Race Thread

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^^this might be the silliest argument I've heard in a long time.

Anyway, if Wout or Pidcock doesn't step up soon I won't be able to convince my wife that watching these CX "races" on weekend afternoons isn't a complete waste of my time. :angry:
 
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Really enjoyable to watch the ladies race at Hulst. It is definitely more “realistic” seeing the pro ladies compared to the men who makes everything look like a smooth ride in the park - which we all know to well not being the case.

Betsema rock solid performance. Brand coming under pressure and crumbles a little. Worst better than in a long time and Blanka Vas vs Vos (and Sanne Cant) underscoring the massive difference between the old and new generation of female cyclocrossers.
 
Agree, it's inspiring to see a master craftsman at work. I just wish he had better competition...
Seeing as -bar yesterday- he hasn’t been as good as he was last year, I had hoped for more competition as well. Gavere and Dendermonde were the only races where he got beat because one rider was clearly better. You could excuse his loss in Gavere by saying it was only his second race of the season. So we’re left with Dendermonde.

Wout has been a bit unlucky, but honestly except for Dendermonde I never had the impending feeling that he was going to beat Mathieu compared to the other way around.

I honestly think that Wout is the only rider in the CX peloton that can beat Mathieu at his best, but only by also being at his best and with a somewhat favorable course.

In a true mud-fest he’ll always get one more star than Mathieu for me. Problem is, there aren’t many courses like Dendermonde in the CX calendar and much depends on the weather too. Toon Aerts can also do some damage if he’s at his absolute best in a mud-fest.
 
I'm far from an expert, but checked out the replay of the 2017 Belgian champs at Ostende and as an MVDP fan that course looked like one where Wout could be a handful for MVDP. Seemed like a lot of running/slogging in the sand and not a ton of track where MVDP's superior handle would make a huge difference. Guess we'll see in a few weeks.
 
I'm far from an expert, but checked out the replay of the 2017 Belgian champs at Ostende and as an MVDP fan that course looked like one where Wout could be a handful for MVDP. Seemed like a lot of running/slogging in the sand and not a ton of track where MVDP's superior handle would make a huge difference. Guess we'll see in a few weeks.
That’s exactly what I mean. If Wout is in top form and has a favorable course he can definitely beat Mathieu as has already been proven this season.
 
Seeing as -bar yesterday- he hasn’t been as good as he was last year, I had hoped for more competition as well. Gavere and Dendermonde were the only races where he got beat because one rider was clearly better. You could excuse his loss in Gavere by saying it was only his second race of the season. So we’re left with Dendermonde.

Wout has been a bit unlucky, but honestly except for Dendermonde I never had the impending feeling that he was going to beat Mathieu compared to the other way around.

I honestly think that Wout is the only rider in the CX peloton that can beat Mathieu at his best, but only by also being at his best and with a somewhat favorable course.

In a true mud-fest he’ll always get one more star than Mathieu for me. Problem is, there aren’t many courses like Dendermonde in the CX calendar and much depends on the weather too. Toon Aerts can also do some damage if he’s at his absolute best in a mud-fest.
The thing is that there are only a few guys with equally excellent CX technique, and none of them come close to Mathieu's engine. I'm 200% convinced Wout has the extra horsepower, but on these courses, either he can't use those, or he loses more time due to technique. Guys like Meeusen are probably on par with Mathieu on a technical level, and i'm guessing mini Nys is or at least will be even better, but it would take someone with Wout's engine and Mathieu's technique to repeatedly beat Mathieu.

That said, i've seen 3 races where i think Wout was better so far, and that's 3 more than the last 2 seasons. I feel Wout was better in Namur, but he lost because Mathieu was more cunning. Then he lost one and won one due to mechanicals. And there was Dendermonde.

You say Mathieu lost Gavere because it was only his second race... but he lost it to Pidcock who also had just started a week earlier. So that's not a fair conclusion. It should also be said that while we expected Iserbyt to put some heat on Mathieu, he (Eli) has been most unfortunate with mechanicals and crashes right at the start, and then his injury as well. Though, after all is said and done, it still seems the only one able to give Mathieu a beating, is Wout. And for that, he has to ride as perfectly as possible and have a good day. Simply "not making mistakes" isn't even enough. I've said it before, but Mathieu takes half a second at every corner, twist, obstacle, and does so while not breaking a sweat, purely based on technique. He takes corners and obstacles at a higher speed, meaning he gains time, meaning he doesn't have to accelerate as much to get going again, meaning he burns less matches. That's 10-20 seconds worth of effort that Wout (and others) have to dig deeper in order not to lose ground. You can do this for two, three, four laps, but you can't keep doing that for 8 or 9 laps.
 
The thing is that there are only a few guys with equally excellent CX technique, and none of them come close to Mathieu's engine. I'm 200% convinced Wout has the extra horsepower, but on these courses, either he can't use those, or he loses more time due to technique. Guys like Meeusen are probably on par with Mathieu on a technical level, and i'm guessing mini Nys is or at least will be even better, but it would take someone with Wout's engine and Mathieu's technique to repeatedly beat Mathieu.

That said, i've seen 3 races where i think Wout was better so far, and that's 3 more than the last 2 seasons. I feel Wout was better in Namur, but he lost because Mathieu was more cunning. Then he lost one and won one due to mechanicals. And there was Dendermonde.

You say Mathieu lost Gavere because it was only his second race... but he lost it to Pidcock who also had just started a week earlier. So that's not a fair conclusion. It should also be said that while we expected Iserbyt to put some heat on Mathieu, he (Eli) has been most unfortunate with mechanicals and crashes right at the start, and then his injury as well. Though, after all is said and done, it still seems the only one able to give Mathieu a beating, is Wout. And for that, he has to ride as perfectly as possible and have a good day. Simply "not making mistakes" isn't even enough. I've said it before, but Mathieu takes half a second at every corner, twist, obstacle, and does so while not breaking a sweat, purely based on technique. He takes corners and obstacles at a higher speed, meaning he gains time, meaning he doesn't have to accelerate as much to get going again, meaning he burns less matches. That's 10-20 seconds worth of effort that Wout (and others) have to dig deeper in order not to lose ground. You can do this for two, three, four laps, but you can't keep doing that for 8 or 9 laps.
Totally agree that MVDP has that little extra against WVA in terms of skills and technique. When he rides at his best it looks absolutely fantastic and completely effortless. Wout always seems to be fighting it and has a chunky square style to his riding. My guess is that he has a significant power advantage on van der Poel but it’s just not enough on a technical course.
There are a few riders I believe are on technical par with van der Poel - e.g. Pidcock, Vanthourenhout, Hermans and of course TNys and maybe also Vandeputte and Kamp - but as pointed out none of them can match Mathieu’s power. Pidcock probably can match him w/kg but then it takes a very hilly course to make a difference like Namur. Aerts and WVA match Mathieu’s power but are just a notch behind on technique.
 
The thing is that there are only a few guys with equally excellent CX technique, and none of them come close to Mathieu's engine. I'm 200% convinced Wout has the extra horsepower, but on these courses, either he can't use those, or he loses more time due to technique. Guys like Meeusen are probably on par with Mathieu on a technical level, and i'm guessing mini Nys is or at least will be even better, but it would take someone with Wout's engine and Mathieu's technique to repeatedly beat Mathieu.

That said, i've seen 3 races where i think Wout was better so far, and that's 3 more than the last 2 seasons. I feel Wout was better in Namur, but he lost because Mathieu was more cunning. Then he lost one and won one due to mechanicals. And there was Dendermonde.

You say Mathieu lost Gavere because it was only his second race... but he lost it to Pidcock who also had just started a week earlier. So that's not a fair conclusion. It should also be said that while we expected Iserbyt to put some heat on Mathieu, he (Eli) has been most unfortunate with mechanicals and crashes right at the start, and then his injury as well. Though, after all is said and done, it still seems the only one able to give Mathieu a beating, is Wout. And for that, he has to ride as perfectly as possible and have a good day. Simply "not making mistakes" isn't even enough. I've said it before, but Mathieu takes half a second at every corner, twist, obstacle, and does so while not breaking a sweat, purely based on technique. He takes corners and obstacles at a higher speed, meaning he gains time, meaning he doesn't have to accelerate as much to get going again, meaning he burns less matches. That's 10-20 seconds worth of effort that Wout (and others) have to dig deeper in order not to lose ground. You can do this for two, three, four laps, but you can't keep doing that for 8 or 9 laps.
Pidcock started 2 weeks earlier, in Tábor. Third vs first weekend of racing is definitely a meaningful difference.
 
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These guys are constantly playing mind games with each other and believe WvA has been sandbagging VdP and predict he will get the better of him in the worlds later this month. WvA’s 2020 season was phenomenal and is a much improved rider since the tdf crash. VdP has had a so-so 2020 by his standards and reckon it was Roxanne Bertels nagging him during lockdown... what did he say "his pain in the arse".
Big fan of VdP BUT WvA will be hunting him down in Ostend, regardless of technique, ala 2016, 2017 & 2018.
 
These guys are constantly playing mind games with each other and believe WvA has been sandbagging VdP and predict he will get the better of him in the worlds later this month. WvA’s 2020 season was phenomenal and is a much improved rider since the tdf crash. VdP has had a so-so 2020 by his standards and reckon it was Roxanne Bertels nagging him during lockdown... what did he say "his pain in the arse".
Big fan of VdP BUT WvA will be hunting him down in Ostend, regardless of technique, ala 2016, 2017 & 2018.
I also sort of wondered that re sandbagging...however, I don't see MVDP going into the red every race, and he knows that Wout is legit competition, regardless of where he places.

An interesting subplot this year has been how the the road racing season played out vis-a-vis the CX season. Wout had an incredible road year whereas Mathieu, as you say, merely had a very good one (great by almost anyone else's standards, of course). I thought that would translate to CX -- maybe it has, a little, but Wout has not had the CX season I was expecting.

Also regarding world's (aka the Dutch vs Belgian championships with a British wildcard), I'm sure Mathieu will taper a bit if he thinks he's coming in overcooked.
 
The thing is that there are only a few guys with equally excellent CX technique, and none of them come close to Mathieu's engine. I'm 200% convinced Wout has the extra horsepower, but on these courses, either he can't use those, or he loses more time due to technique. Guys like Meeusen are probably on par with Mathieu on a technical level, and i'm guessing mini Nys is or at least will be even better, but it would take someone with Wout's engine and Mathieu's technique to repeatedly beat Mathieu.

That said, i've seen 3 races where i think Wout was better so far, and that's 3 more than the last 2 seasons. I feel Wout was better in Namur, but he lost because Mathieu was more cunning. Then he lost one and won one due to mechanicals. And there was Dendermonde.

You say Mathieu lost Gavere because it was only his second race... but he lost it to Pidcock who also had just started a week earlier. So that's not a fair conclusion. It should also be said that while we expected Iserbyt to put some heat on Mathieu, he (Eli) has been most unfortunate with mechanicals and crashes right at the start, and then his injury as well. Though, after all is said and done, it still seems the only one able to give Mathieu a beating, is Wout. And for that, he has to ride as perfectly as possible and have a good day. Simply "not making mistakes" isn't even enough. I've said it before, but Mathieu takes half a second at every corner, twist, obstacle, and does so while not breaking a sweat, purely based on technique. He takes corners and obstacles at a higher speed, meaning he gains time, meaning he doesn't have to accelerate as much to get going again, meaning he burns less matches. That's 10-20 seconds worth of effort that Wout (and others) have to dig deeper in order not to lose ground. You can do this for two, three, four laps, but you can't keep doing that for 8 or 9 laps.
I agree with most of what you said, except for a few things.

Firstly, the perception that Wout was clearly better than Mathieu in more races other than Dendermonde is purely subjective I suppose.

In Namur Wout might have been better, but still, Mathieu pulled out that monster last lap. So I wonder how “unable” he really was to catch Piddy before the end. Iirc the mechanical that Wout had wasn’t in a position or phase of the race where he was clearly winning or in a duel for the win like the timing of the mechanical for Mathieu when he was in a direct duel with Wout for the win. Correct me if I’m wrong because I’m doubting myself now.

He might have been stronger on those occasions but it wasn’t in any way overly clear in my view. But that’s my view ofc. We can argue the reasons for my view vs your view to the ground. Agree to disagree.

Secondly, I didn’t say Mathieu lost because it was his second race. I said you COULD argue/excuse his loss due to that fact, and I wouldn’t totally disagree with that argument. Also like has already been mentioned, Piddy started 2 weeks earlier, not one.

Lastly, Eli has indeed had some bad luck. However, again, I’ve never had the impression he could beat Mathieu in any race where he didn’t have any problems.
 
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I also sort of wondered that re sandbagging...however, I don't see MVDP going into the red every race, and he knows that Wout is legit competition, regardless of where he places.

An interesting subplot this year has been how the the road racing season played out vis-a-vis the CX season. Wout had an incredible road year whereas Mathieu, as you say, merely had a very good one (great by almost anyone else's standards, of course). I thought that would translate to CX -- maybe it has, a little, but Wout has not had the CX season I was expecting.

Also regarding world's (aka the Dutch vs Belgian championships with a British wildcard), I'm sure Mathieu will taper a bit if he thinks he's coming in overcooked.
You mean you expected more from Wout? If so, he rode the Tour barely 3-4 months ago, what makes you think that would make him a (much) better cyclocrosser? He's become a better overall rider for sure, and imo he's shown a similar progression in the field the past couple of weeks. Obviously last year should not be taken into account, but remember that he lost to Aerts in the Belgian nationals 2 years ago.

That would never happen to Jumbo-Wout.
 
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Highly doubt there's any "sandbagging" going on between Wout and MVDP. Do you really think Wout enjoys getting his arse kicked in World Cup races or any head to head race bike vs. MVDP for that matter? If you want to be known as the best you have to win more than just one race, even if it is the WC's. As for engines, one could argue that Wout may have a bigger diesel, but on the flip side he doesn't have MVDP's explosive power that can completely detonate a race in less than a lap. As for technical skills, guys like Pidcock and Nys may have the tricks, etc., but neither of them or anyone else comes close to MVDP when it comes to carrying speed through corners/over barriers/obstacles - and that is what really matters. It's fun to argue all this stuff, but the fact remains that MVDP pretty much wins 90% of the cross races he enters regardless of the course or competition.
 
I don't think Wout is sandbagging per se, but with him, i don't feel the same need to win even in minor races, which Mathieu certainly does have. Wout can be rather pragmatic at times. He's already leading the overall in the World Cup, Mathieu poses no threat and knowing a course is too technical to assume he can beat Mathieu (unless he has a mechanical or bad day) could be enough for him to just follow the wheels of Aerts, Pidcock or Vantourenhout, and just ride away in the last 2 laps. I wouldn't call that sandbagging, but Wout does do that sometimes.

Remember 2017-2018 when Mathieu became ultra dominant and Wout barely won anything. None of the pundits and experts gave Wout a chance in hell leading up to the WCC. The only guy who knew what was up, was Adrie van der Poel, who told Belgian media (during Extra Time Koers i think) that Wout was chosing his battles wisely, was clearly getting stronger towards the WCC, and was cherry picking races to test himself. In those races the difference was only 8, 10 or 12 seconds, while everybody was looking at the massive difference in the other races. What happened at the WCC was one of the most dominant displays of superiority of any WCC i can recall.

Ofcourse Wout doesn't like losing, but he's smart enough not to fight windmills.
 
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I don't think Wout is sandbagging per se, but with him, i don't feel the same need to win even in minor races, which Mathieu certainly does have. Wout can be rather pragmatic at times. He's already leading the overall in the World Cup, Mathieu poses no threat and knowing a course is too technical to assume he can beat Mathieu (unless he has a mechanical or bad day) could be enough for him to just follow the wheels of Aerts, Pidcock or Vantourenhout, and just ride away in the last 2 laps. I wouldn't call that sandbagging, but Wout does do that sometimes.

Remember 2017-2018 when Mathieu became ultra dominant and Wout barely won anything. None of the pundits and experts gave Wout a chance in hell leading up to the WCC. The only guy who knew what was up, was Adrie van der Poel, who told Belgian media (during Extra Time Koers i think) that Wout was chosing his battles wisely, was clearly getting stronger towards the WCC, and was cherry picking races to test himself. In those races the difference was only 8, 10 or 12 seconds, while everybody was looking at the massive difference in the other races. What happened at the WCC was one of the most dominant displays of superiority of any WCC i can recall.

Ofcourse Wout doesn't like losing, but he's smart enough not to fight windmills.
It doesn’t sound right. Wout may be aiming for the Worlds and therefore are not at his very best at the moment - as hypothesised before his win in Valkenburg 2018. It could be the case but more likely MVDP overstretched and was not on his best that day. The course and the conditions were perfect for Wout and he took it.

In 2019 the conditions in Bogense favoured technical skill and MVDP had a different approach to the races leading up to the Worlds. As an effect MVDP won decisively.

in 2020 Dubendorf MVDP again put down the hammer and showed splendid form. Wout was fair to say not on his best day although the conditions should have favoured him.

Watching the Hulst race - super technical course conditions with slippery corners and off-cambers - it was all too apparent that when a race is fast, technical and tricky no one can match Van der Poel. He had the three fastest lap times and 15 seconds faster than the best lap of Wout. I am sure Wout did his best to go as fast as possible at least beginning to mid point of the race but just couldn’t go faster.

It will be very interesting to see if Wout can pull something extra for Ostende but I think that MVDP learned his lesson in Valkenburg.
 
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I don't think Wout is sandbagging per se, but with him, i don't feel the same need to win even in minor races, which Mathieu certainly does have. Wout can be rather pragmatic at times. He's already leading the overall in the World Cup, Mathieu poses no threat and knowing a course is too technical to assume he can beat Mathieu (unless he has a mechanical or bad day) could be enough for him to just follow the wheels of Aerts, Pidcock or Vantourenhout, and just ride away in the last 2 laps. I wouldn't call that sandbagging, but Wout does do that sometimes.

Remember 2017-2018 when Mathieu became ultra dominant and Wout barely won anything. None of the pundits and experts gave Wout a chance in hell leading up to the WCC. The only guy who knew what was up, was Adrie van der Poel, who told Belgian media (during Extra Time Koers i think) that Wout was chosing his battles wisely, was clearly getting stronger towards the WCC, and was cherry picking races to test himself. In those races the difference was only 8, 10 or 12 seconds, while everybody was looking at the massive difference in the other races. What happened at the WCC was one of the most dominant displays of superiority of any WCC i can recall.

Ofcourse Wout doesn't like losing, but he's smart enough not to fight windmills.
I get what you're saying about the difference in mentalities. Reminds me a lot of the Prost-Senna rivalry. Two massively and equally talented guys in terms of physical talent that won with much different mental approaches. Both brought the same drive for perfection to the preparation, but once behind the wheel in racing/qualifying they had completely different approaches. Unfortunately, Wout and MVDP are not different enough to create a rivalry that had the same level of out and out intensity of Senna/Prost, but still an unbelievable rivalry. SB and Roubaix could be two good ones in the immediate future. MVDP will be chomping at the bit for payback at SB and Roubaix is built for a head to head battle between them.
 
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I get what you're saying about the difference in mentalities. Reminds me a lot of the Prost-Senna rivalry. Two massively and equally talented guys in terms of physical talent that won with much different mental approaches. Both brought the same drive for perfection to the preparation, but once behind the wheel in racing/qualifying they had completely different approaches. Unfortunately, Wout and MVDP are not different enough to create a rivalry that had the same level of out and out intensity of Senna/Prost, but still an unbelievable rivalry. SB and Roubaix could be two good ones in the immediate future. MVDP will be chomping at the bit for payback at SB and Roubaix is built for a head to head battle between them.
Massively off topic this but I don’t think anyone can mention Senna and Prost in the same breath in terms of ‘talent’, unless of course you’re referring to how talented Prost was at manoeuvring teams to get a seat in the best car?

VdP v WvA discussion… the battle we were robbed of recently was at the X2O Trophy (Herentals) where Wout raced with real intent and IMO would’ve won even w/o Mathieu’s puncture. Not sure what happened in Baal as expected that to be a good contest?
 
Genuine question: I’ve still not seen a lot of MVPs riding compared to WVA’s road appearances, but from what I’m reading here and in other articles, on the road MVP is really well suited to do well (or perhaps dominate) at races like RVV and Amstel because he’ll so good at all the short climbs, repeated sprints out or all the corners (on those courses), and also wields a great finishing sprint. But does that translate to him matching WVA at Roubaix, where the biggest factors can be staying upright (they both should fare well compared to full-time roadies) and sustained power output? Of course, reading the race is also important there, but I don’t which of those two get the edge in that department. Thanks—starting to look forward to the Spring Classics season!

ed. Ah, sorry if this isn’t the right thread— I was following up Senna’s post about SB and Roubaix.
 
Massively off topic this but I don’t think anyone can mention Senna and Prost in the same breath in terms of ‘talent’, unless of course you’re referring to how talented Prost was at manoeuvring teams to get a seat in the best car?

VdP v WvA discussion… the battle we were robbed of recently was at the X2O Trophy (Herentals) where Wout raced with real intent and IMO would’ve won even w/o Mathieu’s puncture. Not sure what happened in Baal as expected that to be a good contest?
Mick: Personally, I agree with your comment about Senna being on a different level to Prost (especially in qualifying and wet weather driving), but there are some who would argue that "The Professor" at least matched him in racecraft. And no doubt he was a better politician, as you suggest. You have to say though, that when they had equal cars (at McLaren in 88 and 89) Prost did about as well as anyone could do trying to match Senna's performance. IMO both Herentals and Baal were the type of courses that played to MVDP's strengths. Looked to me like he had Herentals well in hand, and in Baal he basically just needed one "hot lap" to make the necessary difference. As an MVDP fan though, I am a bit worried about Ostend - looks like a lot of running and slogging in the sand. If they are both on top form, I see it being very close.
 
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