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