World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) claimed his first Superprestige race of the season during the fifth round at the F1 car racing circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. It was the first victory in more than a month for Van Aert, who topped Mathieu van der Poel and Toon Aerts.
"It's great. I've never lost in Francorchamps so I love to come here," Van Aert told Telenet Play Sports.
Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) saw his Superprestige winning streak of four races come to an end, but fended off a late charge from European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) to take second.
Van der Poel remains in the lead of the Superprestige series with a three-points bonus over Van Aert.
"It's a hard race. I'd loved to have won but second is not bad," Van der Poel said. Once dropped by Van Aert on the steep run-up Van der Poel didn't push on. "I quickly realized that I didn't have the legs to bridge back up. I opted to focus on second place with the eye on the classification," Van der Poel said.
When crossing the finish line Van Aert didn't lift his hands in the air. "I was way too tired. The Raidillon is much too hard to lift up your hands afterwards."
Van Aert has been the subject of much scrutiny by the Belgian media after going winless since November 1 at the hands of Van der Poel. "I'm awaiting this week and look forward to reading the new analyses. The newspaper have to be filled. I'm glad to answer with the pedals. When you're racking up second places you don't have the right to speak," Van Aert said.
In contrast to last year there wasn't as much running needed on the course in Francorchamps. Still, the long steep climbs favoured good runners like Van Aert and Aerts. Van der Poel had a disadvantage as he didn't include running in his training for the last two seasons due to his knee surgeries. Straight away Aerts took the initiative at the first run-up. Only five riders were able to keep up, including Van Aert, fast starter Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), veteran Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and brothers Mathieu and David van der Poel.
A slip by Van Aert gave Van der Poel an eight seconds on the second lap, but Van Aert sprinted past on the run-up in the third lap. The pace then dropped a bit, allowing Aerts to rejoin. Aerts lost contact when he slipped while dismounting at the bottom of the run-up, hurting his knee.
"I had quite large spikes on my shoes which were great for the steep run-up. Sadly enough when hopping off my bike before the climb I landed on an icy spot and slipped away, hurting my knee," Aerts said.
Van der Poel had his own problems with the run-up, slipping at the top and losing contact with Van Aert for good.
"Wout has always been good in running sections. He's always been the best in it. I was struggling on the run-up, just like last year. It'll never be my cup of tea. It's ok for once but I don't like it," Van der Poel said.
In contrast, Van Aert quite enjoyed the running. "It doesn't happen much throughout the season. I love to do such a steep old-fashioned run-up with the bike on your back. I can do it well and love to do it. I'm pleased it's here every year," Van Aert said.
During the closing three laps the situation in front remained the same with Van Aert extending his lead every lap, up to half a minute. Van der Poel focused on his second place and kept Aerts at distance. Van Aert was pleased with his win after a drought of just over a month.
"It's good for the confidence. It's good to start December with a win. I'm looking forward to the next race and the upcoming duels with Mathieu. I'm positive for the future," Van Aert told Telenet Play Sports.
The battle for fourth place was won by Kevin Pauwels, finishing nearly a minute behind Aerts. Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate - Circus) is not the best climber but he was a good fifth on the fast course, just ahead of Tom Meeusen. Pan-American champion Stephen Hyde (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) had a strong finish in tenth at 2:30 from winner Wout Van Aert.
In the Superprestige classification Van der Poel lost a point on Van Aert and his bonus is now down to only three points on the Belgian rider. The sixth round of the Superprestige series is held at the night-time race in Diegem, Belgium on 23rd December.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||1:00:43|
|2||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||0:00:32|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:35|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:01:25|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus||0:01:32|
|6||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:38|
|7||Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:40|
|8||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon||0:01:53|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:02:19|
|10||Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com||0:02:30|
|11||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:03:13|
|12||David Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||0:03:55|
|13||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA-Circus||0:03:59|
|14||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:04:14|
|15||Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus||0:04:44|
|16||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-NNOF||0:04:50|
|17||Joeri Adams (Bel) Kalas-NNOF||0:05:13|
|18||Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon|
|19||Sebastien Carabin (Bel)|
|DNF||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice|
|DNF||Bruce Dalton (GBr)|
|DNF||Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon|
|DNF||Samuel Maryns (Bel)|