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Wout van Aert Wins the World Cup in Zonhoven Sandpit: ‘It was definitely a hard hike’

By Monica Buck

The Belgian rode solo for five laps, claiming the win in a stunning fashion. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) finished second with time to spare before the rest of the favourites arrived. Laurens Sweeck (Crelans-Fristads) claimed the final podium spot to increase his lead in the World Cup.

“It was definitely a hard hike,” Van Aert joked after the finish. “It was really tough, with an extra time through the Kuil. For me, I also liked the extra uphill section, running. This is definitely more spectacular.”

“I was able to benefit from the mistakes Mathieu made. He suddenly fell in front of me and then I was able to make a big gap. The lead surprised me a bit,” Van Aert said. “Now it is important for me to rest well, tomorrow, I will leave for a camp with the team. I need miles in the sun to get that real acceleration back.”

The expected battle between Van Aert and Van der Poel was cut short by Van der Poel’s prevailing back problems. After the race, Van der Poel said his feelings were “not good”.

“I just think it’s really hard to focus. The only thing I’m thinking about is my back and it’s hurting,” Van der Poel admitted at the finish. “You have to be 100% focused on the course and I’m just not able to. I can maybe ride half a lap as I want, then I have to hold back because of the pain. It’s super frustrating.”

Does this mean Van Aert will win the February world championships? What do you think?

2023 CX – Zonhoven

1. Wout van Aert (BEL) – 58:49
2. Mathieu van der Poel (NED) + 01:23
3. Laurens Sweeck (BEL) + 01:31
4. Michael Vanthourenhout (BEL) + 02:02
5. Quinten Hermans (BEL) + 02:08
6. Lars van der Haar (NED) + 02:17
7. Niels Vandeputte (BEL) + 02:37
8. Jens Adams (BEL) + 02:49
9. Kevin Kuhn (SUI) + 03:01
10. Corne van Kessel (NED) + 03:14