Toon Aerts second in Pont-Chateau, loses grip on World Cup lead

With one World Cup remaining, it's winner takes all for the coveted leader's jersey

It was a thrilling three-up sprint finish for the penultimate cyclocross World Cup in Pont-Chateau as world champion Wout van Aert finally netted a win, beating out world cup leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions), and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal), who finished second and third respectively.

With one cyclocross World Cup remaining, Toon Aerts finally ceded the white leader’s jersey that he has worn since winning the opening round in Waterloo, USA, organized by Trek at the company’s headquarters and a momentous victory for all.

After a crazy week, it was a hard day! It was a tactical race, but very hard in the final. I tried to go in the penultimate lap, but Wout came back really strong. In that moment, I knew it will be difficult to win. The race is still open for the general classification. It's my job to be in good shape for Hoogerheide!

Van Aert had to win to overtake Aerts for the World Cup lead, and Aerts needed to finish with his Belgian rival to keep in contention for the coveted jersey, making the final lap a very thrilling race, especially when Vanthourenhout came from behind and briefly grabbed the lead.

As the three riders came into the finish stretch, van Aert led it out with Aerts hoping to use his draft and slingshot around in the last meters. However, van Aert, the better sprinter, held off the challenge and grabbed his first World Cup win after finishing six times the runner up this season. Aerts crossed for second and a fatigued Vanthourenhout rounded out the podium.

With a mere three points separating the two Belgian rivals, it will be winner takes all between Aerts and van Aert for the World Cup final next weekend in Hoogerheide.

Next week it’ll be the same, and the one who finishes ahead of the other will win the World Cup. It’s good to have a close battle in this competition. Cross certainly isn’t dead!

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