One day after a spectacular win at the final DVV Trophy round in Lille, Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) won again in the penultimate round of the Superprestige series in Hoogstraten. It's the nineteenth victory of the season for Van der Poel. Once again, world champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) fell short against the Dutch champion in a direct duel. And also not for the first time this season, Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) finished in third place.
"Again, it was an exciting race where a lot was going on. It was a very tough course to race on," Van der Poel told Telenet Play Sports.
Van der Poel won all but one of the Superprestige rounds this season but still, Van Aert is only five points behind.
"Last year, Wout had a problem with his derailleur. That can happen to me as well. The classification is only decided when you cross the line in Middelkerke," Van der Poel said.
Overnight rain created a muddy course in Hoogstraten. The long twisting section and barriers halfway round the course suited the Dutch 22-year-old rider, with Van Aert not able to hop the barriers as fast as Van der Poel. The final mud section just before the finishing straight suited Van Aert much more. Throughout the race, Van der Poel took the initiative and he quickly discovered Van Aert opted to run the barriers. Straight from the start, Van Aert was forced to chase Van der Poel, Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Pauwels.
The world champion only bridged up when Van der Poel made a small mistake in the mud at the start of the second lap. From the second lap on, the four rode away from the rest of the field. Pauwels often struggled in the running section at the back-end of the course but he always managed to return on the asphalt when the pace dropped in front. From the second lap Van Aert was distanced in the twisting section after the barriers.
Afterwards, he vented his frustration. "As long as those fucking-loops feature in this course I'll never win here, I think. At halfway there's also the barriers in that section. I lacked the morale to try it. It's my own fault that I'm running the barriers but every lap you lose time there," Van Aert told Telenet Play Sports.
"Mathieu has his qualities and exploits them. I don't want to complain too much. It's up to me to become better at it. I know what to work on," Van Aert added.
Nevertheless, Van Aert managed to fight back and he almost bridged back up before reaching the finishing straight. During the sixth of nine laps, Meeusen disappeared from the front with a saddle problem. The mental blow threw Meeusen backwards, and he eventually finished sixth at nearly two minutes.
Unsurprisingly, the endless chasing was wearing Van Aert and Pauwels down. Mentally, Van Aert cracked at the start of the penultimate lap. He made a small mistake in the muddy sections at the beginning of the lap, offering Van der Poel a bonus for free. It turned out to be the decisive moment as Van der Poel seized the opportunity and never allowed Van Aert to close.
Van der Poel realised he was using the right tactics. "I had to do it like that. I wasn't aware that I had a bonus during the penultimate lap. Someone was shouting and when I looked back I saw the gap. I no longer had to wait. The final lap was a matter of avoiding mistakes," Van der Poel said.
Van Aert trailed Van der Poel by eleven seconds when hitting the final lap, with Pauwels a few seconds further back due to the running section just before the finish. Pauwels briefly took the initiative during the sixth lap, when Meeusen fell back. He lacked the power to get ahead of Van Aert at the finish due to the running section.
Van der Poel reached the finish line with a five-second bonus on Van Aert and formed a cross-sign with his arms. Van Aert pushed on until the end but was clearly wasted when he crossed the line. Pauwels was third at fifteen seconds. Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) was best of the rest at 1:17, preceding Corné van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Tom Meeusen. Non-Elite rider Vincent Baestaens impressed with a seventh place.
The final round of the Superprestige series is held next week in Middelkerke, Belgium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||1:02:34|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Verandas Willems - Crelan||0:00:06|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin||0:00:16|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:01:18|
|5||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:33|
|6||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:46|
|7||Vincent Bastaens (Bel) VZW Koninklijke Stoempersclub||0:02:04|
|8||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:05|
|9||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:14|
|10||Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice||0:02:24|
|11||Wietse Bosmans (Bel) AC Centuloise||0:02:43|
|12||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games CyclinG||0:02:52|
|13||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Steylaerts - Verona||0:02:59|
|14||Rob Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice||0:03:09|
|15||Tim Merlier (Bel) Verandas Willems - Crelan||0:03:25|
|16||Joeri Adams (Bel) Kalas - H.Essers Cycling Team||0:03:32|
|17||Yorben Van Tichelt (Bel) ERA Real Estate - Circus||0:04:09|
|18||Michael Boros (Cze) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice||0:04:16|
|19||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) ERA Real Estate-Circus|
|20||Braam Merlier (Bel) Steylaerts-Verona||0:04:27|
|21||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex Superano||0:04:47|
|22||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Team Mahieu - Kona - Vandermee||0:05:07|
|23||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibañez (Spa) MMR-Spiuk CX Team||0:05:15|
|24||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) ZZPR Hanclean||0:05:23|
|25||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Steylaerts-Verona||0:05:27|
|26||Stan Godrie (Ned) Verandas Willems Cycling Team||0:05:33|
|27||Bart Hofman (Bel) Nodrugs Heroes Flanders||0:05:39|
|28||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) ZZPR.Nl - Destil||0:05:44|
|29||Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:06:01|
|30||Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa) Beobank Coredon||0:06:03|
|31||Michael Van Den Ham (Can) Garneau - Easton Cycling||0:06:09|
|32||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon||0:06:17|
|33||Niels Wubben (Ned) Westland Wil Vooruit|
|34||Jeremy Martin (Can) Focus CX Team Canada|
|35||Kerry Werner (USA) Kona Endurance Team|
|36||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Project Cross Racing|
|37||Ruben Vandevelde (Bel) Thuisverpleging Delphine Decoc|
|38||Stijn Huys (Bel) Bruynooghe Cycling Team|
|39||Antonin Marecaille (Fra) Eseg Douai|
|40||Tim De Schuyter (Bel) Dmc- Cycling Team VZW|
|41||Jens Gys (Bel) Vp Consulting-Zannata Cycling|
|42||Benjamin Krawczyk (Fra) Cl-Barlin|
|DNF||Philipp Walsleben (Bel) Ermua|
|DNF||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Kalas - H.Essers Cycling Team|
|DNF||Stephen Hyde (USA) Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com|
|DNF||Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions|
|DNF||Angelo De Clercq (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games Cyclin|