Wout Van Aert of Jumbo Visma celebrates winning the UCI cyclo-cross event at Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho He started the race billed as one of the top favourites, crashed once in the warm-up, almost fell a second time when his shoulder collided with a fence post early on and lost more time when a mechanic’s cloth became entangled in his gear mechanism. But Wout van Aert romped to a stunning win at the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup in Dublin on Sunday.
The Belgian is a three-time world champion in the discipline. He is also one of the most accomplished road race competitors in the sport, winning nine career stages in the Tour de France plus this year’s green jersey. That strength was to the fore again at the Sport Ireland campus course, with Van Aert shrugging off those two race incidents to blitz his competitors in the sandpit section on the penultimate lap.
Powering clear there and on the following hill, he steadily gained time and reached the finish 14 seconds clear of fellow Belgian Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) and 17 in front of world champion Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers).
“I kept quite calm,” he said, speaking about the moment his gears were jammed. “It was also because they were not really full-on attacking in the front. Quite soon after I realised I still had the chance. It’s always important to keep calm in cross because anything can happen.”
Like the eight other Irish riders in the race, national under-23 road […]
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