Race Thread

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No, he needs one more world title to equal Eric De Vlaeminck, or two to break the record. Otherwise he'd just be another could-have-been.

He could just do five or six cross-country races next year, but including the World Championship. Or he could skip one year and still break it later, but there's no guarantee he'll still be as good in three years time.

There is a difference between most successful, and best ever. De Vlaeminck may be the most successful in terms of Worlds wins, but I find it difficult to believe he is better than MvdP; Mathieu has raised the bar in what a CX racer is......power, skills/ technique, etc
 
Well you used Vos as the yardstick. At 19 Vos had 1x CX World Champs title, Backsteadt has 2x CX World Champs, 2x Road World Champs, 1x TT World Champs & 1x Track World Champs titles.
I'm not saying she will have the net CX wins of Vos twice her age, but in the context of mastering their craft, she has comparably won more than Vos by 19, but tha'ts maybe unfair, Vos was also dabbling in speed skating and MTB before CX iirc.

But you're comparing apples and oranges here. Vos was ELITE World Champion in RR and CX at 19, while Bäckstedt is U23 world champion in CX and a former JUNIOR world champion in RR, ITT and on the track. The consensus is that there's more depth in women's cycling nowadays, of course, so you obviously shouldn't compare them 1:1 at this stage.

Bäckstedt has proved to be a massively talented rider, but right now it's too early to say how far it will take her. There's a chance that she's further along in her progression than some of her peers.
 
There is a difference between most successful, and best ever. De Vlaeminck may be the most successful in terms of Worlds wins, but I find it difficult to believe he is better than MvdP; Mathieu has raised the bar in what a CX racer is......power, skills/ technique, etc
Well no ***. One raced in the 70s when pro athletes still smoked and drank, had to write the book on cyclocross technique himself, and is dead now, the other is racing in an era with nutritionists, power meters, performance coaches... and was able to learn the technique which even today is still largely based on how De Vlaeminck passed it down.

Obviously each has to be compared in light of the era they raced in. Not to mention bikes got a lot lighter and there are discbrakes now which completely change the game in a sport like CX.
 
Well you used Vos as the yardstick. At 19 Vos had 1x CX World Champs title, Backsteadt has 2x CX World Champs, 2x Road World Champs, 1x TT World Champs & 1x Track World Champs titles.
I'm not saying she will have the net CX wins of Vos twice her age, but in the context of mastering their craft, she has comparably won more than Vos by 19, but tha'ts maybe unfair, Vos was also dabbling in speed skating and MTB before CX iirc.
I didn't mention Vos actually, that was someone else. But as the poster above explains, you're now comparing world titles in the youth categories to actual elite world titles, so that doesn't make any sense.

I hope Backstedt can become a British challenger for the Dutch domination in cyclocross. The sport could certainly use it. But do I see her beating a fit Van Empel, Pieterse, or Van Anrooij? No, not really, if I'm being honest.
 
Well no ***. One raced in the 70s when pro athletes still smoked and drank, had to write the book on cyclocross technique himself, and is dead now, the other is racing in an era with nutritionists, power meters, performance coaches... and was able to learn the technique which even today is still largely based on how De Vlaeminck passed it down.

Obviously each has to be compared in light of the era they raced in. Not to mention bikes got a lot lighter and there are discbrakes now which completely change the game in a sport like CX.
So given that do you think De Vlaeminck would beat Van der Poel having had access to all of the same opportunities?

Not that it matters what we think since its impossible to ever find out but apples for apples Van der Poel's palmares on the road is significantly more impressive.

Another - and a not so fair - way of putting it is to ask if the 1970s peak De Vlaeminck with today's best equipment could've beat Van der Poel. I am pretty sure NOT but that assumes that DeV would not adapt to current environment (eg jumping barriers etc) which obviously is quite an unfair assumption.

I thiink I'll backtrack and say that it's a meaningless comparison, just like that of Merckx vs the rest and etc etc. Enough to say that De Vlaeminck was amazing in his time! (worth watching old races, they're much faster than I ever imagined).
 
So given that do you think De Vlaeminck would beat Van der Poel having had access to all of the same opportunities?

Not that it matters what we think since its impossible to ever find out but apples for apples Van der Poel's palmares on the road is significantly more impressive.

Another - and a not so fair - way of putting it is to ask if the 1970s peak De Vlaeminck with today's best equipment could've beat Van der Poel. I am pretty sure NOT but that assumes that DeV would not adapt to current environment (eg jumping barriers etc) which obviously is quite an unfair assumption.

I thiink I'll backtrack and say that it's a meaningless comparison, just like that of Merckx vs the rest and etc etc. Enough to say that De Vlaeminck was amazing in his time! (worth watching old races, they're much faster than I ever imagined).
This is a mental exercise one could perform, I suppose, but I think dominance relative to his peers is a fair enough way of comparing riders from different eras. Does de Vlaeminck beat MVDP on this metric? I know he has one more worlds title, but did he have multiple near-unbeaten seasons, for example?
 
So given that do you think De Vlaeminck would beat Van der Poel having had access to all of the same opportunities?

I do not. Or at least think that it's highly unlikely, though the existence of Van Aert is enough to believe it is not entirely impossible. Without Van Aert, Van der Poel would have had no resistance for a decade of total domination, with no other rider being anything less than a playtoy. Van Aert proves that it is possible for an other athlete to come relatively close (in fact, as "engines" go, i think they are on par, with Van der Poel being the more technical and punchy of the two). So maybe somebody else could be as good or better than Van der Poel as well in another era. Whether that would be De Vlaeminck, that's anybody's guess. Maybe that person never knew he was a freak of nature, never got into sports, and died of cancer age 65 after a career of working for the post office.
 
Well you used Vos as the yardstick. At 19 Vos had 1x CX World Champs title, Backsteadt has 2x CX World Champs, 2x Road World Champs, 1x TT World Champs & 1x Track World Champs titles.
I'm not saying she will have the net CX wins of Vos twice her age, but in the context of mastering their craft, she has comparably won more than Vos by 19, but tha'ts maybe unfair, Vos was also dabbling in speed skating and MTB before CX iirc.
When Vos was 19, junior and espoir women didn't have their own races at cx worlds. Vos also won the Jr Women's RR at Verona in 2004.
 
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I do not. Or at least think that it's highly unlikely, though the existence of Van Aert is enough to believe it is not entirely impossible. Without Van Aert, Van der Poel would have had no resistance for a decade of total domination, with no other rider being anything less than a playtoy. Van Aert proves that it is possible for an other athlete to come relatively close (in fact, as "engines" go, i think they are on par, with Van der Poel being the more technical and punchy of the two). So maybe somebody else could be as good or better than Van der Poel as well in another era. Whether that would be De Vlaeminck, that's anybody's guess. Maybe that person never knew he was a freak of nature, never got into sports, and died of cancer age 65 after a career of working for the post office.
I believe that Van Aert and Van der Poel have gained extremely much from each other and that without their fierce competition they wouldn’t be where they are today. I also think both of them know that.
 
Maybe that person never knew he was a freak of nature, never got into sports, and died of cancer age 65 after a career of working for the post office.
Maybe that person was called N'Kwamba Ntangatungu, lived somewhere on the African steppe, and never heard of cyclocross in his life. It's probably not the case that everyone most naturally gifted for this sport was born in a tiny area in northern Belgium ;)

I think the fact that he does have a serious rival (although, when push comes to shove, this rival gets beaten 90% of the time) only speaks in favour of MVDP being at least the greatest in this era of cyclocross. But it's rather pointless to compare cyclists of different eras, peak Merckx couldn't win the Tour these days either. It's just a different sport.
 
I believe that Van Aert and Van der Poel have gained extremely much from each other and that without their fierce competition they wouldn’t be where they are today. I also think both of them know that.
Sure, but that's not my point. It's just easier to assume nobody could ever come close to Van der Poel, had Van Aert not existed, and Van der Poel would have had to deal with Sweeck, Van der Haar, Iserbyt for a decade.
 
Nice summary of MVDP's World Champion victories in cyclocross. My favorite races were:
1. Oostende 2021 - epic and close battle between MVDP and WVA on an amazing course
2. Bogense 2019 - very closely fought race decided on a short but highly technical section. Return of MVDP after three losses against WVA
3. Hoogerheide 2023 - epic sprint

View: https://youtu.be/KUHY0TlBIfw?si=t6bIhsx6VOa7aEvn


Tabor 2015 was his first win but Van Aert had some mechanicals which probably allowed Van der Poel room for a (easier) win. Dubendorf 2020 MVDP was untouchable and Van Aert had just come back from a major injury and was not close to his best. This year's win about the same as Dubendorf without any major opposition.

Then the three "lost" races 2016, 2017 and 2018 were also very nice albeit Heusden-Zolder 2016 was not close between WVA and MVDP. In Bieles 2017 MVDP was very unlucky and WVA took the race on a smart choice of odd/exceptional equipment (green Michelins). In 2018 Valkenburg WVA took a decisive win.
 
Anyone know why Van den Steene had Belgian champion colors on during the pre race today at the X2O?
A Belgian tricolor was also awarded to the elite without a contract, the one for club teams. It became a prey for Kim Van de Steene, who managed to hold off 40-year-old Joyce Vandebeken (the only one who could ever beat Sanne Cant at a Belgian Championship among the pros!).
 
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I do not. Or at least think that it's highly unlikely, though the existence of Van Aert is enough to believe it is not entirely impossible. Without Van Aert, Van der Poel would have had no resistance for a decade of total domination, with no other rider being anything less than a playtoy. Van Aert proves that it is possible for an other athlete to come relatively close (in fact, as "engines" go, i think they are on par, with Van der Poel being the more technical and punchy of the two). So maybe somebody else could be as good or better than Van der Poel as well in another era. Whether that would be De Vlaeminck, that's anybody's guess. Maybe that person never knew he was a freak of nature, never got into sports, and died of cancer age 65 after a career of working for the post office.
True, but one could argue that MVDP is as close to a "freak of nature" as it gets. Hit the genetic jackpot even within his own family - see his brother. Throw in the "high risk" gene he seems to have, and the champion's drive to win (I would say this largely a born trait) and you have someone with a once in lifetime talent born into the perfect environment to maximize it.
 
True, but one could argue that MVDP is as close to a "freak of nature" as it gets. Hit the genetic jackpot even within his own family - see his brother. Throw in the "high risk" gene he seems to have, and the champion's drive to win (I would say this largely a born trait) and you have someone with a once in lifetime talent born into the perfect environment to maximize it.
Without MvdP, you could have said the same thing about Van Aert (certainly in CX). People thought Gimondi was a freak until Merckx came. What if Merckx had never been born or had chosen to become a lawyer or a teacher? So it's all very relative. There are billions of people on earth, but only a few hundreds-thousands are involved in professional cycling.
 
Happy to see Alvarado take out the Superprestige and World Cup, but her back issues have meant this is not the same rider as before Christmas sadly. Still a good season winning the 2 big Classifications. My God, Verdonschot has improved so much over the season, best she has even been. Honestly worries me a little.
 
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Impressed by both Brand and Verdonschot. Usually Lucinda looks quite “square” on the bike and not in tune but here she both looked powerful and agile and apparently she was fast so nice to see. LV has become really quick. Not a power rider but very smooth and quick. Great podium place for her and hopefully she will continue to improve and to become a serious challenger to Van Empel and Pieterse.
 
Impressed by both Brand and Verdonschot. Usually Lucinda looks quite “square” on the bike and not in tune but here she both looked powerful and agile and apparently she was fast so nice to see. LV has become really quick. Not a power rider but very smooth and quick. Great podium place for her and hopefully she will continue to improve and to become a serious challenger to Van Empel and Pieterse.
Problem is, she is now entering her prime years, van Empel and Pieterse are still only 21.
 
Problem is, she is now entering her prime years, van Empel and Pieterse are still only 21.
Yeah, I think if we're looking for a future challenger for those two it would have to be Van Anrooij, the only one who comes close in terms of power. Verdonschot certainly has had a great few weeks, but even with her best form ever at Worlds she was still quite far off Pieterse, who did not have her best form.

Maybe she can challenge Alvarado for the title of women's Iserbyt, win races when the "big three" aren't at the start.
 
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Yeah, I think if we're looking for a future challenger for those two it would have to be Van Anrooij, the only one who comes close in terms of power. Verdonschot certainly has had a great few weeks, but even with her best form ever at Worlds she was still quite far off Pieterse, who did not have her best form.

Maybe she can challenge Alvarado for the title of women's Iserbyt, win races when the "big three" aren't at the start.
I think that is an unfair comparison on Alvarado, there were other riders outside the big guns on the mens side who beat out Iserbyt in WC events and other races this season, Nys, Van der Haar, Ronhaar, Niewenhuis, Vanthourenhout etc. On the womens side, only Fem, Puck and Lucinda beat Alvarado before her back issues.

If the "big three" on the Women's side are Fem, Puck and Shirin, then Brand falls into the same category as Alvarado, they are a level below when the young guns are on top form. The big question is, will the "big three" ever again have the focus on cross they all had last season. We already saw with Puck and Shirin focusing on different disciplines in summer, they were nowhere near last years cross form this winter, both Brand and Alvardo finished ahead of Pieterse multiple times and Van Anrooj struggled in the few races she did. For sure Van Empel was a level above, but if she develops successfully on the road, it could be a different Fem next winter.
 
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I think that is an unfair comparison on Alvarado, there were other riders outside the big guns on the mens side who beat out Iserbyt in WC events and other races this season, Nys, Van der Haar, Ronhaar, Niewenhuis, Vanthourenhout etc. On the womens side, only Fem, Puck and Lucinda beat Alvarado before her back issues.

If the "big three" on the Women's side are Fem, Puck and Shirin, then Brand falls into the same category as Alvarado, they are a level below when the young guns are on top form. The big question is, will the "big three" ever again have the focus on cross they all had last season. We already saw with Puck and Shirin focusing on different disciplines in summer, they were nowhere near last years cross form this winter, both Brand and Alvardo finished ahead of Pieterse multiple times and Van Anrooj struggled in the few races she did. For sure Van Empel was a level above, but if she develops successfully on the road, it could be a different Fem next winter.
Yes, Alvarado is still better than Verdonschot as well, but beating her is probably a more realistic goal than beating Fem or Puck.

I don't know if a bigger road season will hurt Fem's form in cross though, if you look at Van der Poel it's not exactly made him any worse. She'll probably only get better. As for the form of the other two, with Van Anrooij you can't really tell, before she really got going she was out already. Pieterse during the Christmas period seemed like the Pieterse of last year.