World champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) won a thrilling edition of the night cross in Diegem, Belgium on Sunday. The 20 year-old Dutch rider beat a strong Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and European champion Lars van der Haar (Team Giant-Alpecin) in the sprint. Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) remains Superprestige leader despite breaking his derailleur late in the race and finishing tenth in the sixth round of the cyclo-cross series. For Van der Poel it was the second win of the weekend after prevailing at the World Cup round in Heusden-Zolder on Saturday.
“It was the goal to be good during the week of Christmas. The only thing that I need to work on is to pull through after an acceleration. Now they’re always coming back,” Van der Poel told Telenet Play Sports.
Van der Poel's rivals will hope that he doesn’t get better, because his many accelerations are causing a lot of damage in the field. On Sunday, only Pauwels and Van der Haar were able to survive the scrimmages until the finish. In addition to his accelerations, Van der Poel also displayed his technical skills that put him a level above the rest.
During the opening lap he showed off with a BMX-style jump on the flyover, but in the final lap, a braking manoeuvre against Pauwels put him in front before the last crucial technical section.
“That was on the limit, but I had to be in front there. It showed when I got stuck in the mud afterwards. If I hadn't been in front, I would never have gotten the victory. That brake manoeuvre wouldn’t have been possible without disc brakes. Otherwise I would’ve landed in the fencing,” Van der Poel said.
The three leaders featured in front straight from the first lap. Van der Poel punched away straight from the start, but as the pace often dropped in front, multiple riders managed to bridge back up. Halfway through the race no fewer than 13 riders were back together, including Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) who dropped his chain in the first lap and got stuck in traffic.
“Too bad I lose so much ground in the first lap. I didn’t get much support in the chase. I had good legs today. Maybe I would be able to battle for the win or the podium,” Nys said.
Another acceleration from Van der Poel in the fifth lap was the one that finally broke the race apart. Pauwels impressively bridged up in the same lap while Van der Haar and Van Aert trailed the duo by nearly ten seconds. Just before reaching the paved road to the finish, Van Aert broke his derailleur, forcing him to complete a very long run to the pit. Suddenly he was 1:20 down on the leaders and just outside the Superprestige points.
“It’s partly my mistake. I should’ve switched bikes earlier, but I was on my limit and then you tend to skip the pit more often. There were many small rocks in that mud section and they were sticking to the derailleur pullies; then the chain gets stuck. It’s too bad to lose out on the points this way,” Van Aert told Telenet Play Sports.
Both Van der Haar and Meeusen bridged up with the two strongest riders. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) briefly led the race during the second lap and managed to stay in touch with the big guns until the final lap. However, Meeusen lacked that extra edge to follow the big moves and eventually he blew while trying to stay on Van der Poel's wheel on the final lap.
Pauwels was out-braked by Van der Poel for the lead position just before the key part of the course, and then could not get back to the front.
“I didn’t expect him to brake that late. I should’ve kept going with Mathieu. Then I could have started the sprint at least in second position and would have had a chance. I don’t think I’ve ever been as good as this weekend,” Pauwels said.
Van der Haar gambled in the final mud section, trying to sneak in between the inside of the corner and Van der Poel, but he was forced to hop off his bike. “I saw a gap but sadly enough it didn’t work out,” Van der Haar said. Van der Poel survived everything and reached the asphalt first, leaving the others no chance to catch him before the finish line.
Van Aert's bonus of nine points in the Superprestige standings over Nys is suddenly is down to three points on Pauwels and five on Nys. The two final rounds are held in February after the 2016 Heusden-Zolder World Championships.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Corendon||0:59:06|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|3||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin||0:00:03|
|4||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:25|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate-Murprotec||0:00:28|
|6||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan AA Drink Team||0:00:33|
|7||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:44|
|8||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|9||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Corendon||0:00:45|
|10||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice Golden Palace||0:00:50|
|11||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Era Real Estate-Murprotec||0:00:53|
|12||Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice Golden Palace||0:00:55|
|13||Michael Boros (Cze) BKCP-Corendon||0:01:02|
|14||Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis Solutions Credits||0:01:09|
|15||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:01:14|
|16||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate-Murprotec||0:01:33|
|17||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era Real Estate-Murprotec||0:01:54|
|18||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:04|
|19||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice Golden Palace||0:02:09|
|20||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:22|
|21||Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:02:26|
|22||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|23||Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team By G4||0:02:44|
|24||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Kuota Lotto||0:03:16|
|25||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice Golden Palace||0:03:27|
|26||David Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Corendon||0:03:28|
|27||Sascha Weber (Ger)||0:04:02|
|28||Kevin Cant (Bel) Era Real Estate-Murprotec||0:04:05|
|29||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan AA Drink Team|
|30||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP-Corendon||0:04:18|
|31||Severin Saegesser (Swi) Schmid Velosport/ Rc Granichen||0:04:50|
|32||Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa) Maestre Bikes||0:05:09|
|33||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW||0:05:34|
|34||Michael Van Den Ham (Can)||0:05:49|
|35||Travis Livermon (USA)||0:06:34|
|36||Jeremy Martin (Can) Louis Garneau|
|37||Garry Millburn (Aus) Trek SRAM Champion System|
|38||Niels Koyen (Bel) Bike Experience Cycling Team|
|39||Aaron Schooler (Can) Focus CX Team|
|40||Fabian Orbits (Swi) Veloplus|
|41||Martin Eriksson (Swe) Cykloteket Racing Team|
|42||Ulrich Theobald (Ger) Gunsha KMC Team|
|43||Robert Marion (USA) American Classic|
|44||Edwin De Wit (Bel) Kon. W.C. De Rupelspurters Boom|
|45||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) Cx Selle SMP Dama Focus|
|46||Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) Cx Selle SMP Dama Focus|
|47||Christophe Cavazzana (Fra) Esseynod|
|48||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|49||Gilles Tesserre (Fra) Esseynod|
|50||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas-Noff|
|51||Daniel Ania Gonzales (Spa) Nesta - MMR|
|52||Shinya Ikemoto (Jpn) Frieten|
|53||Shintarou Nakama (Jpn) Frieten|
|54||Raoul Poortvliet (Ned) ZRTC Theo Middelkamp|
|55||Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto - Soudal|
|56||Florent Ligney (Fra) Lyon Sprint Evolution|
|DNF||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Veranclassic-Ekoi|
|DNF||Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing Team|
|DNS||Josep Betalu (Spa) Progress Arpo Proteam|
|DNS||Angus Edmond (NZl) Malteni/Niner|
|DNS||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice Golden Palace|