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"It was a very difficult race because I come from a heavy training week. That's why I'm very happy with my performance."










24.01.2016 @ 19:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mathieu van der Poel confirmed his status as the overwhelming favourite for next week’s World Championships when he crushed the opposition in today’s final World Cup race on home soil in Hoogerheide. The world champion rode away already in the first lap and increased his advantage during the rest of the race to take a dominant win. Wout Van Aert beat Kevin Pauwels in the battle for second place and secured himself a comfortable overall World Cup victory.

We have gathered a few reactions.


Van der Poel: After such a week, this is a great result

Mathieu van der Poel was surprised after the race. "It was a very difficult race because I come from a heavy training week. That's why I'm very happy with my performance."


He has emerged as the Worlds favorite: "But I will not be the only favorite. Next week is also another course. This week I will take it easy and I hope for the super compensation next Sunday."


Van der Poel was in a class of his own even though Hoogerheide doesn't suit him. "This is not my favorite course, but if I am doing well, I have to handle eveything. That's why I am a cross rider. Last year I had a great day here but not today. Hopefully, I will have one next week. I'm already going to sleep with a good feeling. "


Van Aert: Van der Poel is the big favourite for the Worlds

"I would have prefered the gap to Mathieu to be smaller," said Wout van Aert after his second place in Hoogerheide, 48 seconds behind winner Mathieu van der Poel. "After this race, I think it is clear that Mathieu is the top favorite for the Worlds in Heusden-Zolder more than ever."


Van Aert got the final victory in the World Cup but he would have liked to be closer in Hoogerheide. "On a course like today which is good for me, I should usually be stronger than Mathieu, but apparently he has also made a lot of progress. He's just very strong. I felt immediately at the start of the race that I could not follow him. He is the great favorite next week."


Yet Van Aert does not give up without a fight and he travels to the Worlds with confidence. "The Belgian title has done me a lot of good and given me confidence. I have to put my performance of last week and today into perspective. I have two hard training weeks in Spain behind me. I am not at my best level, but I hope that is the case next week. My season doesn't hunge completely on that world title. I have three trophies: the Bpost Bank Trofeee, the Belgian title and the Worlds.


"Because of my victory I can take Tim Merlier to the Worlds. I'm glad I will have my own teammate in Zolder as I know him well." The country of the World Cup winner may indeed select seven instead of six riders.


"Everyone - me too - came up short against Van der Poel. Of course our training camp in Spain is still in the legs, but I had hoped that I would have been at a good level today. It was not as it should be. Apparently I needed a little more recovery. That's a pity."


"This course here is not comparable to Zolder, where it is much faster. I have not prepared for this tough course but I've been saying for a long time that Mathieu is the only top favorite for next weekend. I hope to be closer to him and make it hard for him. Then perhaps there is something possible."


Teammate Merlier will start his first World Championships: "I want to help Van Aert in the beginning. That's my job after having trained very hard in Spain. We are on track and I will be fine for next week. We're counting on super compensation," he told Sporza.


Pauwels: I am happy to be co-leader for the Worlds

Kevin Pauwels has had problems with his back, but it was not easy to notice any kind of suffering in the heavy race in Hoogerheide. "I still had more pain than expected. It is not bad, but it could be better. I suffer in my spine, but the tough course obviously played a role in that," he told Sporza.


What does he want to improve for Zolder? "I hope to be as good as I was at my last World Cup and dream of the Worldspodium. I'm glad that I don't have to work for Van Aert as I am the second leader. It will be hard to beat Van der Poel."



Nys: I am not good enough

Sven Nys was excited before the race. In this heavy race, he hoped for the podium which would be the only sign that would make him believe that he could be in contention at Worlds.


But after the race - in which he was more than three minutes behind in 13th - he didn't have much fun. "I'm just not good enough, I had expected more," he told Sporza.


"This was a very fair course and all the riders in front of me were just better. I have to accept that. I have no illusions for next week. I will do my best to help the team. I am not in podium contention. I cannot change things in seven days."


How does Nys think that van der Poel can be beaten? "It will not be easy, he is the big favorite and has not lost for a month. When he is so good on this course, it will not be any easier next weekend.


"But a championship is another race. There is more nervousness and it is ridden differently. Wout should rely on his own strength."



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