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by Matt de Neef
February 5, 2018
In today’s edition of the CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Wout van Aert stuns to win his third-straight CX world title; Sanne Cant takes back-to-back CX world titles; Esteban Chaves wins the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Sam Crome claims the final stage; Alejandro Valverde wins the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana; Sergio Henao takes his second-straight Colombian road title; Tony Gallopin wins Etoile de Besseges with final-stage victory; UCI announces use of video commissaires in biggest road races; Giro organisers want guarantee Froome’s results will be valid; Vincenzo Nibali set for new challenge at the Tour of Flanders; Hong Kong businessman Adam Kwok invests in Mitchelton-BikeExchange; Esteban’s Extras; Live-stream slip-up.
It wasn’t supposed to go this way. A homecrowd of 25,700 baffled spectators looked on in almost eerie silence as cyclocross’ most talented rider came completely unravelled just one lap into the 2018 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Valkenburg, The Netherlands.
Fans had hoped for a duel, but expected another solo victory. And while they were indeed treated to a shut-out solo performance, it wasn’t at the hand of top favorite Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands). Instead, the Dutch phenom cracked and barely hung in for bronze while Belgian Wout van Aert (Belgium) made it an historic triple, winning his third elite world championships in a row. Van Aert’s compatriot Michael Vanthourenhout took home the silver.
“I can’t believe that the race went like this. I didn’t expect it,” said Van Aert in the post-race interview. “I expected a big battle but this was a nice cross.”
Lars van der Haar (The Netherlands) had taken to the front first, but as in the previous events, gaps formed almost immediately and the field scattered. Unraveling like a ball of yarn, van der Poel started with a slip here, a fumble there but then his legs went. While Van Aert was making the most of this sign of weakness and steadily gapped his rival, Van der Poel looked positively cooked and was unable to match Van Aerts acceleration.
The Belgian crossed the line two and a half minutes ahead of an ecstatic Vanthourenhout while a dumbfounded Van der Poel crossed the line in third with barely a reaction.
Follow the link to read a full stage report at CyclingTips.