Young Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) grabbed the win at the night cross in chilly Diegem on Sunday evening and moved himself into the lead of the Superprestige series after six rounds. He won on a snow-covered course that was artificially lit, ahead of ice specialist Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), who bounced back from a missed start.
In the Superprestige classification, van der Poel is the new leader with a one-point lead over Pauwels. Lars van der Haar is third at two points and Meeusen fourth at five points.
Van der Poel had time to take it easy in the final lap, looking back just before the finish line and then crossing it with a one-handed wheelie.
"It wasn’t easy to make the difference on this course. Just before I attacked, Lars fell and I immediately took 10 seconds," van der Poel said on Vier. After the race the Dutchman suffered hard from cold hands and feet when getting ready for the podium.
"The first five minutes after the race are the worst," van der Poel said.
The decisive move from van der Poel came just before the penultimate lap. Lars van der Haar (Development Team Giant-Shimano) rode in front of a six-man lead group when he reached an icy left-hand corner where he had crashed one lap earlier.
Van der Poel was riding on van der Haar’s left side at the corner and possibly touched him. Van der Haar crashed again and van der Poel profited. "The first time was my own mistake but the second time someone rode against me; I wasn’t so happy with that. Maybe Mathieu was better but I would’ve been on the podium for sure," van der Haar said.
The Dutch Champion fought back from his two crashes in the battle for second place, and he finished behind Meeusen and Pauwels in fourth.
Until that moment in the race van der Poel kept himself away from the first position in the large lead group that also featured van der Haar, Meeusen, Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and BKCP-teammates Philipp Walsleben and David van der Poel.
In the first half of the race Pauwels was riding in a lost position after crashing twice in the opening lap. "I crashed together with Sven Nys. I don’t think there were many riders behind me at that stage of the race. I didn’t believe in it but I tried to save the Superprestige classification," Pauwels said.
The Superprestige leader was 45 seconds down on the race leaders but every lap he came closer on them. Right after van der Poel attacked the pace in the lead group dropped as the BKCP riders were outplaying their numerical advantage. Pauwels bridged up with the group but going for the win was no longer possible.
With his third place Pauwels did a great job considering his race story. "I had one of my best days of the season. Without the crash I would’ve been in the mix for the victory," Pauwels said.
In the sprint for second place, he was beaten by Meeusen who clearly went much better than during his off-day at the World Cup round in Heusden-Zolder on Friday. "I hurt my back in Zolder and I should’ve abandoned there but that’s not what you want to do. I still felt it when going flat out. Technically, it was possible to get far in this race but I had to shift back when it went to the limit. I’m still at five points from the Superprestige leader and still in fourth place. It’s hard to move up in this classification," Meeusen said.
David van der Poel concluded a strong race in fifth place. He crashed out of the lead group in the decisive lap due to a poor bike swap from his compatriot van Kessel in the pit area. "I was more or less riding comfortably in the group until we reached the pit," David van der Poel said.
After coming back to the chase group he was the first to attack on the road section, which he regretted shortly afterwards as he had to let go of Meeusen, Pauwels and van der Haar after the next acceleration.
Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) concluded an anonymous race with a great sixth place. "For one lap, I joined Pauwels but I narrowly failed to bridge up like him," Adams said.
Walsleben and van Kessel were members of the lead group who faded in the final laps, finishing seventh and eighth. Vincent Baestaens (BKCP-Powerplus) managed a strong ninth place in one of his first races at top level since undergoing surgery and grabbing wins outside of Belgium. When sprinting faster than Gianni Meersman (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) he pointed his finger towards his compatriot when crossing the line. The young Belgian duo clearly were clearly having words with each other.
Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) made his comeback in Diegem after taking a mid-season break due to below-par performances. He was riding in the second or third chase group at about half a minute from the leaders but then faded. The 38-year-old Belgian Champion finished 16th behind Patrick Gaudy, just outside the Superprestige points.
"It wasn’t really great but I can’t expect a lot. Kevin Pauwels went a little too fast to keep up with him. I have to take it step by step, Loenhout is next. I’m glad that I checked my watch during the race, managing to get back to my maximum heart rate. The result didn’t matter. I have to start somewhere. My first half of the race wasn’t bad, the second was worse," Nys said.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus||1:05:36|
|2||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:03|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:08|
|4||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Development Team Giant-Shimano||0:00:09|
|5||David Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:22|
|6||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team||0:00:28|
|7||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:41|
|8||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:51|
|9||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:00:59|
|10||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:01:01|
|11||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:01:33|
|12||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:01:59|
|13||Marcel Meisen (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:05|
|14||Martin Bina (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:09|
|15||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:02:17|
|16||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:02:20|
|17||Michael Boros (Cze) CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor||0:02:43|
|18||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:03:28|
|19||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:03:33|
|20||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:03:43|
|21||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:53|
|22||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:55|
|23||Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continentaal Team||0:04:46|
|24||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:04:59|
|25||David Menut (Fra)||0:05:08|
|26||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:05:20|
|27||Ben Berden (Bel) Raleigh Clement Professional Cyclocross Team||0:05:33|
|28||Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:06:08|
|29||Kenneth Hansen (Nor)||0:06:25|
|30||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team||0:06:36|
|31||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:06:50|
|32||Niels Koyen (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|33||Yu Takenouchi (Chn) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team|
|34||Emil Hekele (Cze)|
|35||Yannick Mayer (Bel)|
|36||Bryan Falaschi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti|
|37||Robert Marion (USA)|
|38||Michal Malik (Cze)|
|39||Angus Edmond (Aus)|
|40||Garry Millburn (Aus)|
|41||Fabian Obrist (Swi)|
|42||Ulrich Theobald (Ger)|
|43||Ramon Sagues Portabella (Spa)|
|44||Robert Wardell (Gbr)|
|45||Paul Redenbach (Aus)|
|46||Christophe Cavazzana (Fra)|
|47||Arnau Rota Cano (Spa)|