The two-time and reigning UCI Cyclo-cross World Champion added his 33rd consecutive victory Sunday by dominating the fifth round of the World Cup in Koksijde, where he started in row three in 24th position and was in the lead by the end of the first lap despite being held up behind an early crash. He finished the race 25 seconds ahead of runner-up Laurens Sweeck and 35 seconds ahead of third-placed Toon Aerts.
The reigning European champion's most recent win follows last weekend's victory in round 4 of the World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic, a win the following day at DVV Verzekeringen trofee Flandriencross, and victory at Ambiancecross on Saturday.
Van der Poel's last loss dates back to the 2018 Koppenbergcross on the hilly Belgian course that tackles the famed cobbled climb used in the road Classics. Van der Poel suffered there in 2016 but won the race in 2017. The 2018 race was another bad day for the Dutchman, however, as he lost contact with the leaders on the second lap and was never a factor at the front again, eventually finishing 21st.
Van der Poel skipped Koppenbergcross this year and didn't start his 'cross season until two days later at Ruddervoorde, where he began his 2019-20 run with a win ahead of Sweeck and Aerts.
The 25-year-old Correndon-Circus rider turned his attention to the road in a more concerted manner this year, making a big splash with wins in the Classics at Amstel Gold, Brabanste-Pihl, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and Grand Prix de Denain. He also took a stage win at the Arctic Race of Norway, plus three stages and the overall win at the Tour of Britain.
Van der Poel went into the UCI Road World Championships as a favourite for the road race, but he faltered on the difficult Yorkshire course and finished 34th.
Wout van Aert, the three-time World Champion who has been Van der Poel's main rival on the 'cross circuit, crashed heavily in the Tour de France time trial, injuring his leg with a deep laceration that has kept him out of competition.
Van der Poel's return to 'cross and the run of results currently have him leading the UCI's rankings, but young Belgian Eli Iserbyt continues to lead the World Cup standings ahead of Aerts with four rounds remaining.
Next up in the World Cup is round 6 in Namur on December 22, then Heusden-Zolder on December 26, Nommay on January 19, and the final round in Hoogerheide on January 27.
This 2020 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships will take place in early February in Dübendorf, Switzerland, where Van der Poel will once again be the favourite for another rainbow jersey.
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