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Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) maintained his unbeaten march through the 2021-22 ‘cross season after bettering Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) at the X20 Trofee Baal – GP Sven Nys on Saturday.
Van Aert came back from finding himself in third in the middle of the race after a crash forced him to change his shoe.
The Belgian first hunted down and dropped Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) and then distanced a defiant Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) to win his seventh race of the season.
Pidcock claimed second, while Iserbyt secured third and moved closer to Toon Aerts (Trek-Baloise Lions) in the X2o Trofee series.
Aerts finished fifth to retain his lead in the series classification.
Zelfs een val en kapotte schoen kunnen @WoutvanAert niet afstoppen in Baal. De Belgische kampioen rijdt in de slotronde weg van @Tompid en pakt zijn zevende zege in evenveel crossen!#X2OBadkamersTrofee #GPSvenNys pic.twitter.com/9BAcheTIUZ
— X²O Badkamers Trofee (@X2OTrofee) January 1, 2022
Iserbyt, van Aert, Pidcock, Aerts and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) had formed a small group at the front in the middle of the race.
Pidcock and Aerts had both led for long sections of the opening laps before separate errors in a deeply rutted muddy section forced mistakes that cost them the front position.
Vanthourennhout and Aerts fell off the pace in lap three as van Aert began applying the pressure. The Belgian champ squeezed harder on lap four, attacking on a long stretch of mud just as Iserbyt was close to crashing.
The move saw van Aert grab a handful of seconds over Pidcock, who in turn had a small gap over Iserbyt.
Van Aert looked to be at the start of a trademark long solo when a slide and fall on a wet descent saw him damage his bike, bending the brake-hood.
— Les Rois du Peloton (@LRoisDuPeloton) January 1, 2022
Pidcock was able to bridge back to van Aert as the Jumbo-Visma ace nursed his bike back to the pits, and the Brit was then able to take a strong lead when van Aert was forced to change his shoe. The long pit-stop also saw Iserbyt come past van Aert, leaving a gap of a few seconds between positions one through three.
Van Aert went on a mission after finding himself in third. He soon caught and dropped Iserbyt before he began to hunt after Pidcock.
Pidcock held a gap of just nine seconds with two laps remaining, and van Aert was relentless in the chase. Van Aert motored across the gap in the penultimate circuit and locked onto Pidcock’s wheel as the Brit made a series of minor mistakes. Meanwhile, Iserbyt kept chasing hard in third place as he looked to put time into classification rival Aerts.
There was no separating Pidcock and van Aert through the first half of the last circuit until van Aert powered past his young rival on a long straight. Van Aert took a slim lead, and then an error from Pidcock opened the door for win number seven as the Belgian went on to win by nine seconds.
🏆 X2O Trofee Baal ME (C1) 🇧🇪
1 🇧🇪 Wout van Aert
2 🇬🇧 Tom Pidcock
3 🇧🇪 Eli Iserbyt
4 🇧🇪 To. Aerts
5 🇧🇪 M. Vanthourenhout
6 🇬🇧 Turner
7 🇳🇱 Van der Haar
8 🇧🇪 Adams
9 🇧🇪 L. Sweeck
10 🇧🇪 Meeusen
➡️ Results: https://t.co/CPGrtsTthm
— Cyclocross24.com (@cyclocross24) January 1, 2022