Strong Van Aert soloes to victory in Koksijde sands
Wout van Aert has won the X2O Trophy Koksijde. The rider of Team Jumbo-Visma rode clear of the competition in the Belgian coastal town during the second part of the race. In the women's race earlier in the day, Fem van Empel and Marianne Vos finished second and fifth, respectively.
After the pack picked up the pace in the opening few laps, Van Aert, Laurens Sweeck, and Mathieu van der Poel began to pull away. Van Aert accelerated just as the cross reached halfway. Subsequently, the Belgian gradually extended his lead before winning the race in Koksijde's sand.
Van Aert needed to swap bikes. "It was necessary", the winner acknowledged. "A little rain fell before the start, but it had little impact on the course, so I dared to ride with slick tires. However, during the cross, the rain became more intense. I decided to swap bikes because I didn't want to take unnecessary risks throughout the race. In retrospect, that turned out to be a wise decision."
"I was very keen to win today"
"I was very keen to win today. That's mostly because I haven't been riding in Koksijde in a while, rather than because I had horrible luck in Herentals. I haven't been able to ride here in recent years due to injuries and the place on the calendar. Fortunately, this time I was able to participate. I am thrilled with my win. My strong physical condition often shows in the second half of a cyclocross race. I recovered well from the several sandy sections and didn't make many mistakes. It feels wonderful to cross the finish line as the winner", Van Aert said after his sixth cyclocross victory of the season.
Van Empel battled for the win in the women's race for a long time, but the European champion had to concede victory to Shirin van Anrooij. "I didn't have the legs to win today. I made the most of it. Today, I can be happy with a podium result. Now, it's crucial to recuperate from this challenging race and be ready to race again on Sunday", Van Empel looked ahead.
"I didn't have the legs to win today"
After more than a month, Vos returned to the field and finished in a respectable fifth place. "My first cross in a long time was arduous. I tried to ride the right lines as much as possible today, but that isn't easy in the sand. It's good to be back. I'm looking forward to the next cyclocross races. The competition is very strong, but I can only ensure I'm in good shape in the coming weeks."