Cyclocross

Van Aert takes first race win since Tour de France crash

Van Aert took emotional victory at DVV Krawatencross Saturday while Sunday's Superprestige Merksplas race was canceled due to storms

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took an emotional and significant victory at DVV Krawatencross Saturday.

Seven months after winning a stage and then seriously injuring his leg at the Tour de France in July, the victory marks a significant step for the Belgian.

Having spent five months in rehab and recovery after his Tour crash, van Aert only returned to racing in December last year, and has never been far off the pace, taking a string of top-six finishes including fourth place at the World Championships last weekend.

Having been so close to taking a comeback victory since his return to racing, van Aert made it count Saturday, beating Quinten Hermans by 21 seconds after powering away from the Wanty-Gobert Tormans rider in the final lap.

“When I crossed the line, a lot went through my mind. This is the confirmation that I’m still able to do it,” Van Aert said. “It might not be my biggest victory, but it certainly feels like it.”

Hermans had taken the lead early in the race and built a significant gap. Van Aert, who had started three rows back on the grid slowly but surely worked his way through the field before launching out to chase down and overhaul Hermans, who had built a 20-second lead. The victory had added resonance for van Aert being in front of a home crowd.

“It went through my mind all week: this race and the dream to win here,” he said. “It is a nice reward after all I have been through in the past months. This is quite emotional.”

Hermans took second behind van Aert, while Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) completed the podium in third. Mathieu van der Poel was not racing.

Earlier that day, newly-crowned women’s world champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) won the women’s race, edgeing out her season-long rival Annemarie Worst (777) with a late move. 18-year-old junior world champion Shirin van Anrooij took an impressive third place.

Many of the same riders that contested the DVV Krawatencross Saturday were due to line up to start Sunday’s Superprestige race in Merksplas. However, a huge storm battering northern Europe led to the race being canceled, with the organizers stating:

“After consultation with the security services, we will unfortunately have to CANCEL the Superprestige race in Merksplas. This is not to jeopardize the general safety of the riders, supporters and organization.”

The Superprestige series is scheduled to continue next weekend in Middelkerke.