🎥 Many podiums, few victories: Wout van Aert's comebacks in cyclocross listed Cycling

🎥 Many podiums, few victories: Wout van Aert's comebacks in cyclocross listed

🎥 Many podiums, few victories: Wout van Aert's comebacks in cyclocross listed

This Saturday signifies Wout van Aert's eagerly anticipated return to cyclocross. The 29-year-old Belgian from Jumbo-Visma will kick off his season with the Exact Cross in Essen, the first of a total of eight races. But how has Van Aert performed in recent years upon his comeback to the muddy terrain? IDLProCycling.com has compiled a list of his previous performances in cyclocross over the past five years.

2018: Van Aert impresses but has to beat Van der Haar in Geraardsbergen after bad luck

As the reigning world champion in cyclocross, Van Aert kicked off his season in Geraardsbergen on September 16, 2018. The world champion showcased impressive form and appeared well on his way to victory in the absence of Mathieu Van der Poel until a hard crash, resulting from a steering error three laps from the end. Following the fall, his gears also malfunctioned, forcing Van Aert to undertake a lengthy run towards the material zone. Seizing the opportunity, Lars Van der Haar surged past the Belgian to take the lead. Nevertheless, Van Aert remained undeterred and fought back to within ten seconds of the Dutchman. Unfortunately, a second fall shattered his comeback hopes. His then teammate, Daan Soete, secured the third spot on the podium.

Read more below the video.

De finish op de Muur in Geraardsbergen

2019: No high expectations in Loenhout after a severe crash in the Tour, but still an impressive fifth place

In 2019, Van Aert didn't have high expectations for his comeback. Following his significant crash in the Tour de France during the time trial in and around Pau, he returned to the starting line for Azencross in Loenhout on December 27, 2019. Van Aert, making his first appearance in the Jumbo-Visma outfit, had a rocky start as he witnessed world champion Van der Poel tumble over his handlebars on the bridge in the opening lap. Despite this, the Dutchman maintained his composure, worked his way through the entire field, and went on to secure a solo victory in Antwerp. Van Aert took a more cautious approach and eventually finished fifth, trailing Van der Poel by a good minute. Eli Iserbyt and Corné van Kessel completed the podium, while Tim Merlier sprinted out of the Jumbo-Visma Belgian's wheel to secure fourth place.

Read more below the video.

Van der Poel wint de X2O in Kortrijk, Van Aert finisht als vijfde

2020: Van Aert back on the podium in Kortrijk after a successful 'spring' on the road

Van Aert had a remarkably successful corona year with victories in Milan-Sanremo and the Strade Bianche. Due to the global pandemic, the cyclocross season transformed into an extension of the "spring classics," taking place from August to October. Similar to two years prior, Van Aert didn't have to contend with his Dutch counterpart, but the rest of the field faced a challenging X2O Trophy in Kortrijk. The Kempenaar didn't start off well on November 28 but had to concede to the dominance of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal. Michael Vanthourenhout was poised for victory after an early breakaway until a flat tire interrupted his long solo effort. On the "Swaffel Bridge," Van Aert encountered a tough moment, allowing then-European champion Eli Iserbyt to accelerate like a spear and cross the finish line alone. Eventually, Lars van der Haar claimed the second position ahead of Van Aert.

Read more below the video.

Van Aert komt als derde over de streep in de X2O in Kortrijk

2021: Van Aert outclasses everyone in Superprestige Boom

Van Aert experienced his most successful comeback in 2021. On December 4th, in the Superprestige in Boom, Van Aert encountered a new competitor in the absence of Van der Poel: Tom Pidcock. The 22-year-old Brit initially held his own with the Belgian champion in the field, with the emphasis on "initially." On a steep incline, Van Aert distanced everyone on the second lap, asserting his dominance. Despite a crash, he established a substantial lead of almost two minutes over the rest. Toon Aerts and Van der Haar secured second and third places, respectively, at a comfortable distance.

Read more below the video.

Van Aert is wel de sterkste in 2021 in Boom

2022: Van der Poel remains Van Aert's nemesis, even in Antwerp

Last year, on December 4th, both Van der Poel and Van Aert competed in the World Cup race in Antwerp. For the Dutchman, it was already his third cyclocross of the season, following victories in the World Cup in Hulst and a thirteenth-place finish in Boom. Van Aert launched from the second row like a comet on the beach of Sint-Anneke, but Van der Poel quickly countered, leaving Van Aert and company behind. The Dutchman skillfully navigated through the Antwerp sand, ultimately securing victory with a margin of more than twenty seconds over the Belgian. Vanthourenhout finished a commendable third, ten seconds later.

Read more below the video.

Van der Poel snelt Van Aert uit het wiel in Antwerpen

2023: ?

Van Aert will take the start in Essen as one of the tremendous favorites. The Baloise Trek Lions, with Pim Ronhaar, Van der Haar, Thibau Nys, and Joris Nieuwenhuis, are currently on a training camp in sunny Spain. Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, represented by Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout, and Corelan-Corendon, with Laurens Sweeck, have opted for the World Cup in Italy's Val di Sole a day later. Consequently, Van Aert's primary competitor is Jens Adams, who is enjoying a successful cyclocross campaign with several top-ten finishes. Additionally, Daan Soete, Lander Loockx, and Tom Meeusen are also hopeful for a close place of honor. Therefore, a scenario similar to Boom two years ago is entirely plausible.

schermafbeelding 2023 01 08 om 161555
Will Van Aert also appear with a smile after the finish in Essen on Saturday?

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