The course at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands was designed by Adrie van der Poel, who last raced competitively in 2000, finishing just off the podium in his final home Worlds in Sint-Michielsgestel. The 1996 elite men’s cyclocross world champion has a total of eight medals in all colours from the world championships, a number that his son, Mathieu van der Poel, surpassed last year with nine medals total (junior, U23 and elites), the last three gold.
The elder Van der Poel is still in the game himself, the designer for the course in Hoogerheide. He designed the last two Worlds courses that were held in the Netherlands – Hoogerheide in 2014 and Valkenberg in 2018, as well as the one in Bieles, Luxembourg in 2017. However, son Mathieu does not have an advantage, since he did not win on any of those other courses.
“I build a course with the resources I have and I don’t look at riders. I look at the finish, tents, material stations [mechanics’ pits] and parking lots, without thinking that a corner is in favor of Mathieu or anyone else,” Adrie van der Poel said to Sporza.
He thought the layout was challenging, with a forecast of rain adding to the variables of the terrain. Many of the national teams practised on the track today under cloudy conditions and agreed with that assessment. Riders on the Dutch team noted the dry, fast sections were quite bumpy and could become treacherously slippery with more rain.
While the large stair structure looms as the eye candy of the course, the barriers could be the most decisive element, even at their relatively-diminutive size. Van der Poel said he originally did not plan to include the small planks in the design.
“I’m not in favor of barriers anyway and I didn’t want them in the course until the chairman came up with an amount from the sponsor. Then I had to change course,” he told Sporza, and said he moved them near the finish.
“Barriers have no function if you put them where you have to walk through the mud. It is still difficult to get to the finish afterwards. If you want to be sure at the barriers, you have to have 10 seconds. You will not win with a lead of two seconds.”
The barriers also caught the attention of Sven Nys, a four-time cyclocross world title holder with a total of nine elite medals. He told Het Nieuwsblad the exact specifications for height and course position “can really make the difference” if executed properly.
“They are really in a very crucial place and are…
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