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Van Aert took his eighth win in nine starts in the 2021-22 ‘cross season by soloing to another win.
The only blemish on his record is a fourth place in Hulst, when he suffered a mechanical on the first lap and never got back on terms to take the win.
At Herentals, the Belgian rider dropped Toon Aerts (Baloise-Trek Lions) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) on the second of nine laps.
Once away, van Aert rode a strong race, taking few risks, while behind him Pidcock distanced himself from Aerts just after the halfway mark in the race, trailing the front by 41 seconds.
Gaps between the three on the front were minimal but slowly expanded over the final four laps, as they rode to maintain margins over the chasers, including Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Lars van der Haar (Baloise-Trek Lions).
Van Aert grew his lead to more than 60 seconds with just less than two laps remaining, and Aerts made a very strong charge from third to try to displace Pidcock who refused to relinquish the runner-up position.
While finishing in third, Aerts scored enough points to maintain a lead in the X2O Trofee series, ahead of World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).
Just prior to the start, van Aert announced he would not be heading to ’cross worlds in Fayetteville, Arkansas on January 29-30.
2022 X2O Trofee Herentals elite men results
- Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 1:02:45
- Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), at 1:06
- Toon Aerts (Baloise-Trek Lions), at 1:07
Lucinda Brand adds another win in Herentals
Lucinda Brand again proved to be the rider to beat this season with another victory, in Herentals.
The win on Wednesday marked the seventh consecutive win for the current world champion, who has stood atop the podium 16 times so far in the 2021-22 season.
Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) finished in second, and secured enough points to maintain the lead in the X2O Badkamers Trofee series.
Annemarie Worst (777) rounded out the podium, denying former world champion Sanne Cant (Iko-Crelan) of celebratory honors.
Brand led for four of six laps, after chasing down the fast-starting Betsema in the second lap.
Betsema raced aggressively, but could not hold the world champion on a wooded, uphill, technical section.
She trailed Brand by some four seconds with four laps remaining, and this margin was the closest she would get to Brand on the course that featured sharp elevation changes.
At the halfway mark, Brand had a 24-second margin and held this gap for another lap.
Going into the final lap, Brand grew the gap to Betsema to just more than half a minute and continued to extend this margin to 49 seconds in the sixth and final circuit.
Worst and Cant scrapped for the final podium position, and it was Worst who came out ahead of the Belgian when Cant faltered with 1.5 laps remaining.
Americans Clara Honsinger (Cannnodale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Madigan Munro (Trek Factory Racing) finished in eighth and ninth, respectively.
2022 X2O Trofee Herentals elite women results
- Lucinda Brand, 49:58
- Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), at :49
- Annemarie Worst (777), at :59