World champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) is back to his winning ways, taking a thrilling fourth World Cup round of the season on a dry Sunday afternoon in Namur, Belgium. With a late attack, Van der Poel beat World Cup leader Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and last year’s Namur winner Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).
Van der Poel is still on the way back to top form after undergoing knee surgery in October. When crossing the line his hands showed surprise, opening his eyes wide. After the finish line he fell on the ground, clearly having gone to the limit to get the victory. TV images showed an emotional Van der Poel when he freshened up for the post-race flash interview in which he explained that these were the duels he trained for.
“I’m enormously happy. This is one of my best victories, especially after my injury. This is what excites people, winning a duel against these two top riders. This is why I do this, why I started doing cyclo-cross,” Van der Poel said on Telenet Play Sports.
Van Aert strengthens his lead in the World Cup standings and now comfortably leads all three major cyclo-cross series. Despite being beaten. the Belgian 21-year-old was somewhat pleased with how things unfolded.
“It was close. In the last lap it was about timing your attack right. He did that slightly better than me. I went too early on that last climb and felt lactic acid filling up my legs. When he attacked I didn’t have a reply. It was a good battle,” Van Aert said. “In the World Cup it was close before this round but I did a good job today.”
Van Aert now holds 290 points, 29 more than Sven Nys (Crelan-AA-Drink), who had a tough day and finished eighth. Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) is third with 255 points.
After three laps of racing on a course featuring steep descents, a difficult off-camber descent and various climbs, there were still eight riders left in front. Apart from Van der Poel, Van Aert and Pauwels there were early leaders Sven Nys and Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea), surprising names like Michael Boros (Corendon-BKCP) and Clément Venturini (Cofidis) and European champion Lars van der Haar. In the following lap only a poorly started Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) came back from behind. Meanwhile, Van der Haar was active in front but a crash kept him from creating a gap.
Halfway through the fifth of nine laps, Van Aert opened up the gas when exiting the off-camber descent. Van der Poel quickly closed the gap. A duel was in the making, but while the others were gasping for air Pauwels managed to close the gap on the leaders solo at the end of the fifth lap. Van Aert kept the pace high and in no time the three leaders collected 40 seconds on the main chase group, with Venturini dangling in between these groups.
During the following lap the pace in front dropped. In the chase group Van der Haar attacked with only Vantornout being able to keep up. The big attacks in front were kept for the final lap, and the duo Van der Haar and Vantornout passed Venturini, coming back 20 seconds off the leaders. Behind them Aerts was the best of the rest, leaving Venturini and a struggling Nys behind.
In the final lap, there were a couple of accelerations from Van Aert and Van der Poel, fighting to get the lead position at the off-camber section with Pauwels in a passive role. Van der Poel won this first duel but failed to drop Van Aert on the climb following the off-camber section. Pauwels kept bouncing off the back but was still in touching distance.
On the final climb at about 400 metres from the finish Van Aert put in a long effort. Van der Poel managed to hang on, with Pauwels at a couple of metres. At the top Van Aert sat down and so did Van der Poel. Just as Pauwels was about to bridge back up Van der Poel managed to accelerate again. He punched away, passing the pit area just before the final corner with a small gap, which made his pit crew go mad. Pauwels was shaking his head at this point. Van Aert kept pushing but Van der Poel had just enough of a gap to bring home the victory.
“I was already over the limit when I passed Wout before the off-camber section. [After Van Aert’s attack on the last climb] I was totally dead. When he sat I did so too. Then I stood while I wasn’t able too. Surprisingly enough there was more left in the tank than I thought,” Van der Poel explained.
The next round of the World Cup will be on Boxing Day at the car racing circuit of Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, on the same course where the world championships will be held in January.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned)||1:02:43|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel)||0:00:01|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel)||0:00:07|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel)||0:00:42|
|5||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned)||0:00:58|
|6||Toon Aerts (Bel)||0:01:00|
|7||Clément Venturini (Fra)||0:01:01|
|8||Sven Nys (Bel)||0:01:40|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi)||0:01:49|
|10||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned)||0:01:50|
|11||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:01:55|
|12||Michael Boros (Cze)||0:02:01|
|13||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:30|
|14||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||0:02:48|
|15||Steve Chainel (Fra)||0:02:58|
|16||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:03:02|
|17||Radomir Simunek (Cze)||0:03:07|
|18||Rob Peeters (Bel)||0:03:08|
|19||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||0:03:11|
|20||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:03:15|
|21||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:03:27|
|22||Francis Mourey (Fra)||0:03:46|
|23||Stephen Hyde (USA)||0:03:55|
|24||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel)||0:03:59|
|25||Simon Zahner (Swi)|
|26||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:04:08|
|27||Ismael Esteban Aguando (Spa)||0:04:09|
|28||Martin Haring (Svk)||0:04:14|
|29||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)||0:04:24|
|30||Lukas Winterberg (Swi)||0:04:53|
|31||Jeremy Powers (USA)||0:05:09|
|32||Ian Field (GBr)||0:05:29|
|33||Niels Wubben (Ned)||0:05:42|
|34||Lukas Flückiger (Swi)||0:05:54|
|35||Sascha Weber (Ger)||0:06:06|
|36||Jim Aernouts (Bel)||0:06:09|
|37||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned)||0:06:27|
|38||John Gadret (Fra)||0:06:32|
|39||Lubomir Petrus (Cze)|
|40||Michael (Jr) Schweizer (Ger)|
|41||Andreas Moser (Swi)|
|42||Vojtech Nipl (Cze)|
|43||Severin Saegesser (Swi)|
|44||Travis Livermon (USA)|
|45||Mariusz Gil (Pol)|
|46||Jeremy Martin (Can)|
|47||Michael Van Den Ham (Can)|
|48||Philipp Walsleben (Ger)|
|49||Gusty Bausch (Lux)|
|50||Antonin Marecaille (Fra)|
|51||Christian Helmig (Lux)|
|52||Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)|
|53||Aaron Schooler (Can)|
|54||Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)|
|55||Paul Oldham (GBr)|
|56||Ramon Sagues Portabella (Spa)|
|57||Matej Lasak (Cze)|
|58||Anthonin Didier (Fra)|
|59||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|60||Michael Wildhaber (Swi)|
|61||Josep Betalu (Spa)|
|62||Emil Hekele (Cze)|
|63||Massimo Morabito (Lux)|
|64||Asier Arregui Dominguez (Spa)|
|65||Damien Mougel (Fra)|
|66||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)|
|67||Garry Millburn (Aus)|
|68||Angus Edmond (NZl)|
|69||Fredrik Haraldseth (Nor)|
|70||Robert Marion (USA)|