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Cyclocross

Wout van Aert unstoppable at Superprestige Heusden-Zolder

Van Aert maintains 100 percent record for the season while van der Poel struggles and abandons.

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There’s no stopping Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) this winter.

The Belgian champ continued his unbeaten start to the season with another long solo to take victory in the Heusden-Zolder round of the Superprestige series Monday. The win now sees van Aert on five victories for the 2021-22 calendar after making his ‘cross debut at the turn of this month.

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) outsprinted Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) in the race for second, more than one minute back on the Belgian baller.

Iserbyt’s third place saw him extend his lead over fifth-place finisher Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek Lions) in the Superprestige GC.

Mathieu van der Poel’s race followed an opposite trajectory to that of archrival van Aert after he made a searing start to his season at Dendermonde on Sunday. The Alpecin-Fenix superstar lost contact with a chase group in the middle of the race and suffered through a handful of laps, losing time with every section.

He eventually abandoned on lap seven of nine.

Van Aert was near-faultless in his second win in two days.

“I had a perfect start and immediately had the right feeling,” he said. “I tried to make the difference and saw that Mathieu had no good start. Soon I had a gap and rode my own race.”

The historic Zolder circuit typically comes down to riders racing in small pelotons, but van Aert ripped up that script Monday.

Van Aert, Quinten Hermans (Tormans-Circus) and Daan Soete (CX Team Deschacht) led the bunch through the opening lap, while van der Poel and Pidcock struggled to move up from the middle of the grid.

Van der Poel jumped across a sizable gap to join a small group including Pidcock at the front of the race in lap two. Meanwhile, relentless pressure from van Aert saw him, Hermans and Aerts detach off the front of the field.

Van Aert’s long solo started when Aerts and Hermans got caught up in a small crash, giving him the space to start motoring. The Belgian champ blazed through the middle of the race, putting more than 40 seconds into a Pidcock-led chase group.

While van Aert was roaring, van der Poel started to suffer.

The world champ was forced to remount on a small climb on lap three and looked uncomfortable as he struggled to regain contact with the main group. Van der Poel slowly slid down the field while Iserbyt, Pidcock and Hermans split off the group in an attempt to pull back the rampaging van Aert.

An ashen-faced van der Poel eventually climbed off the bike on lap seven.

Van Aert was relentless and continued to extend his lead with every lap until he slid out on a fast technical section on lap six.

He was quick to remount but looked to ease off the gas slightly in the remaining circuits as he controlled his one-minute lead over Pidcock, Iserbyt and Hermans.

Van Aert took his time to relish the victory on the long final straight before celebrating with his family and baby son in the finish paddock.

Pidcock and Iserbyt remained locked together through the final after dropping Hermans on lap eight. The two were archrivals through their years at U23 level and were inseparable until the final sprint. Iserbyt was forced to lead out the final kick and Pidcock came around him in the final meters to claim second.

Van Aert is currently not slated to be racing the Fayetteville worlds late January, but claims he will reconsider after the Belgian nationals in the middle of next month.

Maybe if he keeps winning races, he will decide a trip to the States is a good idea.