Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) won the fifth round of the DVV Trofee in Antwerp on a dry Saturday afternoon. In the twelfth and final lap World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) was dropped by Van der Poel in the final sand section. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) rode a strong race and was a close third.
"It was so fast and we were matching each other; it was useless to try and get away. The last sand section would be decisive. It was a hard-fought duel, riding on the razor's edge," Van der Poel told Sporza after his victory.
Van der Poel is no factor in the general classification after an off day at Koppenbergcross, so Van Aert remains comfortably in the lead of the time-based overall classification of the DVV Trophy. Pauwels is second at 2:34 back.
The fast race on the course next to the Schelde river banks came down to a battle between Van der Poel, archrival Wout Van Aert and Kevin Pauwels. Once again, Van der Poel and Van Aert were the strongest riders but whenever the duo took a breather, Pauwels managed to return. Pauwels' ambition showed early on when he clinched the hole shot ahead of Van Aert and Van der Poel. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) got stuck on the inside of the first corner and never returned in the top 10. His teammate Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) took the initiative in the second lap.
"I spent a lot of energy in trying to win the intermediate sprint. I only managed second place and needed to recover for a long time," Aerts said.
Just before the sprint Van der Poel passed Aerts at the barriers, showing off his fast bunny-hopping skills and taking the 15 bonus seconds. Aerts captured ten seconds and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) the final five seconds. After the race both Van der Poel and Van Aert said attempts to escape were futile. Still, they both tried their luck during the race. Van der Poel got a gap in the first part of the course during the third and fifth laps, clearly proving faster over two steep climbs and the barriers than Van Aert.
Van Aert closed down both gaps, and then tried to ride ahead of the Dutchman in that part of the circuit during the rest of the race. There were three stretches of sand on the course and Van Aert attempted to shake off his rivals in the latter two sections. In the second section, Van Aert relied on his strong running skills and in the third, he tried to put his power to use. His efforts were in vain as Van der Poel was always glued on his wheel.
It stayed that way until the closing laps of the race. As the pace dropped in front, several riders were able to come back. Halfway through the penultimate lap, leaders Van Aert, Van der Poel and Pauwels were joined by Jens Adams (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), Laurens Sweeck (Era Real Estate-Circus) and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games).
Straight away, Pauwels attacked. "I hoped they would hesitate for a moment but they knew I was good and didn't let me ride away. It was my best race of the season," Pauwels said.
Thanks to Pauwels' acceleration the front group split up again and Pauwels headed towards the second sand section with only Van der Poel, Van Aert and Adams keeping up. Suddenly, just before they hit the running sand section, Van Aert sneaked past Van der Poel and Pauwels. "That was a smart move from Wout. Kevin made a small mistake and Wout quickly had a gap. I tried to close it back down as quickly as possible," Van der Poel said.
Van Aert opened up the gas and gained a handful of seconds on his rivals, and it seemed as if the race was decided, but Van der Poel showed grint, chasing hard after passing Pauwels. Van Aert's advantage was down to three seconds at the beginning of the final lap. After tackling the steep climbs and the barriers the three were back together. There was a brief ceasefire in front, but then Van der Poel and Van Aert headed towards the running sand section shoulder to shoulder. Van Aert braked first. Van der Poel overhit the corner into the sand and bumped into the barriers, but he was were he wanted to be, in the lead.
"It had to happen there. If you're in front then you're allowed to make a mistake. There'll be no damage. In second place it's different and you risk losing the race there," Van der Poel said.
Van Aert quickly discovered he was in a losing position as Van der Poel hammered through the final sand section, gaining a decisive gap with few metres left to the finish. "It was a battle to reach that section in first place. We both hit the red zone there, forcing us to recover while running the sand. Once back on the bike it wasn't possible to ride on the wheel in the sand. The twenty metres that were lost were too much to close back down before the finish line," Van Aert said.
Pauwels lost contact in the final sand section but easily held on for third place. Laurens Sweeck was best of the rest in fourth, holding off Adams and Vanthourenhout. Aerts was last of the lead group, rolling across the line at 16 seconds from Van der Poel.
On Sunday the sixth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup is held at the citadel in Namur, Belgium. The next round of the DVV Trofee series is on December 29th in Loenhout.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||1:05:31|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:00:04|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:06|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus||0:00:09|
|5||Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:00:10|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:12|
|7||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:16|
|8||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:52|
|9||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:07|
|10||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:01:52|
|11||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts||0:02:06|
|12||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:02:08|
|13||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:32|
|14||David Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||0:03:43|
|15||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon||0:03:47|
|16||Clement Venturini (Fra)||0:04:17|
|17||Joeri Adams (Bel) Kalas-NNOF||0:04:23|
|18||Enrico Franzoi (Ita)||0:04:28|
|19||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)||0:04:34|
|20||Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus||0:04:36|
|21||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF||0:04:45|
|22||Braam Merlier (Bel)||0:04:54|
|23||Kevin Cant (Bel) ERA-Circus|
|24||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)|
|25||Dario Tielen (Bel)|
|26||Eric Thompson (USA) Hed p/b Molten Speed Wax|
|27||Jens Gys (Bel)|
|28||Hendrik Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus|
|29||Wouter Goosen (Bel)|
|30||Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau|