European champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) put on another display of his superiority on Saturday afternoon by winning the fourth UCI Telenet Cyclo-Cross World Cup round in Tábor, Czech Republic. The 23 year-old Dutch champion outclassed the competition on a fast course in chilly Bohemia, with
“I got away on a technical section and immediately had the right sensations,” Van der Poel said. "I rode my own pace then it’s easier to chose your lines."
Belgian rider Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) was best of the rest, holding off Dutch rider Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) in the final lap. World Cup leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) was fourth and strengthens his lead over world champion Wout van Aert. The latter rode below par in Tábor and finished seventh at 46 seconds from his arch rival Van der Poel.
Ever since winning his first-ever World Cup round in Tábor as a first-year junior back in October 2011, Van der Poel has been unbeaten in south Bohemia. He won every race that was contested near the Luznice river, on the outskirts of Tábor. Those races include his only World Cup title among the Elite Men in 2015 and the European title in 2017.
“It’s a course that just suits me very well," he said. "I haven’t lost a single edition here. I’m proud about that and I like being here a lot. I became Elite Men world champion for the first time over here so that’ll remain special."
Though sunny, temperatures during the race hovered around 5 degrees Celsius and earlier races showed that several parts of the course were featuring icy patches. A possible pile-up at a short off-camber climb made a good start more important than ever. The top guns stayed out of trouble, with Van der Poel taking the hole shot ahead of Van Aert and Aerts.
Halfway through the opening lap, a long line of riders reached the barriers and those were expected to create spectacle. The barriers in Tábor are placed on an uphill section, making it extremely difficult to stay on the bike and hop the barriers. Van der Poel is known to be able to pull off this feat, but more riders managed to copy his trick on Saturday afternoon. For riders who limit risks and opt to hop off their bike at the barriers, a few seconds time loss is the outcome.
Most riders from the Telenet Fidea Lions team - except Aerts - opted to run, thus being in the hurt box on that location. In the background, Vincent Baestaens was spotted in a crash on the hot spot, while in front there was no immediate damage visible and Aerts charged forward.
After the opening lap, there were only about 10 riders left in the front group. The second lap was also for Aerts, and it seemed as if there would be no immediate changes until Van der Poel took over the command. On a part of the course with endless loops, he moved into the lead and Aerts struggled to hold his wheel. Suddenly, the World Cup leader bobbled in a bumpy corner.
Michael Vanthourenhout profited to move into second position, but meanwhile Van der Poel had opened up a gap of a few metres. That was the signal for the Dutch rider to open the gas even more. Van der Poel hit the third lap with a bonus of only four seconds on Vanthourenhout and seven on the rest of the group.
Seven minutes later, Van der Poel had clocked the fastest lap time of the day with 6:44, while Vanthourenhout needed 15 seconds more to cover the 2.9km long course. The lanky Belgian did manage to hold off the rest of the chase group.
“I briefly tried to get back to Mathieu but realised that he was going too fast," Vanthourenhout said. " I decided to ride at my own pace because otherwise, you blow up your engine. The others weren’t coming closer. I rode the next lap at my maximum and managed to distance them a bit."
Indeed, Van Aert was unable to get closer, and during the fourth lap of the race he punctured in the front, fading back in the group. After a bike switch, Van Aert suddenly found himself down in seventh place at 42 seconds from Van der Poel.
During the remainder of the race, the positions remained the same. Van der Poel rode the same fast lines through the corners, hopped the barriers and never showed a sign of weakness. During the two final laps, he took his foot of the gas. He provided the fans with spectacle, making a big jump early on in the penultimate lap and in the final lap he avoided risks, hoping off his bike to run the barriers.
“It’s good to hop over the barriers, and I’m glad not to have crashed during the race like I did yesterday and during the recon today,” Van der Poel said.
The young Dutch rider skipped the two opening rounds in the US, but with his second consecutive World Cup win, Van der Poel moves into 11th place in the World Cup standings.
The battle for second place was on when Lars van der Haar managed to bridge up to Vanthourenhout in the seventh lap, despite losing time at the barriers on every passage. The duo headed into the final lap together, and Van der Haar moved into the lead just before the crucial section.
“I knew I would lose it there," Van der Haar said. " I managed to overtake him where he didn’t expect it but he was stronger, had something left in his tank and passed me again. I did try to beat him. The barriers aren’t good for me but that’s been the case all season."
Vanthourenhout acknowledged that analysis. “Due to the barriers - which I love - I was able to get second place," he said. "It’s a course I like a lot with a lot of altitude and also some technical sections. On this course I became world champion in the U23 category and narrowly lost out on third place at the European championships last year."
Vanthourenhout moves into fourth place in the World Cup standings with 195 points.
Toon Aerts didn’t have to sprint to capture fourth place at 39 seconds, with 23 year-old teammate Quinten Hermans not pushing on. Aerts extends his lead in the World Cup standings over Van Aert from 15 to 27 points, totalling 285 points. Hermans remains third overall, now at 55 points.
Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Bingoal) rode one of his best races this season. He moved up to the group with Wout van Aert, and in the final lap he managed to drop the world champion, finishing sixth. Van Aert won the sprint for seventh place from an impressive 22-year-old Joris Nieuwenhuis (Development Team Sunweb), the 2017 U23 world champion from Belvaux. Michal Boros was the first home rider in 15th place.
The cyclo-cross caravan travels to Belgium tonight, with the third round of the DVV Trophy in Hamme coming up on Sunday. Next week, the fifth round of the World Cup will take place in the sand of Koksijde.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned)||1:02:43|
|2||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:00:14|
|3||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned)||0:00:20|
|4||Toon Aerts (Bel)||0:00:39|
|5||Quinten Hermans (Bel)||0:00:40|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||0:00:44|
|7||Wout Van Aert (Bel)||0:00:46|
|8||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)|
|9||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:01:05|
|10||Daan Soete (Bel)||0:01:12|
|11||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||0:01:14|
|12||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:01:15|
|13||David Van Der Poel (Ned)||0:01:37|
|14||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:01:38|
|15||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:01:39|
|16||Jim Aernouts (Bel)||0:01:51|
|17||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa)||0:01:56|
|18||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:01:58|
|19||Fabien Canal (Fra)||0:01:59|
|20||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||0:02:09|
|21||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel)||0:02:19|
|22||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:38|
|23||Matthieu Boulo (Fra)||0:02:40|
|24||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)|
|25||Adam Toupalík (Cze)||0:02:46|
|26||Wietse Bosmans (Bel)||0:02:48|
|27||Thijs Aerts (Bel)|
|28||Jan Nesvadba (Cze)|
|29||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:03:01|
|30||Gioele Bertolini (Ita)||0:03:02|
|31||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)||0:03:07|
|32||Simon Zahner (Swi)||0:03:10|
|33||Marek Konwa (Pol)||0:03:12|
|34||Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)||0:03:14|
|35||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)||0:03:17|
|36||Tomáš Paprstka (Cze)||0:03:25|
|37||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:03:37|
|38||Braam Merlier (Bel)||0:03:50|
|39||Severin Sägesser (Swi)|
|40||Gosse Van Der Meer (Ned)||0:04:11|
|41||Yan Gras (Fra)||0:04:26|
|42||Alois Falenta (Fra)||0:04:49|
|43||Michal Malík (Cze)||0:04:55|
|44||Jan Škarnitzl (Cze)|
|45||Valentin Humbert (Fra)||0:05:30|
|46||Karol Michalski (Pol)||0:05:43|
|47||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)|
|48||Frederik Hähnel (Ger)|
|49||Ondrej Glajza (Svk)|
|50||Kenneth Hansen (Den)|
|51||Henrik Jansson (Swe)|
|52||Niall Davis (Irl)|
|53||Philipp Heigl (Aut)|
|54||Benjamin Justesen (Den)|
|55||Tommy Moberg Nielsen (Den)|
|DNF||Sieben Wouters (Ned)|
|DNF||Ismael Esteban Aguero (Spa)|
|DNF||Steve Chainel (Fra)|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)|