World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) won the fourth round of the DVV Trophy in Essen, Belgium on Saturday, with a solo ride that gave him his tenth victory of the season. Van Aert put the hammer down in the second of eleven short, fast laps in foggy Essen and his rivals never saw him again.
Van Aert finished well ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and local rider Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea). Mathieu Van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) was hindered by mechanical problems and a spill and so finished well off the pace.
Thanks to his victory, Van Aert strengthens his lead in the time-based classification of the DVV Trophy series. He is now 2:34 ahead of Pauwels.
“It doesn’t matter much to me if it wasn’t an exciting race. It was exciting enough for me to defend a small bonus over Pauwels. Anyway, my legs seem to improve after taking flights (to Spain). Maybe I should do it more often. I seem to benefit from the rest at the training camp,” Van Aert joked when talking to Sporza after the race.
Essen is near the Dutch border and is the hometown of Tom Meeusen and the base for Zdenek Stybar, although the latter skipped this year’s race. Van der Poel lives nearby and went to school in Essen. However this time the two locals quickly ate dust. Meeusen crashed shortly after the start.
“I wanted the hole shot but Van Aert was faster. I was focusing to hop over the planks but rode into a bobble and suddenly found myself on the ground. It was a major bummer. I wanted to turn off and head home,” Meeusen told Sporza. Fortunately Meeusen got back on his bike, started his race at the back of the pack and managed to win a high-speed sprint for third place and a highly cheered place on the podium from his local fans.
Van der Poel had a great start and by the end of the opening lap only Pauwels and European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) were able to hold his and Van Aert’s wheel. However early on in the second lap Van Aert accelerated while Van der Poel suddenly lost ground. A flat rear tyre proved costly and when back on a fresh bike Van der Poel found himself riding in a distant seventeenth position. His race was over but he bravely rode on and chased hard.
In front, Van Aert was able to shake off Aerts and Pauwels. The latter seemed to have great legs but when trying to bridge back up to Van Aert he crashed when trying to hop a wooden step.
“I shouldn’t have been behind Toon Aerts early on. Then the gap maybe wouldn’t have been there. I had to dig deep to bridge back up. That’s why I didn’t hop high enough and crashed,” Pauwels explained to Sporza.
Only three laps had been covered and Van Aert was gone. The first chase group with Pauwels, Aerts and Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) was distanced. Van der Poel was getting back into a good rhythm and tried to find his way through traffic, trailing Van Aert by 25 seconds.
Two laps later Van Aert was about 15 seconds ahead of Pauwels, who managed to shake off the Telenet-Fidea riders. Wietse Bosmans (Beobank-Corendon) was alone in fifth place. His teammate Van der Poel finally had space ahead of him, riding in front of a large chase group in sixth place but still at 24 seconds from Van Aert.
Halfway the fifth lap Van der Poel’s hopes for a podium result ended when he lost control of his bike, landing on the top tube of his frame and riding into the barriers.
“It all started with the flat tyre. I still got into a rhythm. Then suddenly my chain blocked. Then I hit the barriers. My hip hurt a lot because of the collision. What followed was a shit afternoon,” Van der Poel told Sporza.
“There was still a long way to go and I was motivated to perform well because it’s close to home. But now I’ll switch focus to tomorrow.”
Van Aert goes solo
Up front Van Aert time-trialled to victory during the six remaining laps. Pauwels was unable to gain back time, losing a few seconds every lap. When hitting the final lap Pauwels was 24 seconds down on Van Aert, close but not close enough.
“Early on the gap kept hovering around 10-15 seconds. That wasn’t reassuring. It was a matter of going flat out. Only the last two laps I was able to take the foot of the gas. It was tough,” Van Aert admitted.
The battle for third place was far more entertaining. Meeusen and Michael Vanthourenhout managed to fight their way back into the race after their poor start. They featured in a group of seven riders who hit the final lap together, all fighting for third place.
Meeusen, Vanthourenhout, Aerts, Van Kessel, Bosmans, Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) and Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts) fought for every inch of the circuit.
The crowd kept cheering on their man Meeusen as if he was headed for the victory but that victory went to Van Aert. He finished 18 seconds ahead of Pauwels.
Meeusen led the chase group throughout the final laps and held that spot until the finish line, producing a strong final surge to the line to grab a well-deserved third place at 36 seconds from Van Aert. Sweeck was fourth ahead of Aerts, Van Kessel, Vanthourenhout, Vermeersch and Bosmans. A relaxed but disappointed Van der Poel finished in sixteenth place.
The next round of the DVV Trophy is held next weekend. The Scheldecross features as fifth round of the series at the border of the Schelde river in Antwerp.
On Sunday the cyclo-cross peloton heads to Overijse for the Druivencross, a race with a lot of tradition despite not being part of any major series.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||1:00:56|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:18|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:38|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus||0:00:39|
|5||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions|
|6||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:40|
|7||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:41|
|8||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts|
|9||Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:00:43|
|10||Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:12|
|11||Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus||0:01:21|
|12||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:35|
|13||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:53|
|14||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:02:07|
|15||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:03:21|
|16||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon|
|17||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:03:55|
|18||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)||0:03:57|
|19||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF||0:03:59|
|20||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:04:04|
|21||Kevin Cant (Bel) ERA-Circus||0:04:13|
|22||Eric Thompson (USA) Hed p/b Molten Speed Wax|
|23||Wouter Goosen (Bel)|