Young Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) kicked off his 2015-2016 cyclo-cross campaign in style. At the Superprestige opener in Gieten in the north of the Netherlands the 21-year-old Belgian rider won solo ahead of home rider Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin). Young Tim Merlier (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) won the sprint for third place ahead of Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) and Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).
“This streak will end at some point and I will have no trouble with that. I’m starting relaxed at every race. It’s fun to race this way,” Van Aert said on Play Sports TV.
The Superprestige cyclo-cross series includes eight events, most of them in Belgium except Gieten.
The commanding victory from Van Aert on the fast course in Gieten came after two crucial moments in the race. After a first acceleration from Van Aert in the fourth of 10 laps the Belgian bridged up to early leader David van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) with Van der Haar being the only rider able to hold his wheel.
“When Van Aert accelerated everybody knew you had to be on his wheel but not everybody can be there,” Vantornout said.
Further back in the group Sven Nys tried to bounce back from a flat after a good start in the race.
In front Van der Poel quickly got dropped and the Dutchman tried to focus on salvaging third place. In front Van Aert and Van der Haar exchanged the work and quickly created a comfortable lead over the rest of the field. During the eighth lap Van Aert increased the pace in a technical sand section that included some running at the end of it. “I looked back and saw I had a gap of 10 metres. Ten metres means you’re on the verge of cracking. I was able to accelerate a bit more. It was the time to go,” Van Aert said. In no time the gap was up to six seconds with two more laps to go.
The damage was done and Van Aert seemingly had no trouble to extend his lead and take yet another strong win. Van der Haar once again had to settle for second place. “It’s too bad but I was beaten in a fair duel which makes it easier to cope with it. I’m there, able to reply to his first acceleration but I didn’t have that second acceleration. You feel that he’s playing with you. He punished every mistake. He’s riding better than me right now,” Van der Haar said.
When entering the final lap it seemed like Nys would battle with Vantornout and Pauwels for third place but as the pace dropped also Tim Merlier and Gianni Vermeersch bridged up. Merlier is known to be a fast man and the 22-year-old Belgian rider lived up to that reputation.
“This feels good. I didn’t expect it but it’s fun to experience it. It’s the first time I’m riding top-5 in a major race. I know that I’m fast on the line. They told me to ride in front in the last lap and that’s what I did. The pace dropped in front of me. I had to enter the final corner in front. It worked out well. More of this please,” Merlier said.
In the sprint Nys clicked out of his pedal, offering Merlier a gap. Nevertheless Nys managed to bounce back and sprint faster than Vantornout. “It felt like I was able to ride in front today. It was a high-speed 'cross which usually doesn’t suit me. I had good legs, good sensations. It’s a pity to drop away with a flat. It’s bad luck. Wout Van Aert is a level above the rest for the moment. With good positioning one can do well over here. With fourth place I’m pleased,” Nys said.
Vermeersch and Pauwels were sixth and seventh at the back of the group that fought for third place. Vincent Baestaens and Rob Peeters rode a strong final part of the race to grab eighth place and ninth place ahead of Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz. David van der Poel faded in the final laps and only finished 22nd after a strong race. Thijs van Amerongen finished inside the top-15 but he was later disqualified.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace||0:56:34|
|2||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Alpecin||0:00:21|
|3||Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace||0:00:55|
|4||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink|
|5||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games|
|6||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games||0:00:59|
|7||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games||0:01:05|
|8||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Bkcp-Corendon||0:01:06|
|9||Rob Peeters (Bel)|
|10||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Era Real Estate - Murprotec|
|11||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:01:09|
|12||Philipp Walsleben (Ger)||0:01:11|
|13||Niels Wubben (Ned)||0:01:27|
|14||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)|
|15||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:01:34|
|16||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||0:01:36|
|17||Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned)||0:01:45|
|18||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:01:49|
|19||Toon Aerts (Bel)||0:01:52|
|20||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:01:57|
|21||Michael Boros (Cze)||0:02:11|
|22||David Van Der Poel (Ned)||0:02:14|
|23||Joeri Adams (Bel)||0:02:16|
|24||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel)||0:02:24|
|25||Jens Adams (Bel)|
|26||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:02:39|
|27||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned)||0:03:26|
|28||Radomir Simunek (Cze)|
|29||Vinnie Braet (Bel)|
|30||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|31||Bart Barkhuis (Ned)|
|32||Michal Malík (Cze)|
|33||Roderik Egberink (Ned)|
|DSQ||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned)|