Second race of the weekend and second instant classic between Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. It’s mind boggling to conceive the strength needed to chase back to the front of a race led by MvdP. It’s inconceivable doing it 3 times and still vying for the win. But, that’s what we witnessed at the Citadelcross at Namur. Shout out to Stephen Hyde getting that front row start and staying strong all race to finish 19th. Huge race for him.
GIF quality is way down due to my source footage only being 480p. GIF size is still monstrous, so I apologize to those with slow connections. I can’t break these down into 2 second pieces, so mega-sized it is.
Obligatory tire check.
Trap is clean.
Holy crap this fuggin’ climb!! You can see the fans lined up towards the top in distance.
Stephen Hyde had a damn fine race finishing in 19th.
This section was of no significance to the race, but it looked cool as shit when they would drop in and wind back and forth. Except MvdP.
This off camber hill was of significance, but ultimately not to the outcome. Another spot that caused havoc for some and none for others. Line choices and the result were interesting each lap.
Wout van Aert got in a fist fight with the Cidatel today. It was interesting to watch someone who’s typically in control and calculated have such issues seeming, at times, out of control.
Okay, I lied. Mathieu van der Poel did carve some sweet dirt pow on this section. Got a ‘lil braapy on that rock/root tho.
Gianni Vermeersch makes sure the drop is rideable before trying it with his fiets. One can never be too careful when protecting the ones you love.
Pretty sure this was the only time (at least on camera) MvdP cleared this without dabbing. He went right while Wout went left every lap. The lower section of the crest of the hill was obviously enticing to Mathieu but ended up never really being the clean line. Outside was higher but faster for WvA.
Second time through, Wout tries stretching a double into a triple (sportsball reference).
Chase back numero twee.
Don’t think MvdP made a mistake on this stepped off camber all day.
Wout, on the other hand, looked as though he was barely surviving it.
This hill was may or may not have been semi-critical in deciding the outcome of the race. Van der Poel ran this almost every lap while Van Aert rode it.
“Give me a dab, Mathieu. One dab only.”
Together this time up the hill with MvdP leading, forcing Wout to dismount.
Tom Meeusen makes contact with the leaders. Van der Poel, not one for following others, blazes the “no fux given” line through the root garden.
2 dramatic chase backs after crashes wasn’t enough for Wout van Aert. He goes all in here with number 3.
I would’ve DNF’d myself right into the crowd. T-Mee holds on while playing mind games with those watching.
Sheeeeeeiiiiiiiit, totally forgot MvdP switches it up and goes left side with no dab on this lap. Donut worry, fearless reader, he goes back to the dab line for the finale.
3rd chase back for Wout. Mathieu, sensing imminent catchage, takes a fresh fiets.
First time leading through this section all race, Wout’s able to dictate the pace.
Wout still in control, this time forcing MvdP to ride this section for the first time, coming face to face with @cyclephotos.
Back together after the gap opened, these two reset and drop back in.
WvA executes the best line over this hill of the entire race. Cutting off just before, then following the apex down he was able to clear it quicker than MvdP who returned to the dab line.
Penultimate time up this hill and Wout loses traction as Van der Poel successfully clears. No gap forms but in hindsight it’s an indicator WvA is at his limit.
LAATSTE RONDE!! Note: Former Namur winner, Kevin Pauwels, is right there about to make the junction.
At the top of the climb from the Start/Finish is this red ramp. You can see the quad-killing moment everyone *except* WvA and MvdP go through as they’re just about to crest it. Smart line is cutting the apex off and diving right.
Imagine dropping into this amphitheater with everything on the line in front of this crowd.
Van Aert attacks first. Knowing his strength in line choice he wants to get there before MvdP.
Another instant classic moment between these two. They take the same lines as before except Mathieu clears it faster than he has the entire race and that’s including the dab. Neither gives an inch and they go over together.
Knowing Wout’s had trouble with this section all day, MvdP attacks.
Van der Poel puts everything into the run up to this hill banking on Wout not clearing it. He is correct and gets the desired gap.
Incredible performance form Wout. 3 chase backs from crashes and he still was there on the laatste ronde to challenge for the win.
Confetti cannons literally FTW.
Another great battle between these two. Also, Kevin’s having one helluva season wearing out that derde step.