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Mathieu van der Poel says he 'still needs to be better' despite second World Cup victory

Cycling Weekly logo Cycling Weekly 12/5/2022 Tom Thewlis
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Mathieu van der Poel has said that even after winning a second consecutive round of the cyclo-cross world cup in Antwerp, he still needs to improve his performances in the weeks ahead. 

In the race in Belgium, Van der Poel was far too strong for his competitors, attacking on the second lap of the course, before eventually taking a resounding victory by 23 seconds from his arch rival Wout van Aert in second. 

His impressive showing was even more remarkable after the Dutchman had crashed and hurt his knee in a heavy fall, less than 24 hours previously, at the Superprestige Boom race won by Tom Pidcock

Van der Poel explained that if he wants to continue to have the upper hand over Van Aert, then his shape needs to further improve in the coming weeks. 

“It still needs to be better in the future, because Wout [Van Aert] will also continue to be better,” Van der Poel said. 

“Wout was immediately fairly strong for his first cross’, and he will also improve towards Christmas. I think there’s going to be a few really nice races in a busy period.”

On his knee injury, he added: “I was a bit sore, but it didn’t bother me too much during the race. There were no mistakes that I recall, which is a good thing. I was able to get a good gap and maintain it, so I’m pretty happy with today.”

In just three cyclo-cross races this winter, Van der Poel already has two world cup victories. 

Last weekend in Hulst, the Netherlands he put in a stunning display to land a victory at the first time of asking. 

The Dutchman threatened that his top level is still to come, and after being impressed by Van Aert’s performance in Antwerp, he explained that he needs to improve further once more. 

After three races and two wins, Van der Poel will now take a brief break from his cyclo-cross dominance for a road training camp in Spain with his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates. He is expected to return to cross’ action in the upcoming World Cup slot at Val di Sole in Italy. 

“It’s a pity that I leave for Spain tomorrow, as I’m just getting the feeling back, but after a few weeks of training in the sun, I’ll be back for a busy period,” he said. “I also want to have a good basis for the spring, which is still the most important thing for me, so we stick to the schedule.”

The Dutchman and Van Aert are both expected to target the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands on 5 February. 

If Van der Poel was to achieve success at the cross’ worlds, he would land a fifth cyclo-cross world title. 

British rider Tom Pidcock is the reigning champion, and both Pidcock and Van Aert are expected to compete in the next round of the cyclo-cross world cup next weekend in Dublin, Ireland

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