If there were any doubts casted over Mathieu van der Poel's (BKCP-Powerplus) victory at the World Championships from last week in Tabor then he wiped those away with two back-to-back wins this weekend.
On Saturday, Van der Poel won solo on the fast course in Lille, Belgium. On Sunday, he rode another race-long time trial on the muddy course of the penultimate Superprestige round, the 'Strawberry Cross' in Hoogstraten, Belgium. It’s his 10th victory in the elite men's category of the season and his first double.
“I know. Usually my second day isn’t as good as my first. Apparently I became stronger. It’s great, especially on a course like this. Ever since my training camp in Spain I’ve been enjoying splendid form and I still bear fruit from it,” Van der Poel told Vier.
In-form Van der Poel strengthens his lead in the Superprestige cyclo-cross series over Sunday’s runner-up Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) up to two points. Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) bounced back from a difficult start and overtook Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) late in the race to take the final podium spot. Van der Haar is placed in third position overall at five points from Van der Poel.
Straight from the first muddy sections, Van der Poel rode away from the competition. At first Pauwels stood tall at a short distance but before halfway into the race the gap steadily grew. After spending 11 demanding laps in a soaked meadow, a clearly tired and mud-clad Van der Poel crossed the finish line.
When stepping off the bike, he cursed at himself, asking himself why he did this to himself. “I know I can benefit from my fast start but the wind and Kevin made it hard. He kept pushing on. I told myself to try one more lap and only continue if my lead grew. I rode a great lap and from there I had a mental boost. It was really hard in that sticky meadow,” Van der Poel told Vier.
The great performance from Pauwels was not enough to beat the World champion in Hoogstraten. Pauwels lost one more point on the 20-year-old Dutchman but when heading to the final round in Middelkerke the Belgian still has a chance to win the series.
“If he rides like this weekend it’ll be hard. If he has a bad day then it’s possible. Two points isn’t much so anything can happen,” Pauwels told Vier. He felt Van der Poel was playing a game with him on Sunday afternoon. “I realized it already in the first lap. He took his foot from the gas but as soon as I came closer he accelerated,” Pauwels said.
Behind Van der Poel and Pauwels it seemed like Lars van der Haar would keep himself in the running for the general classification, losing two points on Van der Poel. Halfway into the race, Van der Haar rode in third place at half a minute from Van der Poel but also half a minute ahead of the next group that featured Wout Van Aert, Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace).
During the second half of the race, Van Aert got going and during the penultimate lap he overtook Van der Haar.
“It’s too bad I lose an additional point but I was dead in the end. The two last laps I was very tired. It’s a tough race and not so nice course, which made it hard to keep going. I don’t think I can win the series but maybe a second place is possible,” Van der Haar told Vier.
The man who overtook him explained that he struggled during the first two laps. “I don’t know what the problem was. In traffic, I was held up a few times too. Apart from those laps I don’t think I lost much time. In the end, I saw Lars so then I wanted to finish on the podium. Mathieu started really fast. I never saw him riding,” Van Aert told Vier.
Much further back Klaas Vantornout won the battle for fifth place. Sven Nys held off Tom Meeusen in the final metres to take sixth place ahead of Jens Adams, Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) and Julien Taramarcaz (Corendon-Kwadro).
The final round of the Superprestige series is held next Saturday in Middelkerke, Belgium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||1:00:20|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:20|
|3||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:00:37|
|4||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin||0:01:09|
|5||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:01:56|
|6||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:02:11|
|7||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:17|
|8||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:02:25|
|9||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:30|
|10||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:32|
|11||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:02:44|
|12||Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:54|
|13||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:03:09|
|14||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:22|
|15||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:46|
|16||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:03:56|
|17||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:04:51|
|18||Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continentaal Team|
|19||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|20||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Colba - Superano Ham Cont. Cycling Team|
|21||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|22||Micki van Empel (Ned) Kalas-NNOF Cycling Team|
|23||Bart Hofman (Bel) Nodrugs Heroes Flanders|
|24||Clement Lhotellerie (Fra)|
|25||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)|
|26||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|27||Kevin Cant (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|28||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW|
|29||Severin Saegesser (Swi)|
|30||Lubomir Petrus (Ce) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team|
|31||Niels Koyen (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|32||Yoann Corbihan (Fra)|
|33||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Hargroves Cycles|
|34||Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)|
|35||Inigo Gomez Elorriaga (Spa)|
|36||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|37||Nicolas Le Besq (Fra)|