Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) beat world champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) after yet another thriller in the sixth round of the Superprestige in Diegem, Belgium. In the night-time race, Van der Poel rode away from Van Aert in the sand during an exciting last-lap decider. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) was best of the rest at 24 seconds, just ahead of European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea). In the Superprestige standings Van der Poel gains a point on Van Aert, creating a narrow 4-point lead.
Despite a cold, Van der Poel impressed in the final lap. He forged clear of the world champion and added a jump on the flyover shortly before the finish. “It just happened. I reached it with speed and sometimes it’s just faster to jump. I was really happy with this win because I didn’t expect it,” Van der Poel told Telenet Play Sports. “Because of my cold I told my folks that I wanted to take as much advantage as possible in the first half of the race, to make sure I wouldn’t lose more than a point on Wout if I got dropped.”
Those intentions were immediately apparent. After a good start, Van der Poel led the peloton throughout the opening lap. Halfway around, he accelerated for the first time, forcing Van Aert to move across from fourth place. The duo quickly opened a gap on the rest of the field. Van der Poel accelerated again at the back end of the course, putting Van Aert on the limit. By the time the duo reached the finish line for the first time they had an advantage of seven seconds over the first chasers.
Van der Poel kept the pace high on the second lap and after a difficult sand passage, Van Aert needed to work very hard for the remainder of the lap to get back up to the Dutchman’s wheel. Behind the duo, there was carnage. European champion Aerts popped up as first chaser at twenty seconds, with Pauwels and a strong Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts-Verona) being the only riders left in contention for a podium spot.
From the third lap onwards, the two leaders exchanged accelerations. None of these attempts were successful but they did force the other rider to stay alert. “Every time one of us wanted to recover the other rider attacked. I tried to keep the pace high to hold a margin in the classification,” Van der Poel said.
Despite these accelerations, the chasers Aerts and Pauwels remained at about the same distance. Vermeersch, meanwhile, struggled at the barriers but seemed on his way to an impressive fifth place. That was until the man wearing dossard 13 was struck by bad luck on the seventh of nine laps, when he suffered a mechanical problem a long distance from the pit. This forced him into an extremely long run, taking him out of contention for the top 15 and any Superprestige points. He finished in a distant 22nd place, just ahead of Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox).
On that same seventh lap, the battle between the two leaders was reaching its denouement. Once again, Van Aert struggled in the sand while riding in front. Van der Poel passed him impressively in the sand and took a few metres. That lead grew up to a few seconds when he hopped over the barriers to make a fast descent.
Entering the penultimate lap, Van der Poel made Van Aert work hard to close the gap of two seconds. Aerts and Pauwels were 43 seconds down and battling for the remaining podium spot. Van der Poel suddenly sat up again shortly afterwards, however, and a ceasefire followed – the last lap would once again decide their duel. Aerts hit that final lap with a small lead over Pauwels, 20 seconds down on the two in front.
Van der Poel led in the first part of the final lap, while behind, Pauwels eventually left Aerts behind and headed for third place. The poker game at the front continued until Van der Poel and Van Aert reached the football pitch with the sand section next to it. Van der Poel accelerated fiercely and continued his effort when approaching the sand. It was the decisive moment in the race.
Van der Poel started the sand section with a bonus of a metre and exited the sand with a few metres more. After hopping the barriers the gap was already up to five seconds. Game over. “I wanted to be ahead of him at the sand section but I failed to pass him because he pulled off a real sprint there. The metres I lost in the sand and at the barriers are those that I lack in the end. I came close but I should’ve been in front at the sand pit,” Van Aert told Telenet Play Sports.
A fast descent to the final obstacles followed, and Van der Poel wasn’t worried about the mud or the step, and he showed off his technical skills on the flyover. “I didn’t see his jump. It’s impressive he was still able to do it on that moment. I wasn’t thinking about doing it,” Van Aert said with a smile. On the finishing straight, Van der Poel had time enough to roll in at his ease and celebrate the victory, with Van Aert desperately trying to close the gap.
Van der Poel has now won five out of six rounds and amassed some 89 points in the general classification of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series. Van Aert trails by only four points since he won a round and finished as runner-up in the five other rounds. Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) only managed a tenth place in Diegem but remains third with 68 points.
On December 26, the two protagonists of this season’s cyclo-cross season will face each other again at the World Cup round in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The next Superprestige round is a while away, and riders will be racing for double points in Hoogstraten on the 5th of February,
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||1:06:22|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:00:24|
|4||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:40|
|5||Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:14|
|6||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||0:01:23|
|7||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:31|
|8||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:37|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:01:41|
|10||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus||0:01:57|
|11||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus||0:02:04|
|12||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank Coredon||0:02:38|
|13||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona||0:02:58|
|14||Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:02|
|15||Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa) Maestre Bikes||0:03:06|
|16||Michael Boros (Cze) Beobank Corendon||0:03:23|
|17||Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:03:30|
|18||Joeri Adams (Bel) KDL Cycling Team||0:03:32|
|19||Severin Sägesser (Swi) RC Gränichen||0:04:14|
|20||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibañez (Spa) Mmr-Spiuk Cx Team||0:04:28|
|21||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Bioracer Mmr Nesta||0:04:33|
|22||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:05:27|
|23||Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing||0:05:35|
|24||Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:05:55|
|25||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Era Real Estate - Circus|
|26||Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team|
|27||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) RS-Bikes Racing Team Pulderbos|
|28||Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|29||Hendrik Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus|
|30||Marvin Schmidt (Ger) RSC Betzdorf / Gunsha KMC Team|
|31||Maximilien Andreo (Fra) P.A.C 95|
|32||Jens Gys (Bel) VP Consulting-Zannata Cycling|
|33||Martin Eriksson (Swe) Cykloteket RT|
|34||Flavien Dassonville (Fra) Auber 93|
|35||Mark Mcconnell (Can) Hot Sauce Cycling X Garneau|
|36||Wouter Goosen (Bel) Vp Consulting-Zannata Cycling|
|37||Daniel Ania Gonzalez (Spa) Nesta-MMR|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon|
|DNF||Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Beobank-Corendon|
|DNF||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-H.Essers-Noff Cycling Team|
|DNF||Yorben Van Tichelt (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games|