Van der Poel crosses the finish line ahead of Van Aert.BAS CZERWINSKI (AFP)
The new dimension of cycling.
At minute three they are already alone.
An hour's film ahead and a drone chasing them like a gust of wind as they enter the dark forest, trees bare of winter, like a spirit fleeing from, headless horsemen in a Tim Burton movie.
Gray sky of the North Sea.
Behind, immersed in their battles, the others, metal companions, the crazy ones who only think about cyclocross.
A manga comic too.
Two protagonists shaved, clean.
rosy cheeks, one;
dark complexion, other
More than 40,000 spectators (30 euros for general admission) around the fences who only breathe the atmosphere and drink beer that warms them up and see everything on giant screens.
Rock concert atmosphere in Monterey.
VIP grandstands and drunken yelling, just like on the
green in Scottsdale.
The whole life.
Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert alone.
Two children at recess, when things are more serious than ever in life, and they mark her.
An eternal bite.
And the defeat is harder.
Van Aert, 1.90 meters tall, huge, dejected, elbows bent on the handlebars.
Dark look behind the black glasses.
Like Roger de Vlaeminck, who is adored by the grandparents of today's children, his Brooklyn bubblegum jersey, his muddy face, the bad days.
Still, everyone wants to be Van Aert;
everyone wants to be Van der Poel too, the one with the pink cheeks.
The winner who raises the bent arm.
The winner by tenths of a second after an hour-long battle over pink and blue ramps, 34 steps with the bike on my shoulder that ascend two at a time, ups and downs, mud, to the 26-meter-high hill, the crest of Brabant, the Netherlands, Hoogerheide.
The fifth world title for the son of Adrie, the grandson of Poulidor.
Van Aert, the other giant, follows in three.
Third, 12s behind, was the Belgian Eli Iserbyt, the best of the rest, the best specialist.
Felipe Orts, the first Spaniard, was 19th;
Kevin Suarez, 30th.
Side by side in the last corner.
Nothing has been able to take them off until then.
Neither the impetus of the winner, nor the analytical reason of the defeated.
Side by side they jump, acrobats, the last planks, the tenth turn, the last 34 steps.
Side by side they round the last curve.
They enter the asphalt.
In front of them 200 meters uphill, at 6%.
Just over 12 seconds full, full.
Pedals of fire
Faster, tremendous, space-consuming those of Van der Poel, who knows that this is his advantage, a sprint starting almost from nothing.
Van Aert, much bigger, more powerful, is slower.
The advantage of him is the released sprints.
But when they start it they are practically stopped.
Others, the normal ones, would take the opportunity to catch their breath;
they, the movie freaks, only think about shooting away,
as if the curve hid a hammer that launches them.
Van der Poel, in the town of his father, who has drawn the circuit, the ramps, the mazes, the stairs, the end, more than anyone else.
"I was very relaxed on the last lap," says Van der Poel, the poet, they say, of the mud, the unconscious who is carried away by pride and inspiration, and by his undeniable technical superiority, and he doesn't always see himself like that .
Sometimes force can only be defeated with reason.
And he also knows how to be reasonable.
A Cyclocross World Championship against Van Aert is not just any race.
Only, perhaps, a Tour of Flanders or a Roubaix, a one-on-one with the Belgian on the cobblestones or in the mountains, could match it.
“Everyone thought that I would be nervous and attack first, but I had already decided to wait for the sprint.
I knew I had to wait.
And I don't know how to explain it.
I wouldn't know how to describe how I feel.
I'm super happy.
I think it's the best win of my life."
The new dimension of cycling, which is already moving to asphalt, is born from a unique rivalry.
Two child prodigies who met in their first race more than 10 years ago.
Selfish and generous.
His navel and the happiness of the fans.
They are both 28. As if there had been a second Mozart born on the same day.
One in a million years, but two at a time.
“Now we fight.
We have been like this for more than 10 years, and we can barely stand it or speak to each other”, says the winner with light eyes, the blue light in his gaze, freed from the glasses, free.
“But our rivalry has marked cycling.
And I am sure that in a few years we will sit together, and proudly discuss our battles.
Now it's time to follow them on the road”.
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