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by Neal Rogers
December 18, 2017
Vale Sharon Laws: July 7, 1974 – December 16, 2017; 20-year-old Brit Evie Richards stuns favorites to win World Cup in Namur; Van Aert solos to muddy World Cup while Van der Poel struggles; Martin backtracks on criticizing UCI’s handling of Froome case; Could Murdoch’s sale of Sky TV threaten Team Sky’s future?; Sixth Transcontinental Race to begin July 29 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium; Report: Lobato to be fired by LottoNL-Jumbo over sleeping pill incident; Video: Massive crash at 2017 Austral Wheelrace; Video: Former UCI president Brian Cookson on Team Sky; Video: The Schnetzer Family excels at Cycle-ball and Artistic Cycling; Video: Mehdi Benhamouda (Novo Nordisk) has skills.
World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) soloed to victory Sunday at the sixth round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Namur, in the French-speaking southern part of Belgium. It was Van Aert’s second World Cup win of the 2017-18 season. World Cup series leader, European champion Mathieu Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) had an off day laced with several crashes and mishaps and finished third, two seconds behind Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea)
A large crash at the start saw Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon) and Tom Meeusen (Beobank-Corendon) on the ground; Vantornout would exit the race after only 200 metres covered, with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Van der Poel was also off the bike on the first lap, falling over while dismounting before a sharp run-up, allowing Van Aert to open a gap. That gap stretched out on the second of nine laps, and though Van der Poel worked his way into second place, he was joined by Aerts before the lap had ended. Midway through the fourth lap, Van Aert’s lead had grown to 40 seconds over Van der Poel, and 51 seconds over Aerts. Van der Poel hit the deck again on the fourth lap, this time in a heavy rutted section.
Toon Aerts Toon (Telenet-Fidea) our-sprinted Mathieu Van Der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) to finish second at the 2017 Namur World Cup.
Before he’d started the fifth lap, Van Aert had already begun lapping riders; into lap 5, his lead over Aerts grew to 59 seconds, and 1:08 over Van der Poel. The gap steadied from there, with the world champion winning by a massive 1:04 over Aerts, who sprinted Van der Poel for second place. Finishing third was bittersweet for Van der Poel, who suffered on the day but also avoided disaster; on the final lap, Van der Poel lost control of his front wheel on a steep descent and hit a stake, nearly going head first into a large tree.
“Maybe it looked simple, but it was not easy,” Van Aert said. “This is one of the hardest courses, and even with a big gap in front, you still need to concentrate, and try not to make mistakes. It was still difficult before the last lap, but I enjoying it with the crowd on the last lap. It’s an amazing feeling to perform again on this level. It feels like a fresh start. I came back from my training camp with fresh legs. Yesterday [at DVV Verzekeringen Scheldecross Antwerpen, where he finished second to Van der Poel] I was good, and today I felt even stronger.”