05:11