Van Aert ends cyclocross season with victory in Benidorm
Wout van Aert has won the World Cup cyclocross in Benidorm in heroic style. The Belgian rider from Team Visma | Lease a Bike crossed the line solo after pulling away from Michael Vanthourenhout on the final lap.
After a successful training camp in Spain, the race in Benidorm was Van Aert's last cyclocross race of the season. His goal was clear: to end the cyclocross season in style. "Unlike previous years, I have not been working towards this period. The focus is on the road, but when I'm at the start, I won't ride with the brakes on. I want to give everything I have and feel good about the cyclocross season."
Van Aert did not get off to a perfect start in Benidorm. His pedal came loose shortly after the start, forcing him to chase. By the third lap, he was back in the lead, and all chances were open again. For a brief moment, Van Aert rode away with Mathieu van der Poel, but a large group of chasers caught up with them.
After Van der Poel made a mistake, Van Aert and Vanthourenhout rode away from the rest. On the final lap, Van Aert pushed again, and the attack proved too much for Vanthourenhout. Although Van Aert crashed after the final barrier and broke his saddle, he stayed ahead of his compatriot on the line.
"It's always good to win a race, but it wasn't the most important thing today. I hoped to have good legs and end the season with a good feeling. I managed to do that, and in the end, I am happier with that than the win itself", a delighted Van Aert said.
"I was able to dig deep and fight with Mathieu. I haven't been able to do that this winter."
"I was able to dig deep and fight with Mathieu. I haven't been able to do that this winter. It's a shame that we couldn't have a duel in the end, but there were a lot of other strong riders that I had to beat. It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I won."
Van Aert almost missed out on victory after a late crash. "I thought I was smart by not jumping over the barriers, so I was sure I wouldn't make a mistake. I underestimated the surface because my bike bounced, and I jumped up against my saddle. Then my bike hit the ground, and my saddle broke off. That caused a lot of stress."
Nevertheless, Van Aert took his third win of the season and is in good spirits ahead of the road race campaign, which starts in three weeks. Van Aert's coach, Mathieu Heijboer, was pleased with Van Aert’s recent progress. "Wout has used several cyclocross races to prepare for the road season. He didn't make his cyclocross campaign too long and was able to do other necessary training and training camps at the same time."
"The starting point was that we didn't build up to peak form but worked on a gradual build-up. It worked, and we will continue with a week's training in Spain right after this last cross."