Johan Museeuw, a former Belgian cycling champion, has given his own perspective on the ongoing rivalry between Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. Museeuw, known as “The Lion of Flanders,” asserted that while both athletes are extremely talented, Van der Poel has a certain ruthlessness that distinguishes him from Van Aert.
Museeuw’s thoughts on the competition between Van der Poel and Van Aert were underlined due to their performance in recent races. The former cyclist shared his belief that Van der Poel’s aggressive racing style and his thirst for victory make him a major challenge for Van Aert. He highlighted that Van der Poel’s competitiveness and determination has given him an edge over Van Aert, who, according to Museeuw, lacks the same instinct for victory.
Museeuw drew on his own experience as a pro cyclist, recalling how his competitiveness and drive for success were some of his greatest assets. He suggested that Van Aert could benefit from a bit more of this competitive spirit to overcome the challenge posed by Van der Poel. He suggested that while Van Aert’s ability and technical skills were beyond reproach, the lack of an aggressive streak may be holding him back from reaching his full potential.
Van der Poel’s victories in races such as the Tour de France and the cyclocross world championships were highlighted by Museeuw as examples of his winning mentality. Despite acknowledging the impressive cycling skills of both competitors, he specifically pointed out that Van der Poel’s determination to win, even in the face of tough competition, is what makes him stand out.
Museeuw stated that his comments did not stem from a place of criticism or bias towards either racer. Instead, he mentioned that his observations were purely based on his experience as a former professional cyclist. Furthermore, while Museeuw emphasised Van der Poel’s ruthlessness as a competitor, he did not disparage the talent or efforts of his Belgian compatriot Van Aert.
The former cyclist also contemplated on the impact of their rivalry on the world of cycling. He recognised the dual as one of the greatest in the sport’s history, stating that the competition between the two athletes was beneficial for cycling as it added an element of excitement and uncertainty to races. It’s one that’s kept pace through all of the age groups as they developed and from the world of cyclocross into the road peloton.
Neither Van der Poel nor Van Aert has responded to Museeuw’s observation yet. However, it is clear that the rivalry between the two athletes has caught the attention of many in the cycling world, including former Paris Roubaix champions like Museeuw. As the competitiveness between these two racers continues, it will be interesting to see how this rivalry evolves and the impact it has on future races.