Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) won the muddy sixth round of the Bpost Bank Trophy cyclo-cross series on Tuesday afternoon. The 20-year-old Belgian won the Azencross in snow covered Loenhout, Belgium ahead of fellow youngster Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus). On an unforgiving course with snow, mud and ice water, Van Aert profited from a small mistake from Van der Poel to ride away and take his fourth win in five of the series' rounds. It’s Van Aert's eighth win among the pro ranks this season.
“The victory and an improved classification, it was a fantastic day,” Van Aert told Sporza.
Van Aert, world champion in the men's under-23 category extended his lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee series over Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) up to 4:45 minutes. “It’s a big gap and that should not go wrong. Baal will still be a tough race, a sufferfest. Hopefully I can round things up in my hometown Lille,” Van Aert said. “The cold only affected my feet. The rest of the body was warm enough on a course like this.”
Nys didn’t have the general classification on his mind. The 38-year-old Belgian champion had his best race in several weeks and battled long for third place at long distance from the two leaders, eventually finishing eighth. “I had a lot of power in my legs but didn’t dare to go flat out in the final lap. The result wasn’t important. What mattered was making progress. Finishing on the podium in Baal would be great,” said Nys to Sporza.
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) won the fight for the final podium spot, finishing third at two minutes back from Van Aert. He remains in fourth place in the general classification at three seconds from Nys.
Van Aert and Van der Poel relegated the rest of the starting field during the second of seven demanding laps. At the intermediate sprint, he picked up the fifteen bonus seconds just ahead Van der Poel. Meeusen was first of the chasers at that stage, picking up five bonus seconds but trailing by nine seconds on the leaders.
From there the young duo kept extending their lead over a large chase group in which positions often changed. During the fourth lap, Van Aert chest-planted on his handlebars when he cut a corner too short but Van der Poel was unable to profit. Two laps later, Van der Poel got stuck in the same corner, though in different style. This time Van Aert was able to create a small gap that Van der Poel never closed down.
The gap quickly grew up to 16 seconds when hitting the final lap. The first two positions remained the same. A mud-clad Van Aert crossed the finish line with his mouth wide open, then taking a bow.
“It was a really hard course today. My goal was to defend my classification and improve it if possible. On a course like this that’s a unique opportunity. Mathieu was the perfect road companion who wanted to race. Nevertheless, I had to ride when the pace dropped because I rode for the classification. I expected to fall short in the final laps. Still, I managed to keep up the pace in the two final laps, whereas he somewhat faded, I think,” Van Aert said.
Meeusen’s technical excellence - often bunny-hopping ditches - propelled him to third place. Fourth-placed Gianni Vermeersch (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) rode a remarkably strong race. Coming from behind, he helped teammate Kevin Pauwels several times on the long road section, flatted but still finished ahead of his team leader, who rolled across the finish line in sixth place.
Pauwels trails Nys in the general classification by one second. In between the Sunweb teammates, mud-specialist Jan Denuwelaere (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) placed fifth, riding his best race of the season shortly after announcing he would ride at a lower level next season.
While Nys, Pauwels and Meeusen are ranked within three seconds of each other, the rest of the pack is out of contention for a podium result in the BPo-series. Lars van der Haar (Development Team Giant-Shimano) wasn’t present in Loenhout but he’s still fifth overall at 11:16 from Van Aert.
The next round of the BPo-series is held on New Year’s Day in Nys’ hometown Baal, Belgium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace||1:04:02|
|2||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:37|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:02:01|
|4||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:17|
|5||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:20|
|7||Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:24|
|8||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink||0:02:25|
|9||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace||0:02:36|
|10||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:03:01|
|11||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace||0:03:04|
|12||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - Kwadro||0:03:11|
|13||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:21|
|14||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:03:41|
|15||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:03:49|
|16||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Veranclassic - Doltcini||0:04:31|
|17||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:04:37|
|18||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - Kwadro||0:04:44|
|19||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned)||0:04:58|
|20||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)||0:05:01|
|21||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - Kwadro||0:05:17|
|22||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:05:19|
|23||Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg CT||0:05:56|
|24||Flavien Dassonville (Fra) BigMat - Auber 93||0:05:59|
|25||Mariusz Gil (Pol)||0:07:03|
|26||Michael Boros (Cze)||0:07:04|
|27||Kevin Cant (Bel) Corendon - Kwadro||0:08:01|
|28||Clément Lhotellerie (Fra)||0:08:23|
|29||Michal Malík (Cze)|
|30||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned)|
|31||Niels Koyen (Bel)|
|32||Ismael Felix Barba Frutos (Spa)|
|33||Emil Hekele (Cze)|
|34||Kenneth Hansen (Den)|
|35||Fabian Obrist (Swi)|
|36||Angus Edmond (NZl)|
|37||Yannick Mayer (Ger)|
|38||Garry Millburn (Aus)|
|39||Miguel Fillaut (Fra)|
|40||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|41||Christophe Cavazzana (Fra)|
|42||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)|
|43||Robert Wardell (GBr)|
|44||Paul Redenbach (Aus)|
|45||Asier Urdaibai (Spa)|
|46||Arnau Rota (Spa)|
|47||Mario Matijevic (Bel)|
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