Duo plans to take a break before joining Cross
Written by Peter Maurer
Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma, li.) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) at Paris-Roubaix 2021 | Photo: Cor Vos
04.10.2021 | (rsn) – The first rainy version of Paris-Roubaix since 2002 was supposed to accommodate multiple specialists such as Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) or Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix), experts were sure. Good school handling and riding on muddy and wet surfaces should give the duo an edge over the competition. In the end, the Dutchman and the Belgian, who split the last seven circuit world championships, came in third and seventh.
“Experiencing this Roubaix is fun, but I don’t like it more than a dry version. It’s very dangerous and you can’t stay ahead all day. It also takes a bit of luck,” said Van Aert. TV presenter Sporza after the race. The 27-year-old was off to a good start with a couple of his teammates in the escape group and was well placed against the Arenberg Forest alongside the other top candidates.
But when his great opponent Van der Poel attacked, the Belgian caught the wrong foot. “When he attacked, I was too late. It was my fault,” said Van Aert, who then sprinted for fifth on the first larger chase group but still off Yves Lambert (Deceuninck – Quick Step) and his future team. Mate Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) has been bypassed.
“I’m not completely satisfied, but on the other hand I don’t think it was possible to win” too much energy behind,” said the Herentals professional, who did not feel comfortable on the wet stones.
Van der Poel also had to complain about the weakness of the force. Although the 26-year-old made it to the cobblestones, he finished third in the three-man race against Sonny Colbrelli (the Bahrain victor) and Florian Vermeersch (Loto Soudal). “In the end my legs were empty,” he described the crucial scene for NOS.
Van der Poel: “My head has not yet reached the cross”
“In the last 30-40 kilometers I hit the limit. I always hoped others would break too, but it’s really over for me,” he continued. Van Aert has been very active on the field all day: “It was a great race and I was able to drive as I like, and I am proud to be able to be on the podium on my first participation.”
Completely exhausted, he lay in the velodrome for minutes after crossing the finish line. “It was very difficult, but this Rubix Paris can be framed and will never be forgotten,” said Van der Poel, now longing for a break. “My head has not yet reached the cross. It will take some time, because I am going on vacation now.”
This ties him to his favorite rival Van Aert. After a long season on the road, the Belgian is tired of cycling at the moment: “I don’t think you’ll see me anytime soon. I’m planning a long vacation.” But at the latest when the World Championships nears in the US, we’ll likely see the two stars compete again in early 2022.