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"Last year I did not know what I was facing. Now I know more about that pressure as top favorite. This year I also want to win but I feel more ready than last year."




07.01.2016 @ 18:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

All cyclo-cross riders seem to agree: Wout van Aert is the big favorite for Sunday's Belgian Championships. But what about Van Aert himself? "I know I can deal with the race in various ways. Other riders have fewer options," he says confidently.



Last year Wout van Aert was the big favorite for the Belgian Championships, but Vastgoedservice leader had a really bad day and lots of bad luck in Erpe-Mere.


"Now it's quite different," Van Aert tells Sporza. "Last year I did not know what I was facing. Now I know more about that pressure as top favorite. This year I also want to win but I feel more ready than last year."


In almost every event, Van Aert has tried to take the race into his own hands as quickly as possible and to crush the opposition. "Like Mathieu van der Poel, I can just go full gas from start to finish.


"On Sunday that may again be my tactics, but I can just as well win from a sprint. I know I can tackle the course in different ways and that gives me confidence. Other riders have fewer options.


"But on Sunday there will be a different approach from many riders because in a championship race the past few weeks are suddenly forgotten. In another race they will maybe focus on second place earlier but that will not happen at the Belgian Championships. Therefore it can be more exciting than normal. "


Wout van Aert has a chance to take his first Belgian drikleur in the pro ranks in his hometown Lille. According to several rivals, the course is tailor-made for him but the local rider denies that suggestion.


"I won't say it's my favorite course because I prefer a clay and big climbs. But I've always performed well here and I can handle this. Although the course is harder than it looks."


Does Van Aert feel much pressure? "I don't have to win on Sunday but I put myself under the pressure that I have to succeed at least once. I want it myself, perhaps more than anybody else. But I have a lot of chances. If it is not possible on Sunday, then the sun will come out again on Monday and we can look forward to the Worlds.


"People always say that such a championship race is like any other race but that's not the case. I have thought about it for weeks which I haven't done when it comes to a race in, for example, Otegem.


"I will try to apply the same tactics. And if it fails the first time, I'll try again. I must try to make it happen on Sunday."



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