'What he did today is enormous': rivals react to Wout van Aert's victorious return to cyclocross

The Belgian star came out on top in his first race of the cyclocross season after having time off the bike

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert's rivals were left fighting for second place as the Belgian returned to racing after having time off the bike.

Van Aert started his cyclocross season at the Superprestige race in Boom where he won by almost two minutes over second place rider Toon Aerts with European champion Lars van der Haar completing the podium.

British rider Tom Pidcock also made his return to racing in the mud, but he didn't quite have the same form as Van Aert with Pidcock finishing in seventh place, two minutes 13 seconds down.

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Van Aert's rivals voiced their amazement after the race: "It is unbelievable what Wout van Aert has done here," Toon Aerts told Sporza (opens in new tab).

"It was to be expected that he would quickly join the front of affairs, but that he produces such a lap after just one lap shows a lot of confidence. This race will make him even more confident in the coming weeks."

World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt joked that he didn't really see Van Aert's race as his lead was so huge adding: "What he did today is enormous. The lead was huge. He has reached a consistently high level since last winter, also on the road. Wout was at home on this course.  I have to hope for a slightly faster race to keep up with him."

With Van Aert and Pidcock returning to the sport, two of the three stars of cyclocross are back with the world champion Mathieu van der Poel set to finally join the fold on Boxing day.

Up until the race in Boom it has been about three riders, Aerts, Iserbyt and Van der Haar with Iserbyt dominating the World Cup with five wins along with three Superprestige rounds.

This is now expected to all change with the return of Van Aert, Pidcock and later Van der Poel.

Aerts admitted that he thought the same after Van Aert's performance: "We have to be honest. If you see how Van Aert rode away, it could be a Christmas period without victories."

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.