Dutch ace Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) won the Soudal Cyclocross Leuven during his first race with his new Stevens bike. The 19-year-old rode a tactically strong race and finished solo at the Belgian military base.
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) won the sprint for second place ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and a disappointed Laurens Sweeck (Corendon-Kwadro). Belgian champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) had a fallback in Leuven, finishing 12th. Only 18 riders finished in the lead lap. Top guns Wout Van Aert and Lars van der Haar were not present.
"I wasn't enjoying a super day. I was able to profit from an attack where I received a good gap. I wanted to try something and that way at least Philipp [Walsleben] could profit. They hesitated behind me. If you're riding for the victory then it feels different," Van der Poel told Vier.
On the artificial ramps Van der Poel was a crowd pleaser, always getting some airtime. "It's good to have fun too. The forest was technical too. That favours me. Now it's an easy week and hopefully I'll take my first national championship in the Elite Men category," Van der Poel said.
The early protagonists in Leuven were Laurens' twin brother Diether Sweeck (Corendon-Kwadro) and Joeri Adams, the sole representative of the Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace team. At the end of the second lap there were still eleven riders in the lead group. Laurens Sweeck surprised them all with an attack at the pit, where most riders swapped bikes. Van der Poel and Meeusen were the first to close the gap, Pauwels, Philipp Walsleben and Adams joined them little later. Sweeck kept going flat out and rode away when Van der Poel faded, seemingly going through a bad moment.
"I trained hard with the eye on next week. I dropped because it went too fast," Van der Poel said.
Once again, Meeusen closed the gap and this time only Pauwels, Walsleben and Van der Poel returned. The five leaders rode together for most of the fifth lap. Once on the long road towards the finish the pace dropped and Van der Poel seized his moment, blasting away. Seemingly nobody wanted to chase although Sweeck and Pauwels briefly tried.
"Nobody wanted to chase him. Just before that he seemed to have a bad moment and I had just closed a gap," Pauwels told Vier.
"I wanted to leave this race with positive sensations and if I wanted to follow Mathieu then I would've hit the red zone," Meeusen told Vier, explaining he wanted to leave the race with positive sensation with the eye on next week's Belgian championships.
A tired Walsleben misjudged a fast corner and hit the deck, quickly settling for fifth place. Mud specialist Sweeck tried to get back on the Dutch leader on the long muddy climb but he didn't get closer than nine seconds. Meeusen bridged back up to Sweeck, trailing the leader by twelve seconds when hitting the penultimate lap. From there the pace dropped and clearly the focus switched to second place. Going into the final lap Van der Poel led the race by forty seconds and he had time to enjoy his victory. The battle for the two remaining podium spots between the three chasers concluded with a long sprint. Meeusen started the sprint from far out, surprising Sweeck.
"In the last lap I got stuck on the climb in the section where I made the difference every lap. That's why we were together with three. Meeusen came from behind with a lot of speed. I quickly realized it wasn't going to happen for me. It's sad I miss out on the podium," Laurens Sweeck said.
Meeusen easily held off Pauwels for second place. Sweeck was a disappointed fourth. Another disappointed man was Sven Nys, who failed to build on his improving performances of the last week. "It was bad. I can't say much more. It's not good. Probably I didn't recover from the tough race in Baal. I'm back to where I was. I can't do much about it. I did everything I could to keep improving but it's getting worse again. That's a sign that it's not good. I have to live with it. I ride as good as I can but there's not much fun about it. It's annoying but that's sport at the highest level," Nys told Vier.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||1:03:30|
|2||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:35|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:00:44|
|5||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:01:24|
|6||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:01:40|
|7||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:02:23|
|8||Corné Van Kessel Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:31|
|9||Martin Bina (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:40|
|10||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:50|
|11||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:58|
|12||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:03:02|
|13||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:13|
|14||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:46|
|15||Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:05:07|
|16||David Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:05:24|
|17||Kobe Goossens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:06:10|
|18||Kevin Cant (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:06:13|
|19||Pieter Van Speybrouck (Bel)|
|20||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|21||Matthias Van De Velde (Bel) Autoglas Wetteren Cycling Team|
|22||Edwin De Wit (Bel) Kon. W.C. De Rupelspurters Boom|
|23||Xandro Meurisse (Bel)|
|24||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|25||Arne Tureluren (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|26||Paul Lindenau (Ger)|
|27||Pieter Van Roosbroeck (Bel) VA-Cycling Team Zele|
|28||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Veranclassic -Ekoi Continental Cycling Team|
|29||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|30||Garry Millburn (Aus)|
|31||Yannick Mayer (Ger)|
|32||Paul Redenbach (Aus)|
|33||Yelle Leaerts (Bel) WSC Hand In Hand Baal|