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"Gosh, it went so fast, we were all equally matched. I soon realized that it was not of much use to ride away. That last lap was crucial. It was a duel on the cutting edge."








17.12.2016 @ 18:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After an exciting race in Antwerp, Mathieu van der Poel waited until the final lap to create the decisive gap. Wout Van Aert was disappointed with his second place. “It is too bad that I had to give up in the final section. As opposed to this, Kevin Pauwels was very happy with his third place. "I have done my best race of the season here,” he said.


Mathieu van der Poel: I knew it would be decided in the last lap

That it was a sharp battle was evident in the interview with the winner afterwards. Mathieu van der Poel was still breathing heavily when he was asked by Sporza. 


"It was a long race," he said after the 12 laps. “After two laps, I heard from my father that it would be a long race. And he was right."


Did he hold something back because of this? 


"Gosh, it went so fast, we were all equally matched. I soon realized that it was not of much use to ride away. That last lap was crucial. It was a duel on the cutting edge," he said the fight with Van Aert at the end.


In the last lap, Van der Poel cut off Van Aert  in a bend, a clever maneuver. 


"It had to happen there," nodded the Dutch champion. "We knew that the one who was sitting in front, had the best chance, especially with the sand section. If you then make a mistake, it's not as bad when you are in front.”


In the penultimate lap, Van Aert made another clever move. After he had passed Pauwels in a corner, Pauwels made a mistake. 


"Yes, that was very clever of Wout" Van der Poel grinned. But the Dutch champion could still come back and eventually won an exciting duel.


Wout Van Aert: I am still a bit disappointed

Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Kevin Pauwels made it exciting until the end but the result was disappointing for Van Aert.


“Yes, it is still disappointing to have to give up in the last sections," he told Sporza. "I did a good race, but also felt that it was about the details if you wanted to get away."


In the last stretch of sand on the last lap, Van Aert and van der Poel battled it out. No one wanted to give up. 


"We both accelerated there and in the running section we had to try to recover. Mathieu then suddenly got twenty meters, but I could not get back.”


Van Aert also thought it was a hard and long race. The world champion was convinced that they could have done one lap lees. 


"I was shocked that it was 12 lap, 11 had also been good," he smiled. "It was an enormous amount of laps and it discourages some to take control of the race."


On Sunday, a tough race in Namur is on the menur. After such a difficult race in Antwerp, Van Aert also hopes to be good there. 


"Hopefully I can recover enough for tomorrow. Everyone has given the best of themselves here. I do not think anyone has spared themselves. Tomorrow we are all at the start in Namur with the same weapons,” concluded the world champion who had to be content with second place.


Delighted Kevin Pauwels: This was my best race so far

Until the final lap, Kevin Pauwels was in contention for the win – a feeling he had missed for some time the Belgian admitted after the race.


"Here it was my best race of the season so far. I was there until the last lap, but the sand and running sections were too much."


Would more have been possible without the final sand section?


"Maybe," Pauwels said. "But I don’t know whether that would have made the difference."


When Wout Van Aert went into a bend in the penultimate lap, Pauwels made a mistake. 


"Then it was difficult in the running section because he is faster there. Also the next section was difficult for me."


Yet Pauwels felt really good on the beach in Sint-Anneke. 


"I had hoped that they would let me ride away, but they were also aware that I was good so that did not happen. For a moment I was still hoping that they would doubt, but no. Whether those two will be in doubt somewhere this season? It will be difficult to get them out of their momentum,” he concluded.



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