Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) managed a very commanding victory in the fourth round of the Superprestige in Gavere, Belgium, a classic on the cyclo-cross circuit. Van der Poel missed his start, moved up through the field in the first lap and then simply crushed the opposition in the second lap, completing a nearly race-long solo on the tough muddy course.
World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) was second at more than a minute, while European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) continued his good form by finishing third in Gavere, ahead of veteran Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games).
Van der Poel was clearly pleased with his performance, which was the tenth Superprestige victory of the 21-year-old's career. "I heard that Wout was always winning on the tough courses, which was true. I just had to wait for a super day to show that I can do it too," Van der Poel said on Sporza.
Van der Poel crossed the line in grey and cold Gavere with a wheelie, raising four fingers in the air, referring to his fourth consecutive Superprestige victory this season. Despite the four wins and the maximum of 60 points, the Dutch champion is still only four points ahead of Van Aert in the Hansgrohe Superprestige series. Superprestige specialist Sven Nys claimed on Sporza that Van der Poel was capable of equalling the maximum record of eight consecutive Superprestige wins. "That would be great but it'll be hard in Francorchamps. I'm focusing on the classification for now," Van der Poel said.
During the opening lap it seemed like last year's winner Wout Van Aert was in line for a good ride in Gavere. He had his usual great start while Van der Poel was riding outside the top 10. On the long muddy climb up to the Grenier castle, however, he swerved through the long line of riders as if they were standing still. Vantornout tried to use his elbows to stay ahead of him but Van der Poel was too fast.
Once at the front, Van der Poel wasted no time. Early on in the second lap he accelerated and only Van Aert and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) stayed in touch. It was telling that Van Aert failed to close the final metres. On the long climb, Van der Poel increased his lead and after two laps of racing he was nine seconds ahead of Van Aert. Meeusen trailed by 14 seconds and the duo Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and Toon Aerts were 21 seconds down.
Van der Poel kept his foot on the gas even though there were still seven laps to cover. "I just tried to get in front with a few guys. I certainly expected Wout to bridge up but then he had a chain problem," Van der Poel said. After the steep drop early on in the lap, Van Aert's chain dropped. He had to put it back on and saw Meeusen, Pauwels and Aerts pass him by.
It's not the first time this season that Van Aert suffered chain problems. Last week in Ruddervoorde, Van Aert told Cyclingnews that SRAM had worked hard to resolve the issue. "It's driving me crazy. We thought we solved it but now it's happened two weeks in a row. It doesn't happen during training rides. We'll have to try to find a solution to get it solved again," Van Aert said.
It turned out to be a massive mental blow for the 22-year-old world champion. "It was frustrating. First I got dropped once again by the first mere acceleration from Mathieu. Then the chain was bothering me again. It made it impossible for me to give it all out there. Sometimes it's just not possible to fight back," a downbeat Van Aert said. "Without the chain problems I would have kept the pressure on Mathieu for much longer but I never got into my rhythm. Nevertheless Mathieu certainly deserved the victory. He was the best out there."
Van Aert is still only four points behind Van der Poel in the classification but he wasn't too happy with that. "He keeps on increasing his lead and if the races continue to be a battle between the two of us it'll be very hard to close down the gap. Only an off-day from him can turn it around but that’s not what I want to hope for."
Behind the two arch-rivals, it was young Toon Aerts who was best of the rest. He surged forward in the closing laps. Previously, Meeusen had seemed to be heading for the remaining podium spot but he encountered a chain problem and then crashed on the steep descent to boot, ultimately finishing seventh.
Aerts ended up battling with the Marlux duo of Vantornout and Pauwels. "First I managed to sneak along with Pauwels when Tom was still up front. Then I found out that some sections suited me better and managed to ride away. It's great to be on the podium with these two guys. It's like a half victory. I'm still young and feel there's still room for improvement. I look forward to the upcoming weeks, months and years," Aerts told Sporza.
Aerts captured the final podium spot, 18 seconds behind Van Aert. Vantornout was fourth, just ahead of Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) and Pauwels. Sweeck remains third in the Superprestige series, now nine points behind Mister Superprestige, Mathieu Van der Poel.
The next round of the Superprestige series takes place on December 3 at the Formula 1 racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank - Corendon||1:03:35|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:01:02|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:20|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:01:31|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:01:44|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:02:00|
|7||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:32|
|8||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank - Corendon||0:02:59|
|9||Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan - Vastgoedservice||0:03:00|
|10||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank - Corendon||0:03:05|
|11||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:03:10|
|12||Michael Boros (Cze) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:03:16|
|13||Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:04:27|
|14||Joeri Adams (Bel) KDL Cycling Team||0:04:31|
|15||Thijs Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:04:51|
|16||Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice||0:05:38|
|17||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts-Verona|
|18||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-H.Essers-Noff Cycling Team||0:05:55|
|19||Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:06:39|
|20||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:06:46|
|21||Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon|
|22||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Wilier Force SC|
|23||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Superano Ham - Isorex - Tartel|
|24||Dario Tielen (Bel)|
|25||Fabian Obrist (Swi) Veloplus Elite|
|26||Eric Thompson (USA) HED p/b Molten Speed Wax|
|27||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Toyo Frame|
|28||Luca Formoso (Swi) Cycle-Shop Winterthur / RV Winterthur|