X20 Trofee Koksijde: Wout van Aert romps to victory ahead of Mathieu van der Poel

Shirin van Anrooij masters Koksijde sand dunes to take convincing win ahead of Fem van Empel.

Photo: Jasper Jacobs/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

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Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took an emphatic victory in front of an adoring home crowd in a rain-affected men’s race at the Koksijde round of the X20 Trofee.

Meanwhile, Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise-Trek Lions) conquered the Belgian sand to take victory in the women’s race 15 seconds ahead of Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma).

After a three-way tussle between Van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), and Laurens Sweeck (Crelen-Fristads), the Belgian champion Van Aert struck out on lap four of eight. Earlier attacks by the three leaders had swiftly been nullified, but Van Aert was not to be caught this time.

By the time he entered the penultimate loop around the testing course, which featured some very difficult sand sections, Van Aert had 1:15 on Van der Poel. Having looked a little uncomfortable in some areas earlier in the race, Van Aert was pitch-perfect in the second half, following a bike change, and he would eventually cross the line 1:38 ahead of Van der Poel with Sweeck rounding out the podium.

“It’s always nice to win like this, especially as I was feeling really strong today and I was eager to take this win. In the second half of this race, I think that I showed my form is really good so I could really recover between the sand sections and avoid too many mistakes,” Van Aert said.

Van Anrooij holds off strong chase from Van Empel

Shirin van Anrooij wins in Koksijde
Shirin van Anrooij wins in Koksijde (Photo: Jasper Jacobs/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

After skipping the Baal round earlier in the week, Van Anrooij was fresh for Thursday’s race and she got off to a flying start. She burst clear of her rivals in the early part of the opening lap and didn’t look back.

The Dutch rider looked comfortable on the tricky sand dunes at the seaside town of Koksijde and measured her effort throughout the race. An elite group containing her teammate Lucinda Brand and European champion Van Empel.

Van Empel broke clear of the chase group on the second lap and looked to be reeling Van Anrooij back in over the closing laps as they navigated their way through plenty of backmarkers. However, Van Anrooij held on to beat Van Empel with Brand coming through for third.

“Last year, during the World Cup when I took fourth, I really made a goal out of this race to try and win my first ever world cup. Then it changed to not being a World Cup anymore, but it is such a special race and it’s super cool to win this one,” Van Anrooij said after the race.

U.S. champion Clara Honsinger just missed out on the top 10, riding through to finish 12th.

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