Mathieu Van der Poel deserved better. An hour after the cross, Mathieu Van der Poel left the press conference and passed by Niels Albert whom he had called #janker on Twitter [“#whiner”, that is], how ironic. Van der Poel gave him the hand, congratulated and resumed crying.
The biggest disappointment in my life. Since I started my career, I’ve never been so upset. I felt I was stronger when I was in Wout’s wheels. After the first two punctures I still had a gap ahead of Wout. That says something. After the third time he came back but I still believed I would win.
About the fourth puncture:
It was still very far from the pit. I knew it was done. Not only did Wout have an immediate 20” lead. I also wasted an awful lot of strength because of the fact I had to ride on a flat tire.
Mathieu had doubts about his rival making a better tire choice:
In Namur there are also hundreds of stones in half the route. I rode there with the same tyres and I did not puncture. This is simply a lot of bad luck. That’s why it’s so painful.
Then the paragraph about Mathieu still posing for photographs with kids, which really touched me.
Van Aert was not unfortunate with his second rainbow jersey in a row, that would be over the top but it’s the way he did it:
I had never let Mathieu Van der Poel behind me had he not punctured. This I do deplore.
About whether he won with his legs or his tyres:
Both. If you have good tyres but bad legs you don’t win. Punctures are always a matter of bad luck. I had a slight advantage with my tyres but you can never predict it. Bad luck for Mathieu, thus.
Two years ago Wout rode for the first time with these tubes at the Worlds in Tabor [when Mathieu was World Champion, thus]. They felt good on a frozen soil with a mud layer on it.
We saw the weather forecast and thought that it was possible to use them again because the ground looked like Tabor’s. You have more traction with it. During the reco I compared it with normal mud tyres. They felt soft and I feared that I could easily puncture. Then I chose for the green ones. Even though they were harder to ride.
Niels suggested to stick those tyres on wheels so that I could try them on the route. I have to thank him for that. Not just for that. He’s always next to me in my trainings. He’s helped me mentally when last week I had to keep away from the bike. I have to thank him for each of my wins.
I have to be honest I only could keep Mathieu behind me after his puncture. It’s not the way I wanted to be World Champion but on the other hand it’s impossible not to be happy with this jersey.
Wout had no more problem with his knee. He knew that but he feared that he had come to the Worlds without top form but he has to say he was good.
He also said that last year was in Belgium and there was a huge atmosphere but in Luxembourg there was also a lot of atmosphere.
After his poor start he started to fear and when Mathieu had a 16” lead after the first lap he no longer believed in victory. He needed the first lap to get rhythm and then self-confidence came back. It mattered a lot to him that he should fight till the very last meters. He had no idea about his form level, so give full gas for an hour and see the outcome.
About the Twitter war with Mathieu and Kevin he argues that it was good for him that that happened. Maybe it made him stronger. Now he doesn’t find it important to talk about last week’s “commotion.” (The journalist argues that Mathieu & Kevin have sparked that Twitter war but the truth is that Kevin has never attacked Wout, the reverse cannot be said. Though I haven’t followed that joust very closely, not that it matters, to be honest. Anyway, Wout said “Sorry Kevin”, it was the headline of Het Laatste Nieuws on Tuesday, so the case is closed)
Then a little nuance about the bonus offered by the Belgian federation. He will share it with all the teammates because it cannot be any different but normally a World Champion gives something extra and that will only be with Tim Merlier who did his best for him because he got this title without help from other Belgians.
Niels Albert [quite arrogantly
I told Wout: “I think, you do”
Albert fetched 10 year old tyres from his cellar.
While his opponents punctured like flies Van Aert only had to change bike once after a tyre break. He rode on modern tubes on which an old Michelin mud-typed profile was stuck.
A tyre that used to be very coveted but which is now no longer used
says national coach Rudy De Bie.
The main asset is that the rubber of the profile is harder than today’s rubbers. That way stones can less quickly make holes. The disadvantage is that you need to push harder in order to move forward as quickly but Van Aert has power. He can manage it.
The tyres stayed for ten long years in Niels Albert’s cellar. The time was right to bring them back up.
I knew that the Worlds route was on an old stone quarry and that if it melted the stones would come in the way. These tyres were partly a bet but it’s my task to make key decisions
Dutch colleagues informed Het Laatste Nieuws that Adrie Van der Poel […] also has such tyres at home but apparently he didn’t use them. But Adrie throws the issue to the dustbin
This is interesting doing. Van Aert raced with the same tyres as Mathieu. Only his were green and Mathieu’s were black.
[Weird comment by such an experienced rider !!]
Albert understands Mathieu Van der Poel’s frustration, says that he felt great and had a lot of bad luck but he refuses to acknowledge that Mathieu was the stronger rider.
The winner is always right. It’s the game
The equipment choice is also a part of the sport. Albert admits that he didn’t know how decisive the tyres would have been but he did consciously wait for the right moment to use them.
On the stone route of Namur they could already have served but if you want something to have effect, you need to wait for a special day.
It was also a psychological placebo. Van Aert probably rode 1kmh faster in the knowledge that he had a special weapon. Albert says that you win a race in the mind and those tyres probably gave Wout a boost. He’s proud of it and is gonna ask Wout if he could hang his bike with tyres in his own bike shop. Pauwels Takes Bronze: “Glad that the Worlds are Over
Pauwels seemed relieved after his most hectic World Championship week and yet he got his 5th bronze medal which he had hoped for.
These words were related to the Twitter war after he published his form of a negative dope test which made “a snowball roll” and got Van Aert to make brutal remarks. But at the press conference they seemed to sit brotherly next to each other and it was as though Pauwels got a thank from Van Aert but Kevin doubted that Van Aert had thought about it during the race (and that it gave him an extra boost!).
He won the title all by himself. He’s a superb rider, not an ordinary one.
There wasn’t much more he could do, he said. Against Van der Poel and Van Aert he comes too short. [I remember that in the post interview he denied he might have won without the punctures. He said he would have come closer but that was it.]She’s Already Known for 20 Year that She Would be the Best Someday
Sanne Cant is the first Belgian Woman Cyclocross World Champion.
I hope that it can inspire young girls to also go crossing. Ten years ago the Belgian women’s cross standard was very low but it’s changed a lot since then. The prize money has gone up, we no longer start at 9.30 am and the spectators are no longer laughing at us. Almost as many viewers are watching women’s cyclocross as men’s cyclocross.
[I remember seeing how excited Laura Verdonschot was on the Sporza TV set when she saw Sanne winning, talking of inspiration for the youth !]
The Cant family are cycling freak, always have been: three racing brothers & sister, two uncles who are also crossing along with their children.
Her father Gino:
Sanne was still just a baby when we brought her to uncle Rudy’s races. She was still sitting in a carrier bag on the chest.
He would rather have made football players out of his sons but the balls were in the garden only in order to cycle around. Six years later Sanne crossed herself in the Netherlands because in Belgium you only could start racing when you are aged 12. She won, even against boys, which gave her some filthy looks from dropped boys.
Her older brother Kevin (aged 28) said he only started at age 8:
When Sanne was old enough she raced along right away. Nobody found it weird. There were other racing girls.
In 2008 the whole family was shining in Belgian champion jersey. The uncle Rudy Sels won the race for seniors, his daughter Loes Sels in the elite category and the very young Sanne Cant was the best in the youth category [the two cousins are on the picture – after the event - of the first scan, lower left corner]. Four years later, Sanne Cant was again Belgian Champion while Kevin won the nats in the amateur elite category.
Kevin argued that that was really hectic for their father who was their mechanic and after each cross he had to rush to the car to take the reserve bikes for the following rider who had to race. So after a Koppenberg Cross he had to climb the hill up and down three times with the bikes and other equipments all in spans of half an hour. Their mother was their soigneur who was always ready after races with dry clothes, something to drink and a hug. She still does it. She was first to stand by Sanne after the Worlds.
Their whole lives were dedicated to cycling, further says Kevin. Racing at weekends, training and cleaining or fixing bikes during the week. In the whole house there was a place dedicated to racing – special places where they could roll, a garage full of bikes and wheels and there always hung clothes to dry up.
Kevin Cant is still racing at local level, the so-called “De Moedige Veldrijder” Challenge [“The Brave Cyclocrosser”] but within one month he stops definitively. Their younger brother Jelle (aged 24) has given up his job at the ice-cream producer Ijsboerke in order to become a pro road rider.
Kevin has no problem with Sanne being the star of the family. When he realised that he could not do what Sanne could (turning pro), he chose to eclipse in her favour. He was her training mate in Benicassim, Spain, two weeks ago and even if she is a woman she rode very hard uphill so that he could not climb whistling. He works as a mechanic for her team and for Mathieu Van der Poel [both are racing for the same team Beobank].
I started racing at age 6. That is 20 years ago. I’ve dreamt that long to become World Champion. I needed fortitude to fulfill it. I think I’ve grown up with the cross. It’s always been my aim to value women cyclocross.
That’s what she’s already said ten years ago when women’s cyclocross was in its infancy and she – as a kid – could follow the big German star Hanka Kupfernagel because she didn’t find it fair that she as a woman earn a lot less money than her colleague men. Cant is now the cyclocross star, she has already won the World Cup twice but at the Worlds she would always get around the first place: 3rd, 4th, 2nd and 3rd again.
This year she’s again won more cross than anybody else: 16 altogether.
She was also happy that Marianne Vos was present in the race because that way she could not be said to have won only because Marianne wasn’t there. She said she deserves an extra stripe on the jersey: the Marianne Vos stripe. In recent years she was frustrated by the fact she lost to roadies who were much fresher than she was because they had crossed less than she had. It was hard to accept, she says but now she’s proved that she could win despite being a full-time crosser. She’s accepted that fact and she can enjoy it.
Also a comment I find beautiful. She’s never bought any rainbow jersey at shops because “you have to deserve such a jersey”!
On Saturday evening Sanne only celebrated her success with the Dutch women. She had a lot of fun. At the hotel of the Belgian team, the celebration was short, with one glass. It’s tradition in the Belgian team, she says, not to celebrate.
If you are racing on Saturday, you also need to get back home on Saturday and that was not different now
(then you understand it was not different with Van Aert)
Philippe Roodhooft of Beobank said he took Sanne with the team and they had planned a party whether she had won or not. There was a dinner at the restaurant La Lorraine in Luxembourg City with 52 guests. Afterwards there was a party in Marianne Vos was along. For once Sanne said she drank Gin-Tonic.
At the Parish Centre in Lille where the Wout Van Aert fan club is based about 350 supporters followed the Worlds on Sunday. One day after Sanne Cant there was a second Gold Medal for the same village. Now, Lille is set on the map, says one of the supporters. And they also had Erwin Vervecken and Paul Herijgers in the past! Pioneer Cant
What is the value of this win?
Marianne Vos’ presence put Cant’s win to a higher level. Vos is the best rider of this century. She’s been 12 times World Champion (7 times in the field, three times on the road and twice on the track). Cant outsprinted her after a thriller. In the final lap they both switched positions four times. After a final effort and a fantastic bike handling manoeuvre she could get the final straight line in the lead and hold her off.
described it as such:
It’s exciting that Vos is fully back (after one and a half year injury, ed) but it’s even more exciting that somebody else won
What does Cant mean for Women’s Cyclocross?
I grew up in America where I was used to be treated the same as men: same facilities, same routes, same prize money. When I came to Europe, I suddenly did a lesser regarded sport. I had to park my car three k’s from the village. I was ignored and there was no money. Until Sanne Cant got bronze at the Worlds in Koksijde. Suddenly people realised that there was another reason to watch cross and another reason to drink a bear.
Since then attention has gradually grown for women’s cyclocross.
Nowhere else there’s cross on TV but in Belgium there were 30 crosses live this season. The women peloton saw it as a big win. Partly thanks to Cant, thus.
Does this outcome change anything for women’s cyclocross?
Internationally, a victory for Vos would have had more influence but within the milieu Cant’s victory was positively welcomed.
Manager Philip Roodhooft says that she’s respected in the peloton and a good ambassador for the sport, that you can see effects in Flanders because in the days of Clijsters and Hénin women’s tennis was equally as valuable as men’s tennis and Cant can do the same for cyclocross.
8 years ago Cant was the first women to get a pro contract in cyclocross and since then she’s the best paid female rider in Belgium, road included. She’s a pioneer in Flanders, anyway.
How does Cant’s future look like?
Christophe Roodhooft calls her the “Sven Nys of women’s cyclocross”. Technically there’s no match on her but like Nys she has her limits. She is not built to become a road rider. She says she will not switch to the road.