On New Year's Day, European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) captured an impressive victory in the GP Sven Nys. At his team's home race in Baal, Belgium, Aerts finished solo in the seventh round of the DVV Trophy. Eight seconds later world champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) finished as runner-up, ahead of Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games).
It's quite rare for riders other than Van Aert and the recovering Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) to win races this season. For Aerts, it's his second big win of the season after capturing the European title in Pont-Château, France two months earlier.
"This is just fantastic. This is a very important race for our team," Aerts told Sporza.
The team changes and new equipment turned out to be crucial on a very cold New Year's Day. Van Aert was no longer riding his Colnago bike but debuting his Felt. Several other changes happened, including Lars van der Haar who showed up as addition to the Telenet-Fidea team from Sven Nys.
Ice man Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) was pleased with the circumstances, finding a frozen course with deep ruts. "Wout Van Aert rode on a new bike today and I quickly noticed that he was feeling insecure in the corners," Meeusen said.
Aerts and Meeusen went full gas straight from the start and gapped the rest of the field. At the intermediate sprint in the second lap Aerts and Meeusen were eight seconds ahead of Van Aert. Ten seconds further back, the next chasers were Vanthourenhout, teammate Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and a surprisingly strong Wietse Bosmans (Beobank-Corendon).
The duo in front managed to hold off a comeback from Van Aert, who dropped back into the chase group. "In the beginning I had too much fear in the corners. There were a lot of frozen ruts. I didn't want to take risks, knowing which races are coming up," Van Aert said.
Eventual winner Aerts had different sensations. "At the beginning of the race I felt great. I managed to ride away with Tom. That gave wings even though the race was still very long. It was just great to have the support from the crowd and Sven. It was a special experience," Aerts said.
After the third of nine laps the duo in front enjoyed a bonus of twenty seconds on the group with Van Aert, Bosmans, Pauwels, Vanthourenhout and Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles). During the fourth lap, things got worse for Van Aert as he rode into the wooden fencing and hurt his left flank.
"They managed to put wooden fences along this course. That's not ideal for a cyclo-cross course. I hit it with my hip. The wood hurt more than a round pole. I needed some time to get over the pain," Van Aert said.
Meanwhile Vanthourenhout rode away and in front Meeusen lost the wheel of Aerts after a small crash. A few moments later Meeusen's run for glory was over when he went over the handlebars when trying to ride through a ditch. Suddenly Aerts was alone in front, about 20 seconds ahead of Vanthourenhout.
During the sixth of nine laps Van Aert made a bike switch. "Once I was riding with less pressure I got going in the corners," Van Aert said. He moved to the front of the chase group and quickly put Meeusen and Pauwels in trouble. At the end of the seventh lap Van Aert was alone in third place but still half a minute down on Aerts.
During the penultimate lap Van Aert quickly gained ground on Aerts and Vanthourenhout. "It was hard to ride alone on this course. I knew he was coming up and would be riding a fast final lap. He's hard to hold on to. Halfway through the final lap I got dropped. I kept going with the eye on the classification," Vanthourenhout said.
Leader Aerts seemed to be in danger as the gap dropped to just over ten seconds halfway the final lap. "For me, it was a matter of avoiding mistakes. In the past I made technical mistakes at the end of the race so I focused on that part. At the beginning of the race I learned how Tom tackled the corners. That was probably key to the victory in the end. On the straightforward section I used my power," Aerts said.
Van Aert came close but not close enough. At the final barriers, shortly before the finishing straight Aerts flawlessly jumped while Van Aert hopped off his bike. At the finish, a delighted Aerts had time to celebrate the victory, showing off his European kit and the Telenet-Fidea branding. Van Aerts was less pleased with second place. "It was a difficult day. Toon was coming in sight but there was little time to do something. On the long climb I didn't come closer. It was my own fault," Van Aert said.
Vanthourenhout finished third at thirteen seconds, 28 seconds ahead of Pauwels. Bosmans was an impressive fifth at fifty seconds.
On the 2nd of February the final round of the DVV Trophy is held in Lille, Belgium. At the Krawatencross Van Aert will undoubtedly clinch the overall win in the series as he holds a massive bonus of 3:07 over Pauwels in the time-based classification. The battle for second and third place will be more interesting as Vanthourenhout is at 3.43 and Aerts 4.03.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Toon Aerts (Bel)||1:02:51|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel)||0:00:08|
|3||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:00:13|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||0:00:31|
|5||Wietse Bosmans (Bel)||0:00:50|
|6||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:01:29|
|7||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:01:41|
|8||Jens Adams (Bel)|
|9||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:08|
|10||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||0:02:11|
|11||Tom Meeusen (Bel)|
|12||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:02:24|
|13||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned)||0:02:32|
|14||Philipp Walsleben (Ger)||0:02:59|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel)||0:03:15|
|16||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:03:29|
|17||Joeri Adams (Bel)||0:03:30|
|18||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:03:33|
|19||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:04:35|
|20||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned)||0:04:45|
|21||Ivan Gicquiau (Fra)||0:05:17|
|22||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi)||0:05:27|
|23||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:05:50|
|24||Dario Tielen (Bel)||0:06:32|
|25||Hikaru Kosaka (Jpn)|
|26||Marco Mignolli (Ita)|
|27||Kohei Maeda (Jpn)|
|28||Marvin Schmidt (Ger)|
|DNF||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel)|
|DNF||Klaas Vantornout (Bel)|
|DNF||Rob Peeters (Bel)|