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Twenty-year-old Mathieu van der Poel is easily in the discussion for men’s cyclocross rider of the year. But when it comes to one standout performance — the ride of the year — the 20-year-old’s record-breaking world championship victory in Tabor, Czech Republic, in February 2015, is the clear choice.
Van der Poel led the race from the second lap, bunny-hopping barriers and two-wheel drifting through muddy turns to hold off three strong Belgians — Wout Van Aert, Tom Meeusen, and Kevin Pauwels — and become the youngest elite world cyclocross champion in history.
After controlling the junior category for years, VDP — son of Dutch cyclocross star Adri van der Poel and grandson of Tour de France legend Raymond Poulidor — made the jump to the elite category without missing a step. With a huge engine and incredible bike-handling skills, he quickly established himself a favorite at any race he entered. But his worlds performance was what dreams are made of.