In the absence of Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert was the runaway favourite for Superprestige Gullegem on Saturday, and the Belgian champion duly lived up to his billing with a dominant solo victory.
After winning in Koksijde on Thursday, the Jumbo-Visma rider had noted that he been spurred on by the sound of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ blaring over the public address system. In Gullegem, unsurprisingly, the disc jockey also delved into his record collection for The Boss’ tunes.
“But now it’s no longer original. They have to come up with something new,” Van Aert joked to Sporza (opens in new tab). “I’m going to think about it for the next cross, but I prefer to focus on the sport itself.”
Regardless of the musical accompaniment, Van Aert’s superiority was never in any doubt on Saturday. The Jumbo-Visma rider tracked the early accelerations before making a move of his own near the midway point, dropping his rivals one by one on a course rendered treacherous by incessant rain.
“It had become very technical because of the rain,” Van Aert said. “I would have liked to have stayed in the wheels for a bit longer, but it was actually much more difficult there. At one point I felt that I would do better if I could take my own lines and then I just tried to keep going.”
Van Aert, who recorded his seventh win of the cyclocross campaign with 22 seconds to spare over Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and 41 over Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), was succinct when asked about the absent Van der Poel and Pidcock. “You have to beat the riders that are there,” said Van Aert, who has been the dominant force on the cyclocross circuit over the Christmas period.
“The last two weeks went very well. I had some nice victories. Especially in the Superprestige, like the race in Diegem, which was always difficult for me to win. But this winter I succeeded. Here in Gullegem, I’ve also won for the first time, so I’m very happy with that.”
Van Aert will be in action once more on Sunday, when he lines out at the Zonhoven World Cup, where Van der Poel will be among his competitors.
The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider complained of back pain in Koksijde on Thursday, but Het Laatste Nieuws reported on Saturday that he would be on the start line in Zonhoven.
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