In the absence of most top riders, Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) found no opposition at the Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium on Saturday afternoon. On the fast sand course along the Schelde river the 19-year-old Dutchman won solo ahead of surprisingly strong 20-year-old Laurens Sweeck (Corendon-Kwadro) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea).
It’s the second win of the season for van der Poel. One year ago he made his debut at the Scheldecross, finishing as runner-up behind Niels Albert.
The big crowds were as absent as the big riders in windy Antwerp. Scheldecross is apart of the Soudal Classics but there is no general classification.
“I didn’t really need to win here but the form has been improving during the last few weeks and the course suits me really well, so before the race I was keen on winning here. I had a few sections where I could make the difference. Then again I didn’t want to waste too much energy as there’s another race tomorrow,” van der Poel told Sporza.
Straight from the start van der Poel was riding in the top-three, together with his brother David, and Tom Meeusen and Laurens Sweeck.
A first acceleration from Mathieu van der Poel was answered by Meeusen while the rest of the pack quickly lost ground. The speed in front dropped so Sweeck and David van der Poel bridged back up with the two leaders.
One lap later, Mathieu van der Poel attacked again, with Meeusen struggling harder to hold his wheel. By the end of the second lap Sweeck bridged back up once again and immediately attacked the two protagonists.
Sweeck hit the third lap with a small lead over Meeusen and Mathieu van der Poel. Meeusen made several small mistakes and more riders joined the chase group, including Rob Peeters (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and David van der Poel.
The surprising leader had a gap of 10 seconds after three laps of racing. That’s when Mathieu van der Poel decided he had enough. His third acceleration finally succeeded in getting rid of Meeusen and he closed the gap to Sweeck on his own.
“Maybe I should have been riding like a coward a bit longer but last week I was already criticized for profiting too much,” Meeusen told Sporza. “Possibly I would’ve bridged back up to Mathieu a few more times but I decided to let the best riders go and focus on third place.”
Mathieu van der Poel sat on Sweeck’s wheel for one lap, holding the chase group at 10 seconds. Halfway through the race he accelerated again and Sweeck quickly found out there was not much he could do against the Dutchman.
The main chase group quickly dropped back to half a minute and more behind leaders Mathieu van der Poel and Sweeck.
For the next three laps, Sweeck was held the gap at 10 seconds but he started losing more time as the race progressed. “He was making me work for it. When the gap eventually grew I adapted my pace to his,” Mathieu van der Poel said.
On the last lap, Mathieu van der Poel had a comfortable margin on Sweeck. The battle for third place was going on between Rob Peeters, Tom Meeusen, German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Corné van Kessel.
Mathieu van der Poel cruised to the victory, zipping his shirt and throwing his fists in the air when crossing the line. Sweeck concluded a great race in second place on a flat rear tyre at 42 seconds back, pointing his finger towards his title sponsor Corendon.
“Before the race I hoped to finish in the top-five but I didn’t expect to be actually racing in the front. Some riders were not present but the level was still high. I’m pleased with second place,” Sweeck told Sporza.
Meeusen easily grabbed third place ahead of Peeters, Walsleben and van Kessel. The winner’s brother, David van der Poel, was seventh ahead of Diether Sweeck (Corendon-Kwadro).
Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Crelan-AA Drink) closed down the top 10. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) quickly rode at a steady pace after a good start and finished 12th.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:57:08|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:00:43|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:01|
|4||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:01:05|
|5||Philipp Walsleben (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:01:13|
|6||Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:31|
|7||David Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team|
|8||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:01:55|
|9||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:00|
|10||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:02:02|
|11||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:12|
|12||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:32|
|13||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:02:35|
|14||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:42|
|15||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:02:57|
|16||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:03:20|
|17||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:04:02|
|18||Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||0:04:12|
|19||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:04:22|
|20||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW|
|21||Martin Bina (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|22||Kevin Cant (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|23||Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:04:52|
|24||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|25||Stijn Caluwe (Bel) Enertherm - BKCP||0:05:02|
|26||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||0:05:22|
|27||Stephen Hyde (USA)|
|28||Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team|
|29||Elias Van Hecke (Bel) Lares - Doltcini Cycling Team|
|30||Niels Koyen (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|31||Lorenzo Pepermans (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW|
|32||Yves Coolen (Bel) De Kastelse Durvers V.Z.W.|
|33||Edwin De Wit (Bel) Kon. W.C. De Rupelspurters Boom|
|34||Yannick Gruner (Ger)|
|35||Wouter Goosen (Bel) Zannata Cycling Team|
|36||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|37||Skyler Mackey (USA)|
|38||Bruce Dalton (USA)|