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"I felt that Wout was the strongest man in the race. I did not want to blow myself up and I decided to wait until the last lap.”










18.12.2016 @ 17:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On Sunday, Mathieu van der Poel didn’t seem to be the strongest man in the race in Namur, but he still won the race. “Today I did not feel great," he admitted. “Hence, I preferred not to make a solo raid and I focused fully on the final lap. It worked out.”


Van der Poel: Van Aert was the strongest

Wout van Aert got bach three times after crashes or mistakes and in the end he climbed faster than van der Poel whenever they hit the small ascents but with an attack on a small climb, the Dutch champion took his thirteenth victory. 


"I have to be honest," van der Poel told Het Nieuwsblad. "I soon had the feeling that I was not good enough to ride alone in the lead. Wout even managed to close a gap of twenty seconds. I felt that Wout was the strongest man in the race. I did not want to blow myself up and I decided to wait until the last lap.”


Whenever they passed the small climb, van der Poel jumped off the bike but in the end he sprinted uphill and he left Van Aert behind. 


"It always took a lot of strength to ride up," he said, "so I did that section on the feet, but when I rode behind Wout in the final laps, I saw that it was possible and it would be a decisive section in the final lap. And it turned out that way, I dropped him."


With two wins, van der Poel has a nice weekend. 


"It's wonderful to win such a race, a great weekend, but I also realize that we really are close. Now we have a busy period with many races and I hope to win a few.”


Van Aert: Van der Poel was not better than me

"During the warm-up, the section where I crashed was still dry but during the race it was more slippery and therefore more difficult. After my first crash, it was stupid to to try to sprint there for the second time. Nothing was lost, but I made a stupid mistake again, "said Wout Van Aert.


After his second crash in the same place, Van Aertdecided to tackle the strip along the other side. 


"That was my own decision. If you crash in the same place twice, you know you have to try the other side. I should not have made the mistakes I made in the race. I was as good as Mathieu today, but I could not keep it upright. "


Van Aert remains in first place in the World Cup ranking.


Pauwels: Every week the distance gets smaller

Kevin Pauwels finished third.


"Every week, the difference to the two is reduced," he said. "I hope to be even closer next week. I hope to improve by a few percent. Today I did not feel as well as yesterday in Antwerp and because of my bad start, I had to chase. But it was a race where you had to ride at your own pace. I almost came back to the two leaders in the end which is good. Even though I also knew that when they were going to accelerate, I would be dropped.


"I knew in advance that I could at best claim third place, but third place is still honorable."


Sweeck: I am in my place

Laurens Sweeck finished fifth.


"I am very pleased with fifth place," he said in a statement. "I think I am in my place. With a better start, however, I could have fought with Meeusen for fourth place. In the second half of the race, I deliberately got dropped when Kevin Pauwels attacked. I wanted to set my own pace and it was enough to finish fifth."



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