Wout van Aert clinched his fifth career win at the Superprestige Heusden-Zolder, prevailing in a thrilling duel with Eli Iserbyt of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal…and he did it on a gravel bike. Despite relentless pressure from the Superprestige leader during the last two laps, Van Aert showcased his strength on the climbs and secured a narrow win on Wednesday.
24 uur na Gavere volgt Zolder, maar dit keer geen Mathieu van der Poel aan de start: krijgt Wout van Aert vrij spel? – #Sport #Sportnieuws #Darten #Wielrennen #Tennis #Vechtsport – https://t.co/tNync4TpAg – https://t.co/qGmP1TvE1Y pic.twitter.com/XSqJTO1kYr
— Team NLSportnieuwsNL (@nlsportnieuwsnl) December 27, 2023
As noted first by GCN, the Jumbo-Visma athlete decided to swap his Cervélo R5-CX for the Aspero.
Although the two bikes are similar–there are some notable differences between the machines.
The R5-CX has narrow seat stays that come together at the seat tube and top tube, whereas the Aspero has much wider stays that attach lower on the seat tube.
The Aspero also has a thicker fork and can take tires of up to 40mm. However, that is moot for ‘cross racing since the UCI max is 33 mm.
Superprestige Heusden-Zolder: Wout van Aert beats out Eli Iserbyt in hard-fought contest 🇧🇪
— GCN Racing (@GcnRacing) December 27, 2023
The Aspero has a longer reach, enabling riders to have a more stretched-out position, despite a slightly increased stack height.
It’s not clear why van Aert decided to go with the Aspero. Heusden-Zolder was not a muddy slog–rather, a quick course, so he may have wanted something more suitable for the parcours. The Belgian previously race that Cervélo bike at the 2023 gravel worlds, although crashes and flats ruined his chance for a win. He finished 8th, behind winner Matej Mohorič.
There aren’t that many races left for van Aert this ‘cross season. He is doing a much shorter series of CX races this winer. “It is with a heavy heart, but it is a conscious choice to quickly make the transition to the road season and experience a quiet winter,” van Aert said in December. “The world championships are again at the beginning of February. I have already done the world…