The dust and mud has settled from the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships, even if the heartbreak and heartburn from the flat tires hasn’t passed for many racers.
One racer who visibly seemed the most distraught after Sunday’s flat fest was silver medalist Matheieu van der Poel. From crossing the finish line, through the podium ceremony, all the way to his interview with Sporza television, the 2015 World Champion couldn’t hold back his sadness over the way the final three laps played out in Bieles and his duel with Van Aert was deflated.
Van der Poel is all smiles now, even if he’s still disappointed with his result in Bieles, and gave an interview to Christine Vardaros on Wednesday at Parkcross Maldegem, which he won in convincing fashion and style.
Van der Poel was open, humble and free flowing in his responses in our exclusive interview. First topic was the aftermath of the World Championships of course, and how Van der Poel didn’t hide from fans or hide his emotion. Even when the feelings were still raw and he wasn’t anywhere close to smiling, Van der Poel still stopped to take photos with admiring fans right after his race, on his way to his Sporza interview.
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“The fans are there to support you, and it’s important to take some time to get in a photo even when it got bad in a race,” Van der Poel told Cyclocross Magazine. “I wasn’t very happy at that moment, I wasn’t really aware of everything that was going on around me because I was so [dis]pleased with my race. I followed the person who took me to the Sporza tent and made time for photos.”
“The fans are there to support you, and it’s important to take some time to get in a photo even when it got bad in a race.”
Van der Poel also recalled what was going through his mind after his fourth flat in the middle of a beautiful duel with Wout Van Aert.
“It costs a lot of energy when you run on a flat tire, and also with two laps to go you have a disadvantage like that on Wout van Aert, you know it’s over.”
Mathieu van der Poel said he wouldn’t change a thing in terms of his tire choice and pressure, despite Van Aert opting for double-casing tires with an old clincher tread to win Worlds.
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“I’d still do the same,” Van der Poel said. “After my first flat, I added some pressure to my tires and it still didn’t make any difference. These are the tires I ride on the whole year, and I don’t know why I should change it for one particular race.”
As for the World Cups in the United States, Van der Poel hopes to make them this coming season, despite making comments this past summer about the 2016 events’ financial burden on European racers. The Dutch champion ended up missing both U.S. World Cups in 2016 due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery required after crashing while riding his BMX bike in the spring.
“I’m going to try my best to have an injury-free summer and to be at the [U.S.] World Cups.”
See the full video interview by Christine Vardaros below. (It was windy, excuse a little wonky stabilization artifacts).
2017 Worlds Silver Medalist Mathieu van der Poel Interview, at Parkcross Maldegem: