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A thrilling van der Poel vs Van Aert slug-fest decides the World Championship

A thrilling van der Poel vs Van Aert slug-fest decides the World Championship

Mathieu van der Poel took his fifth elite world championship on Sunday in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, after a classic battle with his rival Wout Van Aert. Before Sunday van der Poel had won four elite titles and Van Aert three. Lone Canadian entrant Michael van den Ham crashed early, seemingly reset a dislocated finger and carried on to finish 33rd.

Earlier in the day Canada’s Ian Ackert finished two seconds outside the top 10 in the Junior men’s race, with Mika Comaniuk 43rd, Filipe Duarte 62nd and Cam McCallum 70th, while Christiane Bilodeau came in 31st in the U23 women’s contest.

Hoogerheide is a World Cup standard, with an infamous off-camber section, a long climb, a long staircase and a triple flyover. Van der Poel, Eli Iserbyt and Lars van der Haar had all won there. The course was drier on Sunday than on Saturday. The crowds were mad.

Michael van den Ham was the lone Canadian in a field of 52.

Van der Haar claimed the holeshot on Lap 1 of 10. Van den Ham went down early in a corner and appeared to reset a dislocated finger. Van der Poel took over the front before the long climb with Van Aert in second wheel. They left the others behind and the Dutchman tried to shake the Belgian. The chasing pack was still large but 16 seconds behind after the first circuit. Van den Ham had climbed up to 35th.

A drone in hot pursuit, the high-powered duo continued on in Lap 2, with van der Poel pulling and the crowd howling. Michael Vanthourenhout led the chase group 20 seconds in arrears.

The duel of the duo on the stairs during Lap 2.

Van Aert finally took the lead on Lap 3, but the Dutchman wasn’t having any of it. Van der Poel kept trying to shift the Belgian, especially after the planks. Vanthourenhout and teammate Gerben Kuypers broke away from the chase group in a bid for bronze.

The leaders continued knocking chunks out of each other, the huge crowds getting their money worth. On Lap 6, with Eli Iberbyt and van der Haar closing in, Vanthourenhout bid farewell to Kuypers. Van…

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