In what was poised to be a well earned and clear victory of the Longines Global Champions Tour Championship, Maikel Van Der Vleuten started the 2023 season strong, chasing the most revered podium position on offer for the year.
The Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) event in Cannes marked a significant milestone in Van Der Vleuten's pursuit of the Championship Title. After clinching victory aboard Marta Ortega's Beauville Z N.O.P., he expressed his commitment to winning the overall championship, stating:
“"I am really giving my all this season to secure the overall victory, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it."”
Van Der Vleuten initially seized the Championship lead in stage two, Miami Beach, narrowly fell to second at stage three in Mexico City, but it was the lead from Madrid [stage four] to London where his domination spanned eight stages, seeming poised for season supremacy. However, fellow Dutchman Harrie Smolders later snatched the top position in Valkenswaard, stage nine. This turn of events raises the question: Can Van Der Vleuten mount a comeback and amass enough points to reclaim the Championship lead after the final stage of 2023, the Longines Global Champions Tour in Riyadh?
LGCT GP’s Jumped = 11
LGCT GP Clears = 5
LGCT GP Double Clears = 2
LGCT GP Podiums = 2
Horses on LGCT GP Podium = 1
LGCT GP Wins = 1
Maikel Van Der Vleuten has competed in 11 out of the 15 LGCT Grand Prix events this season, making a determined effort in his 2023 campaign. His first podium finish? The Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach, where he secured third place behind the two-time winners Katrin Eckermann aboard Cala Mandia, and second place holder Eduardo Alvarez Aznar on Bentley de Sury.
He followed this with a 6th place finish in Mexico City and an 11th place finish in Ramatuelle, St. Tropez. The highlight of his season so far came at the 6th stage of the 2023 Championship Race in Cannes, where he emerged victorious. However, he did not compete in stages 7 and 8, which were held in Stockholm and Paris. Could this decision have hindered his Championship aspirations?
Following a 9th place finishes in both Monaco and A Coruña, Van Der Vlueten’s fortunes took a hit in Riesenbeck, stage 11, where he failed to qualify for the LGCT Grand Prix, ultimately opening the door for Harrie Smolders to accumulate crucial podium finishes and Championship points. His last points-earning stage was a 16th place in Valkenswaard, leaving him in second place with 238 points, 14 points behind the Championship leader Harrie Smolders, and just 2.5 points ahead of Henrik Von Eckermann.
1st Place, Harrie Smolders - 252 Points
2nd Place, Maikel Van Der Vleuten - 238 Points
3rd Place, Henrik Von Eckermann - 235.50 Points
Analysing the Scenarios
How Can Maikel Van Der Vleuten Win the 2023 Longines Global Champions Tour Championship?
With Harrie Smolders leading the way and the consistently strong World Number One, Henrik von Eckermann, narrowly in third place, various scenarios must play out for Maikel to ascend to the top of the podium in Riyadh:
Van Der Vleuten must finish in 1st or 2nd place for a chance at the Championship victory.
If Maikel secures 2nd place, Smolders cannot be among the top 13 riders, and Von Eckermann cannot win.
Should Maikel triumph in the LGCT Grand Prix of Riyadh, Von Eckermann's victory is out of contention, but Smolders cannot finish inside the top 10.
The countdown is underway for one of the most anticipated and fiercely contested stages of the year. While it appeared that both the LGCT and GCL Championships might be decided before the final stage at the midway point, fate had other plans, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown under the glittering Arabian night skies.
Tickets are now on sale for those who wish to watch the action unfold LIVE in front of their eyes, however you can join Global Champions in Riyadh from the comfort of your own home via GCTV!