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Cyclocross

Q&A: Toon Aerts on the coming ‘cross season — and his new bike

The 2021 worlds bronze medalist is gearing up for the coming 'cross season.

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At the end of the 2020 – 21 season, Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) was ranked third in the UCI’s standings. The 27-year-old from Rijkevorsel finished the season strongly, winning the X20 Trofee Brussels University Cyclocross, and taking a bronze medal in the world championships in Ostende. Aerts is totally committed to cyclocross and excited for the coming races — and also his new bike.

 

Also read: Cyclocross: What is it, where did it come from, and how to start racing

 

How have you been keeping busy during the off-season?

In March it wasn’t possible for us to go on a ski holiday, like we do normally after the CX season. So we stayed in rainy Belgium and did a lot of walking through the forest with… mud… just like during the season… but at least without a bike on our shoulders!

In the summer I had a week off and went to Garda Lake in Italy. I absolutely love this place!

How’s the CX training going? Have there been any changes to the way you’ve prepared for the season?

There wasn’t a big change to my build-up to the season. Just like every year, we did some road races with the team. Those were good, especially the gravel race Dwars door het Hageland and the Baloise Belgium Tour. Together with a good holiday in Italy and some good training camps in Girona and Mallorca, my summer was great.

What are your targets for this coming season?

At the end of my career, I want to win as many as possible of the big classic races: Koppenberg, Zonhoven, Overijse, Waterloo, Baal, and Iowa are already on my Palmares. Together with the Nationals and Europeans, the World Cup and Superprestige. But there’s still a lot on my bucket-list I have to tick off!

Which courses/races are your favorites?

I’m an old-school mud-devil. When a track is hard, with deep mud, running sections, and very dirty bikes, I’m on my best. The combination of mud and climbing is even better. I really love hard climbs with slippery technical descents. Namur, Koppenberg, Baal all have this profile of course. Sand races are also happy days for me. Koksijde, Zonhoven and Oostende are just amazing.

 

Also read: Q&A: Clara Honsinger is ready to tackle the 2021-22 cyclocross season
But to be honest I really like racing close to my home. Not because of the track, but because the atmosphere when racing for home crowds is just amazing! Lille, Oostmalle, Merksplas, and Loenhout are all in an area of 10 kilometers away from my hometown. There’s only one race that is far away from where I also get that hometown feeling – Waterloo! Racing at the place where our Trek Boone is made, a public with a lot of people who worked on our bike and on a really cool track, it’s just amazing. The win in 2018 was one of my best ever.

Do you have any equipment upgrades for the coming season?

Yes, and I’m very excited about them! The team rides on a whole new frame next season. The new Trek Boone. The bike feels very quick in accelerating and really precise in its handling. It’s a frame developed with input from all the Baloise Trek Lions team. It’s great to feel that the engineers could make a frame like we want for the tracks of today and the future. CX is faster and more technical than ever. This bike is made for that. Together with the nice colors, it’s a dream-bike.

The groupset is SRAM Red as the previous years, but now we also get a 10-30 cassette. Together with a lot of choices in front rings, we can make the perfect gearing choices depending on the track.

100% is a new sponsor for us and delivers some lovely glasses and gloves.

And Garmin helps us with the analysis after races and training with their Forerunner watch, and Edge computers.