Few can accuse Mathieu van der Poel of going for the “low hanging fruit” by sticking around his age group in the U23 race. Two weeks ago, the young rider set himself down an irreversible path by announcing that he would be contending the Men’s Elite Race at the 2015 World Championships in Tabor. This stipulation included needing to finish out the World Cup races in the same category.
Yesterday, Van der Poel exceeded expectations by claiming an early break away for the eventual win, beating his rival, Wout van Aert, for only the second time this season.
“I had one mechanical,” he recalled of his race. “My chain dropped off, but it was my own fault. There was one lap where I fell like three times, and after that I’m glad I refound my good legs.”
Van der Poel was then told that he would be considered by people to be the number one favorite going into the World Championship. “I hope so,” he replied. “I had a really good day and I hope it wasn’t a week too early, but if I have these legs on the world championships, I know I’m one of the favorites.”
During a Flemmish interview, Van Aert had his own thoughts on the week ahead. “Tabor is a much different course than Hoogerheide,” he concluded, suggesting that the race in the Czech Republic might play to his strengths a little better.
You can watch Van der Poel’s finish at Hoogerheide in the video above, posted by the UCI channel. The Elite Men, U23 Men, and Junior Men, the Elite Women’s race reports are also available with updated photos and results.