The Clash: van Aert vs van der Poel in road cycling

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On Sunday April 17th, we saw another clash between two of the greatest cyclists of the current generation. Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert faced each other (and 173 others) in the 2022 Paris-Roubaix, It’s time to look at performances (road-cycling) and results in races they both raced in. Stats are covered as well in the WielerOrakel podcast (Dutch).

Career performances on the road

How did Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel perform in their road-career so far? MVDP is leading with 36 victories against 33 wins of van Aert. Van Aert finished more often on the podium of a race as well as top-10. Relative to the amount of professional races they have raced, van der Poel (170 results) is out-performing van Aert. MVPD finished top-10 in half of all his races against 42% for WVA. The Dutchman finished top-3 in one third of his results and one-fifth (22%) was a victory. Wout won 14% of all 236 races he participated in.

Incredible stats compared to all other active pros, it seems like WVA and MVDP reinforce eachother to become the best, to be the best. Every time again.

Career results of MVDP and WVA

Results in one-day races

Let’s look into more depth to the results in one-day races. Mathieu van der Poel participated in 11 monuments and finished top-10 in 10, van Aert participated in 12 monuments and finished top-10 in 9. MVDP is leading over WVA with 2 victories in monuments against 1 win for WVA (WVA in MSR’20, MVDP in RVV’20 and ’22). They have both won 6 one-day races at UWT-level.. Van Aert won 6 out of 34 races while MVDP raced in 22 UWT-level one-day races. In total MVDP won 2 more one-day races (12) than van Aert (10), excluding national championships.

Results in one-day races of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel
Results in one-day races of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel

In the figure below, the number of top-results is shown for Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel as share of the total number of one-day races they participated in. In monuments van der Poel has a slightly better record with a larger % of his monuments finished top-3 or top-10. In one-day races at UWT-level, they are performing on a comparable level with 41% of top-3 results. Both titans have an impressive share of top-results in one-day races. They both finished top-3 in more than 40% of all races they started and top-10 in more than 60%.

Results in one-day races of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel (relative)

Results in stage-races

The careers of MVDP and WVA are focused around the classics, but in recent years they have been participating in several stage-races as well. One could argue they race ‘as preparation for the classics’, but considering the results in the 2021-Tour de France that’s no longer a valid statement.

Results in stage races of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert
Results in stage races of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert made an impressive GC-effort in Tirreno Adriatico (2021) and van der Poel won Benelux-Tour which suits classic-specialists very well. Van Aert won 12 (out of 81) stages in UWT-level stage races so far, van der Poel 8 (out of 30). MVDP on the other hand received more leader-jerseys in UWT-level races. It should be noted that WVA and MVDP have different race-approach in stage-races. Van Aert has been racing several stage-races (and GrandTours) with the main focus to help his teammate Primoz Roglic while van der Poel is not racing many stages as a domestique/ without the ambition to race for the win.

Arguably both will participate in more stage-races the coming years, to enrich their palmares with impressive victories and create beautiful cycling memories.


Finally, what about the one-day races they both participated in? Let’s take a look at the showdowns (ProCyclingStats) in their careers. They raced against eachother in 21 one-day races. The first clash was Ronde van Limburg 2014. From 2019 onwards they started racing in the big classics together when van der Poel’s team was situated at ProConti-level.

Clashes in one-day races of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert
Clashes in one-day races of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert

15 out of those 22 races were at UWT-level and 8 times the showdown was in a monument. After Sunday, the Tour of Flanders will be the race in which MVDP and WVA faced eachother most often: 4 times. In 14 out of the 22 one-day races, Mathieu van der Poel had a better result than Wout van Aert and also in the big-races Mathieu is leading. Van der Poel finished higher in 5 out of the 8 monuments they raced together.

Clashes throughout the years:
2014 – 1
2017 – 3
2018 – 2
2019 – 3
2020 – 5
2021 – 6
2022 – 2

Results of MVDP and WVA in one-day races.
Results of MVDP and WVA in one-day races.

When van Aert and van der Poel are both at the start of a one-day race, it’s pretty sure they’re both there with the best. Some facts about the races in which they both took part:

  • Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel both participated in 22 one-day races, 16 of those in big races since 2019 and 8 monuments.
  • Both rivals finished all one-day races they both participated in.
  • Mathieu finished beter in 14 clashes, Wout in 8. In monuments it’s 5-3 for Mathieu.
  • Since 2019, Mathieu won 3 races in which both he and Wout participated (Amstel Gold Race’19, Ronde van Vlaanderen’20 and Strade Bianche’21), Wout won 2 clashes (Milano-Sanremo’20 and Strade Bianche’20)
  • In 19 out of the 22 clashes in their career at least one of them finished top-5 (all except Elfstedenronde ’18, World Championships ’21 and Gent-Wevelgem’20).
  • In 12 out of the 16 clashes since 2019, on of them was on the podium (not in Gent-Wevelgem’20, World Championships ’21, Ronde van Vlaanderen’19, Gent-Wevelgem’19).
  • Mathieu finished 11 times top-3 in a showdown (7 times since 2019), WVA 10 times (6 times in past 3 seasons). In 4 occasions they both finished on the podium: Ronde van Vlaanderen’20, Ride Bruges’17, European Championships’18, Dwars door het Hageland ’17
  • Worst result for Mathieu in big races where Wout also participated is 15th (Strade 2020)
  • Only 2 big races where they did not both finish top-15 (Wout 58th in Amstel Gold Race’19 and 29th in Gent-Wwevelgem’19).
  • There is only one clash where they both finished outside the top-10: Elfstedenronde’18 in which MVDP finished 22nd and Wout van Aert 82nd.

Probably we have to wait for the next clash in a one-day race until 2023. Let’s see what the 2022 GrandTours will bring us. Will they both be at their best in the 2022 Tour de France?

In de WielerOrakel Podcast verheugen wielergekken Tom en Thomas zich op de koers met wisselende gastoptredens van databrein Arjan Zoer (@ZoerCyclingStat) en statswonder Daniël (@StatsOnCycling).

Verplichte kost als je wielerpoule je lief is.

Note: Cycling Statistics (@statsoncycling) is a regular guest in the ‘WielerOrakel podcast (WielerOrakel podcast on Spotify)’, a Dutch podcast in which cycling-fans Tom and Thomas will rejoice in the next big races on the cycling calendar. The podcast will feature guest-appearances of Arjan Zoer (ZoerCyclingStat) and us (StatsOnCycling).


Published by statsoncycling

Cycling Statistics is an initiative by Daniël Herbers. From Maastricht (Netherlands) he talks and speculates about performances and developments in cycling with fellow cycling-addicts Jesper, Sjef and Sander. Cycling Statistics (@statsoncycling) aims to share and highlight unique performances and provide useful insights in male pro-cycling. Daniël is a runner and biker, lives with his wife and three children in Maastricht and is employed at Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek).

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