Van der Poel back to his best in Ruddervoorde

Van Aert hit by mechanical problem after duel with Dutch rival

In the latest of a series of tense duels between Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) it was the Dutch champion who came out the winner in Ruddervoorde, Belgium during the third round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series on Sunday.

Van der Poel finished alone after dominating the greasy, fast and technical course, half a minute ahead of world champion Van Aert, who suffered a late mechanical problem after fighting with van der Poel for much of the race. Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) was third at nearly a minute, making it once again a podium filled by young riders that represent the present and the future of men’s cyclo-cross.

It was the third Superprestige win in a row for van der Poel and so he strengthened his lead in the Superprestige series where he holds the maximum of 45 points, three more than Van Aert.

"I didn't have a super day," Van der Poel surprisingly said shortly after capturing his commanding victory. "This pleases me a lot. I felt much better than in the Koppenbergcross although I made too many mistakes. The course suited me perfectly."

Van der Poel was always upfront after a slow start, riding with Van Aert and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) after the opening lap, with Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) snapping at their heels. Halfway the second lap Van der Poel casually took off and threw away his hand gloves at the pit area and then opened up the gas in an impressive display of riding.

In no time Van der Poel was alone up front, with Van Aert trailing by a handful of seconds. Van der Haar, Pauwels and Michael Vanthourenhout were already more than ten seconds down on him. The gap between Van der Poel and Van Aert remained about the same during the third lap but the rest of the pack quickly realized they were racing for third place as they trailed by half a minute. Sweeck and Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) bridged up to Pauwels, Vanthourenhout and Van der Haar to form a chase group but the race for victory was up front.

After a small mistake from van der Poel, van Aert was able to bridge up to him during the fourth lap. The duo kept each other in check during the next few laps but then Van Aert made a crucial mistake on the sixth lap.

"It was stupid. I figured that taking a fresh bike wouldn't cost me too much time. That wasn't the case," Van Aert told Cyclingnews.

A costly bike change

Van der Poel upped the pace to make Van Aert work hard for his bike change. The gap varied from two seconds to ten seconds when hitting the final lap, with both riders making small mistakes while riding at their very limit on the highly technical and often narrow course.

"Mathieu is better at this work. He dares just a little more than I do and is technically slightly better. I'd already settled for second place when my chain dropped," Van Aert said about the incident in the final lap.

His chain dropped and got stuck behind his chainring after shouldering his bike. As Van Aert said, the incident wasn't crucial as Van der Poel was already ahead and closing in on the win.

But the time lost gave van der Poel a chance to celebrate alone, with Van Aert rolling across the line half a minute later. Sweeck was content with third place at 54 seconds.

"Right now that's where I belong. I came closer but I was on my limit while they were checking out each other. I was racing for third place," Sweeck told Cyclingnews.

Last year's winner Kevin Pauwels crashed in the final lap but still finished fourth at 1:08 behind van der Poel, well ahead of Jens Adams (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), Toon Aerts and David van der Poel. The latter finished two minutes behind his younger brother.

In the general classification of the Superprestige van der Poel now has 45 points, which gives him a narrow lead of three points over Van Aert despite his three consecutive wins. Sweeck is only six points behind. Jens Adams is fourth with 33 points ahead of veteran Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) who has 28.

Saturday's Waaslandcross winner Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) didn't finish the race, just like Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) who feared an injury in his upper leg and headed to hospital for a check-up after the race.

Next week one of cyclo-cross Classic races in Asper-Gavere features as the fourth round of the Superprestige series with the race. Van der Poel will defend his lead position in a race that was won by Van Aert last year. Their duel continues.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon1:05:18 
2Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Contine0:00:29 
3Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus0:00:54 
4Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin0:01:09 
5Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Contine0:01:22 
6Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:52 
7David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:02:00 
8Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Contine0:02:07 
9Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin0:02:11 
10Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin0:02:13 
11Joeri Adams (Bel) Kdl Cycling Team0:02:16 
12Michael Boros (Cze) Era Real Estate - Circus0:02:27 
13Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin0:02:32 
14Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:02:34 
15Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:02:36 
16Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts-Verona.0:02:40 
17Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team0:03:14 
18Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon0:03:29 
19Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-H.Essers-Noff Cycling Te0:03:51 
20Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels0:04:44 
21Braam Merlier (Bel) Steylaerts-Verona0:04:46 
22Stijn Huys (Bel) Bruynooghe Cycling Team0:05:33 
23Rob Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice Contine0:05:49 
24Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Superano Ham - Isorex - Tartel0:06:10 
25Vinnie Braet (Bel) Superano Ham - Isorex - Tartel0:06:59 
26Niels Wubben (Ned) Westland Wil Vooruit0:07:11 
27Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Toyo Frame  
28Quincy Vens (Bel) Superano Ham - Isorex - Tartel  
29Matthias Van De Velde (Bel) Autoglas Wetteren Cycling Team  
30Glenn Kinning (Irl) Kinning Cycles  
31Felix Fuentes Sanchez (Spa) Stecchino Mtb Club  
32Fernando Jimenez Rodriguez (Spa) Stecchino Mtb Club  
33Manuel Martin Jimenez (Spa) Stecchino Mtb Club  
DNFLars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin  
DNFTom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team  
DNFPhilipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon  
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus  
DNFDaan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team  
DNFTwan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels  
DNFHendrik Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Circus  
DNSJorge Rodriguez Garcia (Spa) Stecchino Mtb Club   

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