Race Thread

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Both have their strengths in which they are better than their rival. Neither have real weaknesses, though compared to each other, you could say Wout's weakness is his technique, Mathieu doesn't really have any weakness and is the most balanced and allround rider of the bunch. Wout is a better runner, though Mathieu is still an excellent runner. Wout has more power, though Mathieu is not far behind and both are miles ahead of the rest. Wout seems to handle extreme weather conditions better and i also still give him an edge when it comes to fighting spirit and mentality. But Mathieu is so far superior on a technical level, and even if he is somewhat behind Wout on a few other key points, technique is more often than not the deciding factor, especially on a fast course. One sliding, having to put your foot on the ground and get going again, can cost you 3 seconds. A second and third mistake, you might not make up for.

This year we've seen more bad weather than the past few years, hard terrain, fast courses. They favored Mathieu in a way nobody could come close. In bad weather and hard conditions on slow courses, Mathieu becomes human. But even then, probably only one guy can beat him.
Agree with you on all points Logic - except the "fighting spirit and mentality" part. Wout seems to get a lot of credit for "hanging tough" in instances like SB when he fell off his bike in the finale, or after his short-lived raly at Roubaix after crashing, or lots of cross races vs. MVDP where he never gives in but MVDP still beats him comfortably. That's all fine, but for my money MVDP is much more of a "killer" than Wout - and that's why his win rate across the board is a lot higher. Second obviously means nothing to MVDP. Also, MVDP is always willing to completely throw caution to the wind to go for the win and fairly often does stuff that no one else in the world would pull off. His dominance across three disciplines is in itself something pretty extraordinary. None of this means MVDP will ultimately have the better career than Wout, but to me (a fan of MTB, cross and road) he is just on a different level from anyone else.
 
Both have their strengths in which they are better than their rival. Neither have real weaknesses, though compared to each other, you could say Wout's weakness is his technique, Mathieu doesn't really have any weakness and is the most balanced and allround rider of the bunch. Wout is a better runner, though Mathieu is still an excellent runner. Wout has more power, though Mathieu is not far behind and both are miles ahead of the rest. Wout seems to handle extreme weather conditions better and i also still give him an edge when it comes to fighting spirit and mentality. But Mathieu is so far superior on a technical level, and even if he is somewhat behind Wout on a few other key points, technique is more often than not the deciding factor, especially on a fast course. One sliding, having to put your foot on the ground and get going again, can cost you 3 seconds. A second and third mistake, you might not make up for.

This year we've seen more bad weather than the past few years, hard terrain, fast courses. They favored Mathieu in a way nobody could come close. In bad weather and hard conditions on slow courses, Mathieu becomes human. But even then, probably only one guy can beat him.
Agree with you on all points Logic - except the "fighting spirit and mentality" part. Wout seems to get a lot of credit for "hanging tough" in instances like SB when he fell off his bike in the finale, or after his short-lived raly at Roubaix after crashing, or lots of cross races vs. MVDP where he never gives in but MVDP still beats him comfortably. That's all fine, but for my money MVDP is much more of a "killer" than Wout - and that's why his win rate across the board is a lot higher. Second obviously means nothing to MVDP. Also, MVDP is always willing to completely throw caution to the wind to go for the win and fairly often does stuff that no one else in the world would pull off. His dominance across three disciplines is in itself something pretty extraordinary. None of this means MVDP will ultimately have the better career than Wout, but to me (a fan of MTB, cross and road) he is just on a different level from anyone else.
 
Erwin Verwecken did a course preview. Very 'unmuddy' on the infield of the horse track but alot of deep wet beach sand in the other side of the bridge. Don't fully understand dutch, but at one point I think it was about the tide and how a couple of meters higher or lower could be the difference between running and riding.

View: https://youtu.be/z5AKGcAYZBg
Seeing that video the course looks quite easy but it was difficult to judge some of the grassy sections and it's also about speed. The sand cannot be a major problem for the best riders unless it changes completely. Hulst and Antwerpen looked harder.
 
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Agree with you on all points Logic - except the "fighting spirit and mentality" part. Wout seems to get a lot of credit for "hanging tough" in instances like SB when he fell off his bike in the finale, or after his short-lived raly at Roubaix after crashing, or lots of cross races vs. MVDP where he never gives in but MVDP still beats him comfortably. That's all fine, but for my money MVDP is much more of a "killer" than Wout - and that's why his win rate across the board is a lot higher. Second obviously means nothing to MVDP. Also, MVDP is always willing to completely throw caution to the wind to go for the win and fairly often does stuff that no one else in the world would pull off. His dominance across three disciplines is in itself something pretty extraordinary. None of this means MVDP will ultimately have the better career than Wout, but to me (a fan of MTB, cross and road) he is just on a different level from anyone else.
There are other examples. Remember WCC 2016, when both lost a lot of time early in the race (their wheels got tangled). Mathieu put his head down, and Wout started chasing van der Haar, caught him, and became worldchampion. In 2018 Wout rode away from Mathieu, who again put his head down, got caught by Vantourenhout, en nearly got caught by Aerts as well. If you look at their careers, there are plenty more examples of Mathieu giving up, and Wout being a fighter. His comeback after a near-career-ending injury is also testament of that. As were his efforts in the TDF last summer. On the other hand, it is true that since Amstel, it seems like Mathieu has learned that it can pay of to keep fighting.

I completely agree if you look at the three disciplines, what Mathieu has done/is doing, is unique and deserves all the praise. But it doesn't take away anything of what Wout is doing (mainly on the road), where i find him more impressive than Mathieu.
 
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Seeing that video the course looks quite easy but it was difficult to judge some of the grassy sections and it's also about speed. The sand cannot be a major problem for the best riders unless it changes completely. Hulst and Antwerpen looked harder.
I'd say from the Belgian Champs a couple of years ago that the hippodrome area is more of an area for recovery after the bridges and sand. It will depend on the weather. If it's frosty or damp, then the hippodrome might cut up and the sand may just form ruts that are easy to ride, however they may also take some sort of tractor, with a roller or plough, round the beach to drag any ruts out in order to make in harder. I think the bridges could be quite decisive aswell as they are about 21% for 10 or 15 seconds, twice each lap. If someone really attacks those early one in the race, they might pay for that later on. Plus the second is straight from the beach to the bridge, meaning having the right gear when they dismount in order to get on in the sand and be able to pedal up the steep ramp.
 
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There are other examples. Remember WCC 2016, when both lost a lot of time early in the race (their wheels got tangled). Mathieu put his head down, and Wout started chasing van der Haar, caught him, and became worldchampion. In 2018 Wout rode away from Mathieu, who again put his head down, got caught by Vantourenhout, en nearly got caught by Aerts as well. If you look at their careers, there are plenty more examples of Mathieu giving up, and Wout being a fighter. His comeback after a near-career-ending injury is also testament of that. As were his efforts in the TDF last summer. On the other hand, it is true that since Amstel, it seems like Mathieu has learned that it can pay of to keep fighting.

I completely agree if you look at the three disciplines, what Mathieu has done/is doing, is unique and deserves all the praise. But it doesn't take away anything of what Wout is doing (mainly on the road), where i find him more impressive than Mathieu.
Agreed on all points. MVDP has definitely has learned from his failures throughout his career, and that is one of the key traits that the absolute elite of the elite possess - they are their own worst critics, and are really never satisfied with their own performance - win or lose. Wout's comeback has been incredibly impressive, and based off his accomplishments in 2020 he's no doubt a more "valuable" road guy. I don't think you'll ever see MVDP doing tempo for GC contenders (and much lesser riders than Wout and MVDP) like Wout is willing to do. And I doubt you'll ever see him doing the work necessary to be a top TT guy. But you will see MVDP doing some pretty mind boggling stuff on the MTB - hopefully.
 
Funny anecdote: my oldest son (11) had to write a letter to a 'famous person' for school. They said "don't pick football players because they never write back". He chose Mathieu. He wrote he is a fan and watches all his races etc., which is all a blatant lie because all he watches (despite my best efforts) is youtube and tiktok. Anyway, yesterday, he got a nice little letter back from MVDP. I'll make him watch the race Sunday :)

Van der Poel lives 10 km away from us, by the way, and Van Aert 15 km. I've never seen them train though (but my dad has).
 
Funny anecdote: my oldest son (11) had to write a letter to a 'famous person' for school. They said "don't pick football players because they never write back". He chose Mathieu. He wrote he is a fan and watches all his races etc., which is all a blatant lie because all he watches (despite my best efforts) is youtube and tiktok. Anyway, yesterday, he got a nice little letter back from MVDP. I'll make him watch the race Sunday :)

Van der Poel lives 10 km away from us, by the way, and Van Aert 15 km. I've never seen them train though (but my dad has).
Nice of Mathieu to write back. Pressure’s on him now to make your son a real fan on race-day and we all know how he is with pressure :p

My son is 2. I really hope that by the time he’s at that age the tiktok-hype is dead and buried, though I’m certain this is a recurring generational thing. I remember my parents not being fond of Myspace back in the day.
 
Seeing that video the course looks quite easy but it was difficult to judge some of the grassy sections and it's also about speed. The sand cannot be a major problem for the best riders unless it changes completely. Hulst and Antwerpen looked harder.
It's not the most interesting course we've seen for a Worlds course, but neither were Bogense or Dubendorf - mainly flat & featureless with the only climbing on bridges. This has the added challenge of the sand however - and one hopes it's rideable.
 
It's not the most interesting course we've seen for a Worlds course, but neither were Bogense or Dubendorf - mainly flat & featureless with the only climbing on bridges. This has the added challenge of the sand however - and one hopes it's rideable.
I have watched the race at Bogense several times. The impression may be that the course was relatively dull but the race shows that it had its merits. There were quite a few sections that challenged the riders and the slicky off-camber where Van der Poel attacked Van Aert was relally decisive.

On a separate note - race course design is something that's been on my mind for a while. Does it matter a lot or is it rather the competition that makes the race interesting? Or maybe the conditions more than the actual course? And also what do we know what the riders think about that? Maybe a separate thread...
 
I have watched the race at Bogense several times. The impression may be that the course was relatively dull but the race shows that it had its merits. There were quite a few sections that challenged the riders and the slicky off-camber where Van der Poel attacked Van Aert was relally decisive.

On a separate note - race course design is something that's been on my mind for a while. Does it matter a lot or is it rather the competition that makes the race interesting? Or maybe the conditions more than the actual course? And also what do we know what the riders think about that? Maybe a separate thread...
A mix of all of those really. A naturally tough course like the Koppenberg is going to shape the race much more easily than a flatter one like s'Hertogenbosch where the euros were. Somewhere like that drains quite well, which allows fast racing. That could give large bunch racing if it was quite flowing with arcing corners and long straights even with the small banks at the back of the course. However, the amount of >90 degree corners make it quite staccato and spreads everything out alot more.

A good example of the changes of course conditions is probably Hamme or Hoogeheide. Hamme has had alsorts of conditions over the years from when it was in a different location at Hamme Zogge and was quite muddy, to where it is now. In the fast, where it is now, has stayed quite dry some years, leading to really fast racing, including the well known 2014edition of the sprint between WvA and MVDP. Whereas,on a course that hasn't changed much, this season's edition in January rather than November lead to mud and caused a bit of running and spread the riders out. Hoogeheide has had everything. Dry conditions like last year, icy/frosty grass like in 2017 or deep mud like the last worlds in 2015. That's a course that has stayed relatively the same since it's start/finish moved out from the town centre and onto the bridge, which has turned into the junction and the 'stairway to heaven'. It's varied from alot of running to fast bunch riding like last year.

In elite Men's we tended to see a hard fast lap, then everyone sat up at the end of the first lap. Now we tend to see a hard first lap and then the race is continued with no real let up. That's been the case since the new generation of the likes of vdp, wva, Sweeck and Vanthourenout have come through. But that's less evident when mvdp and wva aren't around.
 
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Funny anecdote: my oldest son (11) had to write a letter to a 'famous person' for school. They said "don't pick football players because they never write back". He chose Mathieu. He wrote he is a fan and watches all his races etc., which is all a blatant lie because all he watches (despite my best efforts) is youtube and tiktok. Anyway, yesterday, he got a nice little letter back from MVDP. I'll make him watch the race Sunday :)

Van der Poel lives 10 km away from us, by the way, and Van Aert 15 km. I've never seen them train though (but my dad has).
That's pretty cool. I'm hoping to get out to Belgium in the next couple of years to catch MVDP and Wout in cross before it's too late. Must be pretty incredible to see those two ripping up a cross course live. I race (recreationally) on the MTB here in Arizona, USA, and always amazed how fast low level pros are - and then to think a guy like MVDP could literally put 5 minutes into them in 90 minutes - accounting for mid/back row starts...Of course on the women's side we have a few gals that are at the very front in Elite UCI MTB.
 
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Don't do it like me, when I booked my trip to Belgium I chose the dates so I could be there to see VDP race in Overijse (one of my favorite circuits). Two weeks or so before the depart, bam, training camp in Spain (much closer to where I live). :p
 
That's pretty cool. I'm hoping to get out to Belgium in the next couple of years to catch MVDP and Wout in cross before it's too late. Must be pretty incredible to see those two ripping up a cross course live. I race (recreationally) on the MTB here in Arizona, USA, and always amazed how fast low level pros are - and then to think a guy like MVDP could literally put 5 minutes into them in 90 minutes - accounting for mid/back row starts...Of course on the women's side we have a few gals that are at the very front in Elite UCI MTB.
Or you could save a little money and travel to Arkansas exactly a year from now:

I' d rather see the world's in Belgium, but Fayetteville is too close to pass up!
 
Super exciting weekend coming up. Sad that the juniors don’t get to race. No good but at least the rest have a chance to make a mark.

Seeing more details of the track (
View: https://youtu.be/Qo7wjlTxZOc
) it should favour Mathieu. The sand looks tough - really, but probably not a massive match for the top 10 elite men riders.

If the grassy sections stay slippery and hard (cold with possibly minus degrees) skill will be critical and albeit Wout has shown an improving curve it is not his forte as is Van der Poel’s.

My prediction is MVDP with Wout closely second and unsurprisingly Pidcock as third but with Iserbyt just edging at fourth. Any bets against :)
 
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Nov 13, 2019
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My prediction is MVDP with Wout closely second and unsurprisingly Pidcock as third but with Iserbyt just edging at fourth. Any bets against :)
The trudge through the sand and over the bridge will suit Wout better and decide the race from my POV…
  1. Wout
  2. Mathieu (+30secs)
  3. Laurens Sweeck (+2mins)
Don’t think this course will suit Piddles… unfortunately
 
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The passage through the sand will definitely be the decisive part of the race. The more I look at the course and see the pros ride it and hear the analysts talk about it the more I’m leaning towards Wout.

The technical sections aren’t technical enough to play to Mathieu’s strengths while the power section, at least from what I’ve seen and heard, seems to play to Wout’s strengths. Especially if they, at some point, have to dismount and run.

The difference is that one mistake in the sand section can make you lose a lot more than a mistake in the “technical” section.

Wout is a better runner and a better sustained power rider imo. I do think Mathieu is the better sand rider (won 11 of the last 13 sandy courses where WvA was also racing) and of course better technically, but this isn’t really comparable to Koksijde where it’s easier to choose a line and rely on technique, this is more straight plowing through the sand it seems.

If they are both in top form than these differences in ability are less visible and it might just come down to one mistake.

My predictions:

  1. WvA
  2. MvDP
  3. Piddy (I think his whole season has been geared towards the worlds and he’s eager to prove he’s true challenger to the big 2)
With that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if Mathieu won either if he’s in top shape and has a clear head. As far as the 3rd spot goes, it has many many challengers. Could be anyone of MvT, Eli, Sweeck, Piddy, Aerts and even Lars.

Ideal scenario would be Wout and Mathieu battling it out in an action-packed edition and a sprint deciding the winner.
 
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Looking at the course, it's a Wout kind of track - were he can put down all that horsepower. You can't ever right Mathieu off unless it's a quagmire - but the course simply doesn't have the technical features that play to his strengths. Pidcock is in a similar position; doesn't have the power of the other two, and his technical skills aren't needed here. In fact, I reckon both of them will only get a hilly, technical track that suits them at the MTB Worlds.
I actually won't be surprised if either Aerts or Sweeck challenge for bronze; they both have the power on the sand sections.

As for the women - who knows? Alvarado is in form, but Brand has been the best rider this season, and has the power for the sand.
 
Still feeling like it's a Van Der Poel kind of day, but I'm prepared to be proved wrong, followed by van Aert and then Sweeck. Don't think Pidcock will have the upper hand on riders like Sweeck, Vanthourenout Aerts and possibly Van Der Haar for the 3rd spot.

Women's I feel Brand is the biggest threat and then Alvarado. Behind those two, I think Cant might pull out something special and come out on top of the riders behind with Betsema, Worst and maybe Honsinger and Kastelijn for third.
 

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