Mathieu van der Poel says he “expected better” from his form at the European Cyclocross Championships, despite winning his third consecutive title.
Dutchman Van der Poel has made his late return to the cross circuit this month after an outstanding year on the road and mountain bike, winning both CX races he has entered this season.
The 24-year-old was pushed right to the line during the Euros in Silvelle, Italy on Sunday (November 10), fighting the combined might of a strong Belgian team.
But after a heated battle with rising star Eli Iserbyt, Van der Poel held on to take his third consecutive European title.
Speaking after the race, Van der Poel told Belgian website Wielerflits: “I have had a fairly short preparation for the cyclocross season. We knew that I was not going to be 100 per cent, but I had expected better.”
Van der Poel triumphed despite an admirable ride by 22-year-old Iserbyt who took silver, as Belgians occupied six of the top-10 places.
Britain’s Tom Pidcock said he was disappointed to finish eighth in his first elite European Championships.
Van der Poel only began his cross season on November 3 as he looks to defend his World Championship jersey in February.
He opened his winter season with victory in Ruddervoorde, Belgium on Sunday, November 3, following up with victory in Italy last weekend.
Read more at Van der Poel added: “I think everyone sees that last year was better. I have to follow the course and choose my moments.
“I was confident that it had to work, but I couldn’t drive away where I wanted to.
“When I look at myself, I don’t feel like last year. I can’t go very deep yet, so I decided to follow and focus on the final lap. I am happy that I can still win in this situation.”