While the Dutch men were vacationing and on training camps, the Belgian men congregated in Meulebeke, Belgium for the 2021 Belgian Cyclocross National Championships. Arguably the second most important jersey in cyclocross was on the line.
Could Laurens Sweeck repeat? Could Toon Aerts take back his 2019 crown? Could Eli Iserbyt overcome his string of bad luck and injuries? Or would the favorite, superstar Wout van Aert, ride away from the field despite his new brand new job as a dad?
The Meulebeke course featured its traditional dirt oval track start, BMX-style rollers and multiple flyovers, but added a newly-constructed massive run-up along with steep, climbs after hairpin turns.
While Sweeck did his best to defend his jersey, and teammate Iserbyt got caught up in early traffic, the pre-race favorite emerged from the mud at the front, but it didn’t happen immediately.
New papa Van Aert had a bobble on a first-lap climb, and was the first to dismount and run the climb. His dismount caused a collision behind him that took out Iserbyt, and had the European champ chasing a minute in arrears before throwing in the towel.
Van Aert held off early challenges from Sweeck and Aerts, and then Michael Vanthourenhout, but maintained a comfortable gap through the finish to take his fourth title at the young age of 26.
The fourth title equaled the Nationals feats of cyclocross legend Erik De Vlaeminck.
Van Aert’s celebration honored his young son:
Van Aert said he hardly slept for six nights before the race. “For the race I really didn’t want to say it, I barely slept for six nights,” he said immediately after the race (translated). “But apparently it doesn’t matter much if you live on a cloud.”
Van Aert was quick to dedicate his fourth title to his growing family.
“That’s why I want to dedicate the victory to my son. And to Sarah of course. Thanks for the past 9 months, Sarah”, said Van Aert after the finish. “She’s doing the great work.”
Full results from the 2021 Belgian Cyclocross National Championships Elite Men’s race are below.
2021 Belgian Cyclocross National Championships Results: Elite Men
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Team||Age||Result|
|1||6||VAN AERT||Wout||JUMBO VISMA||27||01:04:12|
|2||1||AERTS||Toon||BALOISE TREK LIONS||28||00:00:20|
|3||3||VANTHOURENHOUT||Michael||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||28||00:00:41|
|4||4||SWEECK||Laurens||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||28||00:01:12|
|5||11||MERLIER||Tim||ALPECIN - FENIX||29||00:01:56|
|7||5||HERMANS||Quinten||TORMANS CYCLO CROSS TEAM||26||00:02:01|
|9||16||AERNOUTS||Jim||BALOISE TREK LIONS||32||00:02:40|
|10||8||SOETE||Daan||GROUP HENS - MAES CONTAINERS||27||00:02:48|
|11||15||LOOCKX||Lander||GROUP HENS - MAES CONTAINERS||24||00:02:57|
|13||14||MEEUSEN||Tom||GROUP HENS - MAES CONTAINERS||33||00:03:08|
|14||34||VERSTRYNGE||Emiel||TORMANS CYCLO CROSS TEAM||19||00:03:13|
|16||17||VANDEBOSCH||Toon||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||22||00:03:29|
|17||22||FERDINANDE||Anton||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||21||00:03:37|
|18||21||BEKAERT||Yentl||BALOISE TREK LIONS||22||00:03:42|
|19||10||BAESTAENS||Vincent||GROUP HENS - MAES CONTAINERS||32||00:04:36|
|21||43||BELMANS||Lennert||IKO - CRELAN||19||00:05:25|
|23||45||HUYBS||Ward||BALOISE TREK LIONS||19||00:06:16|
|25||36||MEEUSSEN||Witse||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||20||00:06:38|
|30||24||VAN DEN BROECK||Arno||21|
|31||47||PEMEN||Dolf||PROXIMUS - ALPHAMOTORHOMES - DOLTCINI CT||21|
|33||37||VAN LOOVEREN||Joachim||PROXIMUS - ALPHAMOTORHOMES - DOLTCINI CT||20|
|37||44||CLARYSSE||Elio||PROXIMUS - ALPHAMOTORHOMES - DOLTCINI CT||19|
|38||48||SALOMEZ||Ydris||PROXIMUS - ALPHAMOTORHOMES - DOLTCINI CT||20|
|39||46||LAEVENS||Justin||PROXIMUS - ALPHAMOTORHOMES - DOLTCINI CT||20|
|32||NYS||Thibau||BALOISE TREK LIONS||19|
|18||CAMPS||Jelle||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||22|
|2||ISERBYT||Eli||PAUWELS SAUZEN - BINGOAL||24|
|9||AERTS||Thijs||BALOISE TREK LIONS||25|
|27||GOEMAN||Andreas||BALOISE TREK LIONS||22|