Toon tops CX podium ahead of van der Poel

Toon Aerts breaks Mathieu van der Poel’s 35-race winning streak

On Saturday, Telenet-Baloise rider Toon Aerts’ first place finish at Hotondcross cyclocross race in Ronse, Belgium was extra sweet because he broke rival Mathieu van der Poel’s 400-day-long winning streak.

Aerts said the opportunity to end van der Poel’s 35-race winning streak was on his mind as he cut through the muddy course.

BELGA PHOTO by David Stockman

“It literally made me kick harder, it was pretty cool that I was beating him,” Aerts said. “Right now, the same rider almost always wins. If you can add a big cyclocross win to your own name, in the presence of Mathieu, the achievement will sparkle even brighter.”

In lopsided conditions where a single rider often wins, Aerts said that it can impact your own motivation.

If you can add a big cyclocross win to your own name, in the presence of Mathieu, the achievement will sparkle even brighter.

BELGA PHOTO by David Stockman

“There have been times when I didn’t feel up for it,” Aerts said. “Sometimes I had a hard time staying motivated to train. But luckily I have good people around me. They convinced me that I was not doing so badly, and that was right because as I kept racing, I would often get second or third place. I even have the fitness with which I could have won races in the past, in the absence of Mathieu. But people only remember the winner, which is why they might have thought I was having a bad season. I was prepared and finally won.”

BELGA PHOTO by David Stockman

On Saturday, he proved that he can take the win even over a powerhouse like van der Poel. And it isn’t the first time. Van der Poel’s last defeat back in 2018 was also to Aerts.

Now, let’s see what the future holds.

In this story