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02.12.2016 @ 13:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel have divided the wins this season in the races of the major cyclo-cross series. What is it like to fight for the crumbs? "I can live with that," European champion Toon Aerts, one of two riders to have beaten the pair, told Sporza. "I keep trying," Laurens Sweeck who has been on the podium six times, added.


Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel have left very little to the rest of the peloton which is riding for third place.


"It is always beautiful to be on the podium ant it better than fourth place," said Laurens Sweeck who has been closest to the two main riders.


"At some point you have to be satisfied with that, but you can’t start a race with that mindset. I'm trying to keep up with them for as long as possible. I'll keep trying."


"It is the law of sport. Some are born with more talent than others," added Tom Meeusen.


"I can follow for several laps which gives a boost. The more I ride, the more confident I get.


"Those guys ride so hard. It's impossible to keep up with them. We have to add a few percentages. I also have to do that.”


"I have been riding against them since I was in the youth ranks,” said Toon Aerts. "For a couple of years, they have been stronger than me. I had that in mind when I trained this summer. I can live with that."


At the European Championship, he beat Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel.


"I'm glad that I have won a race with the two at the start. I'm proud of that," he said. "The peloton slowed down. I can beat them with a smart move."


Aerts settles for third without problems. "I know who my direct competitors are. I try to focus on them. A race is a success if I finish with the riders of my level."


"A third place almost feels like a victory," said Kevin Pauwels.


"I suspect that they will both remain strong. I hope that I can improve a bit, but even in top form I will not reach the level of Mathieu."


Like his teammate Michael Vanthournhout, Pauwels has been on the podium three times. "When you are on the podium, you feel that you are the best of the rest. We race for third place," Vanthourenhout admitted.


"That's quite annoying. You are still at the start to win. Maybe we should count on an off-day for Mathieu and Wout. That is also part of cyclo-cross.


"And this season, I have already beaten Wout (in Kruibeke, ed)."


"As a U23 rider, I also ride against Wout and Mathieu. Then it ws all about third place,” says Gianni Vermeersch. "They are head and shoulders above the rest. Their duels are great for cyclo-cross


"If there is a way to beat them, it is through mechanicals. You don’t wish that for anyone. They need to have a bad day and look too much at each other."



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