Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) won his fifth out of five rounds in the Bpost Bank Trophy on Saturday afternoon. During the extremely fast Soudal Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium, the 21 year-old Belgian rider stormed away in the sand from World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) with more than two laps to go.
Van Aert strengthens his lead in the Bpost classification up to 4:08 on Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), who finished fourth in Antwerp at 34 seconds.
“Of course I’m pleased with this victory. On a course like today it’s always going to be hard because you don’t know what to expect. Today the differences weren’t big. Only deep into the race when everybody was getting tired I was able to make the difference,” Van Aert told Sporza.
Oddly enough, a mechanical from Van Aert turned the race around in his favour in the seventh of 11 laps. Van Aert was forced to hop off his bike very early on a steep climb while riding in second position behind Van der Poel with more than 10 riders right behind them.
European champion Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) rode in third position and hopped off too, but fourth-placed Michael Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) rode straight into the bike of the Dutch rider. Suddenly the course was blocked and Van der Poel and Van Aert were offered a free bonus. Van der Haar was the biggest victim.
“I was thrown to the ground in an odd way and my arm was blocked. I popped my shoulder half out of the socket, which hurt massively. I needed to sit down to get it back into position. Due to the adrenaline the pain quickly disappeared after two climbs but I was put at distance of course,” Van der Haar told Sporza.
During the two following laps, the gap between the two young leaders and large chase group grew up to 16 seconds. Surprisingly, it was Van der Haar who emerged as best of the rest, bringing Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) and Pauwels back to about 12 seconds. A nice duel seemed to be coming up.
Van Aert rode sober while Van der Poel pleased the crowd at the barriers, scooping the rear-end of his bike sideways. The second time Van Aert watched Van der Poel show off he must’ve had enough, moving into the lead before the long sand sections and switching on his turbo.
“It’s a section that suits me well. On the asphalt I noticed I had a good gap,” Van Aert said. That good gap was a euphemism for nine seconds in half a lap. Van der Haar, Nys and Pauwels trailed Van Aert by half a minute with two laps to go.
If Van der Poel still had any aspiration on the victory, they quickly vanished during the penultimate lap. Van Aert disappeared from sight, clocking the fastest lap time of the day with 5:01 on the 2,500 metre sand course. Van der Poel realized any resistance was futile and focused on second place.
The time-based classification kept Van Aert going at full gas. He captured yet another impressive victory, finishing 23 seconds ahead of Van der Poel. The latter was satisfied with his performance. “Normally I’m not happy with second place. This time I’m pleased to see how my body responds on a hard week of training. I learned from the past and didn’t try to follow him. He’s better right now,” Van der Poel told Sporza.
Half a minute behind Van Aert it was Van der Haar who won the sprint for second place from Pauwels. Nys soft-pedaled to the finish in fifth place at 52 seconds, just ahead of a large group that sprinted for sixth place. Michael Vanthourenhout won that sprint ahead of his teammate Gianni Vermeersch, David van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon), Swiss-champion Julien Taramarcaz (Era Real Estate-Murprotec) and Laurens Sweeck (Era Real Estate-Murprotec).
In the time-based overall classification of the Bpost Trophy, Van Aert leads Pauwels by 4:08. Nys is third at 7:53. Van der Haar (8:51) and Michael Vanthourenhout (8:57) are tight at fourth place. Four riders are in a close battle for sixth place overall with Gianni Vermeersch (10:08), Julien Taramarcaz (10:09), Laurens Sweeck (10:13) and Tim Merlier (10:24). Next year Sven Nys becomes general manager of the Telenet-Fidea team. Their best rider, Tom Meeusen, struggled with a cold and was absent in Antwerp, tumbling from fourth to 10th place overall at 12:54.
The next Bpost round is the Azencross in Loenhout, Belgium, on December 29.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel)||0:58:29|
|2||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned)||0:00:23|
|3||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned)||0:00:31|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||0:00:34|
|5||Sven Nys (Bel)||0:00:52|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:00:54|
|7||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)|
|8||David Van Der Poel (Ned)|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi)|
|10||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)|
|11||Rob Peeters (Bel)||0:00:56|
|12||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:01:10|
|13||Radomir Simunek (Cze)||0:01:16|
|14||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:01:21|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel)||0:01:32|
|16||Philipp Walsleben (Ger)||0:01:53|
|17||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:01:57|
|18||Michael Boros (Cze)||0:02:16|
|19||Niels Wubben (Ned)||0:02:30|
|20||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:02:39|
|21||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned)||0:02:42|
|22||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel)||0:02:57|
|23||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:03:00|
|24||Joeri Adams (Bel)||0:03:18|
|25||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned)||0:03:37|
|26||Kevin Cant (Bel)||0:03:40|
|27||Stijn Huys (Bel)||0:04:23|
|28||Hendrik Sweeck (Bel)||-1|
|29||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)||-2|
|30||Niels Koyen (Bel)|
|31||Paul Oldham (GBr)|
|32||Wouter Goosen (Bel)||-3|
|33||Robert Marion (USA)||-4|