The World Cup circuit in Hoogerheide bears the signature of Adrie van der Poel, father of one of the top favourites. The Dutchman talks about the organization of such a World Cup, the key points and the criticism of his double cap: “I never walk around with the idea that it is a course for X or Y.”
Hoogerheide is more or less the backyard of the Van der Poel family. Father Adrie takes care of the construction of the World Cup course.
“Blood, sweat and tears? Easy is different”, laughs the Dutchman, himself world champion in 1996.
“We had some setbacks with the weather, but we started on time. Fortunately, it hasn’t rained much in recent days and we were able to deliver everything neatly.”
When is a World Cup a success for a course builder? “Very simple: if there are no accidents. The rest is secondary. It is important that we do not end up in the red, but no accidents is our priority.”
The stairs are one of the last hurdles to the finish.
“10 days ago you couldn’t walk here”
As always in the cross, the difficulty of a course depends on the weather. Currently, the World Cup in Hoogerheide seems to be a flying meeting.
“There’s nothing you can do about that”, father Van der Poel shrugs. “Rain is still predicted, but not enough for a muddy track. Please note: 10 days ago you could not walk here.”
Van der Poel senior designates the forest as the focal point. There are also some bridges. “It will be debilitating,” he predicts.
“You think it’s still going, but one lap later you have to pay attention. I think it’s harder than everyone thinks. It will weigh in the end.”
The bridges will weigh on, predicts Adrie van der Poel.
I think the course is harder than everyone thinks. It will weigh in the end.
A lot has already been done about the beams. They are now on a mountain and are high, so an extra difficulty.
“I’m not in favor of beams anyway and I didn’t want them in the course until the chairman came up with an amount from the sponsor. Then I had to tack too.”
They are not in the usual place. “I moved them, but that was already decided six months ago. Beams have no function if you put them where you have to walk through the mud.”
Will the bars help decide profit and loss? “It is still difficult to get to the finish afterwards. If you want to be sure at the beams, you have to have 10 seconds. You will not win with a lead of 2 seconds.”
“With the pros it will be very close and it will be decided by mistakes. However, it seems to me that it will come to a sprint here, because it is harder than they think.”
The beams are a topic of conversation in Hoogerheide.
“I don’t look at riders when I build the track”
Of course, Adrie van der Poel cannot cut the family ties. The statement that as a course builder he could lend a hand to his son visibly annoys him.
“I have decided today that I will no longer organize the World Cup in Hoogerheide. And nowhere else,” he raises his voice.
History teaches us that son Mathieu does not win when father Adrie is at the drawing board: Hoogerheide 2014 (promises), Bieles 2017 and Valkenburg 2018.
“I build a course with the resources I have and I don’t look at riders. I look at the finish, tents, material stations and parking lots, without thinking that a corner is in favor of Mathieu or anyone else.”
“I build the way I think it should, that it’s exciting and fun. I never walk around thinking it’s for X or Y.”
But who will win on Sunday: X or Y? “We will have two world champions for the first time: it will not be visible to the naked eye. They will cross the line together.”
“Imagine”, Van der Poel then laughs away his statement. “Maybe Wout van Aert is a bit more favourite, 51-49. Although Mathieu is much better than in that back period. I keep it at 50-50.”
We will have two world champions for the first time: it will not be visible to the naked eye. They cross the line together.