Van Aert takes solo win at Superprestige Francorchamps

Nys second and Pauwels third

Young Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) destroyed the opposition during a muddy fifth round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series at the famous F1 car racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. A mud-clad Van Aert had more than a minute bonus over runner-up Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink). Van Aert extends his already comfortable lead in the Superprestige series over Nys up to nine points.

“I’m extremely happy with this victory,” Van Aert told Telenet Play & Sports TV. “It’s a tough course where you have to ride at your own pace for an hour. It’s those courses I like the most. When I had a comfortable lead halfway I was still suffering, with enjoyment too.”

It was the second time the race was organized at the F1 car racing circuit. Only 26 riders lined up with Van Aert at the bottom of the famous and steep Raidillon corner, next to the Eau Rouge stream. Straight away they were forced to blast up the steep stretch of the F1 course. Thijs van Amerongen (Telenet-Fidea) quickly displayed his excellent running skills as he created a good gap on the rest of the pack. When the Dutchman punctured in the second lap he was passed by Van Aert on the long and steep run-up that was said to average a 45 degrees gradient. Van Aert then charged through an extremely muddy section with giant steps. The strong runner outpaced the rest of the field.

“I knew the steep running section favoured me so that’s why I accelerated there. Straight away I had a gap at the top. From there I rode my own pace. Apparently that solo acceleration was enough,” Van Aert said.

World champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) took his responsibility and led the large chase group in the chase on Van Aert. Van der Poel then dropped the rest of the chasers before climbing up the Raidillon a third time. In the background Nys was moving up through the field after a calm start. On the Raidillon he charged into third place with only Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) being able to hang on.

During the third lap the gap between Van Aert and Van der Poel was still only 12 seconds but then Van der Poel had to shift back. Nys and Vantornout bridged up with the young Dutch World champion with the rest of the chasers not too far behind. On the Raidillon it was Nys who unleashed his power and suddenly Van der Poel swept aside and nearly parked his vehicle. Little later, van der Poel crashed on a slippery steep descent and his race was over. He went on to finish twelfth, a major blow for him.

“It was miserable today. I’m disappointed. It seemed like I couldn’t ride my bike today. It’s massively frustrating. Maybe last weekend was too good so I expected too much of this race,” Van der Poel told Telenet Play & Sports straight after he finished up the last ascent of the Raidillon.

Meanwhile a cease-fire in the chase group allowed Van Aert to extend his lead in one lap from 20 seconds up to a minute after the fourth of eight laps. Nys gave up the victory and dropped back into the chase group of eight riders. “Even with a better start I don’t think I would be able to follow him,” Nys told Telenet Play Sports TV.

Probably the focus was on second place in the chase group and halfway Van Aert had a lead of nearly one minute and a half. Then Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) accelerated away from the chase group with Vantornout on his wheel. Nys closed the gap on the Raidillon where Pauwels lost a lot of ground due to flat tyre, he explained after the race. Nys continued his effort and passed Aert and Vantornout. The latter briefly managed to keep up until the duo hit the final lap.

While Van Aert took a late stumble on the run-up, Nys charged away from Vantornout. Clearly Van Aert was the best in Francorchamps with Nys being best of the rest. On the final ascent of the Raidillon the third place turned out to be the prey of Pauwels, who bounced back and snatched the podium spot away from Vantornout.

“It’s too bad he didn’t grant me the podium result but I’m satisfied with my performace,” Vantornout told Telenet Play Sports TV.

Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) was a strong fifth ahead of teammates Aerts and Thijs van Amerongen. Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) wasn’t optimistic about his chances ahead of the race on the course for runners. He finished eighth ahead of Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Tim Merlier (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace).

The next round of the Superprestige series is held in Diegem near Brussels on December 27.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team1:03:00 
2Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team0:01:04 
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:13 
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:16 
5Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:29 
6Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:30 
7Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:33 
8Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin0:01:42 
9Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:02:09 
10Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team0:02:46 
11Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era - Murprotec0:02:58 
12Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Corendon0:03:03 
13David Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Corendon0:03:30 
14Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:03:36 
15Marcel Meisen (Ger) Team Kuota Lotto0:04:15 
16Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team0:04:30 
17Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.0:05:12 
18Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP - Corendon0:05:59 
19Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:06:04 
20Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team0:06:28 
21Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW-1 Lap 
22Michiel van der Heijden (Ned)  
23Martin Eriksson (Swe)  
24Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era - Murprotec  
25Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team  
26Garry Millburn (Aus)  
27Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era - Murprotec  

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