Mathieu van der Poel says the rivalry between himself and Wout van Aert will probably be ‘one thing particular’ to look again on on the finish of their careers.
There was little to separate the rivals on Sunday as Van der Poel beat Van Aert in a dash end at Hoogerheide to win the elite males’s 2023 UCI Cyclocross World Championship.
It was the Dutchman’s fifth elite world title and the ultimate trade of the cyclocross season earlier than the pair return to battle on the highway through the Spring Classics. As compared, Van Aert has three elite ‘cross world crowns and was overwhelmed into second by his rival for the fourth time.
“I feel for those who take one among us two away, then it makes the races much less attention-grabbing for certain,” mentioned a delighted Van der Poel. “It was an excellent battle towards Wout who is admittedly laborious to beat, so I’m completely happy.
“It’s higher already for a few years of cyclocross and the highway, there’s all the time respect between us. Perhaps you don’t recognize it typically if you get overwhelmed however after our profession it will likely be one thing particular to look again on.”
Each riders tried to assault their rival through the race, with their opponent responding every time. On the ultimate lap most individuals anticipated Van der Poel to launch his bid for glory on the barrier part, which he was visibly faster over than Van Aert. Nonetheless, the Dutchman left in till the ultimate uphill dash to the road and had sufficient to energy previous the Belgian.
“I didn’t actually make a plan upfront as a result of I by no means do it after which Lars [Van der Haar] did a quick opening lap and I felt actually good so I simply went on the toughest a part of the course,” added Van der Poel.
“It was good that there was two of us instantly, as a result of we didn’t must combat for place right this moment. It was already fairly apparent that I wasn’t going to drop him and the opposite manner round. I attempted a few occasions, all people anticipated me to attempt one thing on the limitations however I wished to be second after we entered the end straight. I don’t assume in 10 or 15 metres I’d take sufficient to drop him, so he can be in my wheel on the stairs once more, he would have the benefit. That was my plan.
“I attempted to place some stress on typically [over the barriers] however it’s not as if Wout wasn’t capable of bounce them. If he received off the bike then you may actually do one thing. He was additionally actually quick getting on the wheel so it made no sense to attempt one thing there. The opposite a part of the course was tougher.”
Van der Poel got here out second to Van Aert on 5 events because the pair battled through the Christmas interval together with Tom Pidcock.
After a heavy spell of racing the Dutchman noticed the re-emergence of his again grievance after operating by the sand at Zonhoven and took a break from cyclocross to arrange for the World Championships.
“Everyone mentioned through the Christmas interval that Wout was stronger than I used to be,” mentioned Van der Poel. “The second I left for Spain I attempted to show a change on and concentrate on this race. I wanted two or three weeks to actually work on it [back], get some remedy and do a whole lot of train.
“It was quiet for me, reasonably than being on my bike or doing another coaching I used to be within the health club nearly day by day which was mandatory.”
Regardless of being topped cyclocross world champion, Van der Poel mentioned meaning nothing when he begins his Classics marketing campaign at Strade Bianche.
The Dutch star’s highway season will embody Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Van der Poel mentioned he’s focusing on ‘all of them’ and that his cyclocross world title will imply nothing subsequent month.
He added: “That’s all the time the case for each rider because it’s solely 5 or 6 races so we attempt to be the most effective we are able to.
“It’s very nice to grow to be world champion however it isn’t something to do with the highway season. You begin once more from zero and I’m going to try to do some good races within the highway season.”