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Pauwels tops Van der Poel in Middelkerke

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Kevin Pauwels wins the final Superprestige race.

Kevin Pauwels wins the final Superprestige race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Corne van Kessel

Corne van Kessel
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Klaas Vantornout

Klaas Vantornout
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Gianni Vermeersch

Gianni Vermeersch
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jim Aernouts

Jim Aernouts
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sven Nys

Sven Nys
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Philipp Walsleben

Philipp Walsleben
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Rob Peeters

Rob Peeters
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Clement l'Hotellerie

Clement l'Hotellerie
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.

Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.

Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.

Riders tackle the long sand section early in the race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tom Meeusen

Tom Meeusen
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Wout van Aert in the sand.

Wout van Aert in the sand.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Wout van Aert, Lars van der Haar and Tom Meeusen.

Wout van Aert, Lars van der Haar and Tom Meeusen.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mathieu van der Poel just barely held onto the series lead.

Mathieu van der Poel just barely held onto the series lead.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Wout van Aert at the finish.

Wout van Aert at the finish.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevin Pauwels

Kevin Pauwels
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevin Pauwels

Kevin Pauwels
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevin Pauwels ended the season on a high note.

Kevin Pauwels ended the season on a high note.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Middelkerke podium.

The Middelkerke podium.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Van der Poel won the series by a single point.

Van der Poel won the series by a single point.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The final series podium: Pauwels, Van der Poel and Van der Haar.

The final series podium: Pauwels, Van der Poel and Van der Haar.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The final series podium: Pauwels, Van der Poel and Van der Haar.

The final series podium: Pauwels, Van der Poel and Van der Haar.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevin Pauwels at the finish.

Kevin Pauwels at the finish.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevin Pauwels wins the final Superprestige race.

Kevin Pauwels wins the final Superprestige race.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Van der Poel worked hard to finish second.

Van der Poel worked hard to finish second.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Van der Poel worked hard to finish second.

Van der Poel worked hard to finish second.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Van der Poel was exhausted at the finish.

Van der Poel was exhausted at the finish.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Lars van de Haar powers through a sand section.

Lars van de Haar powers through a sand section.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

In a very exciting eighth and final round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series in Middelkerke, Belgium, it was world champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) who captured the overall series victory. The second place from Van der Poel behind race winner and final rival Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was just enough to hold on to his series lead and the 27.500 euro bank cheque that comes along with it. 

“It was very close but I’m very satisfied,” Van der Poel told Vier after the race. “I had to dig quite deep. I didn’t have a great day.”

If Pauwels won the race, Van der Powel had to finish right behind him to hang onto the series lead. During the first half of the race Van der Poel seemed to have everything under control. Instead of riding behind Pauwels he rode in front, distancing a group that featured Pauwels but also Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin). The world champion made the difference by hopping the barriers and hopping a ditch just before the finish line. “A few times I created a gap but I twice got stuck in the sand, which cost me a lot of energy,” Van der Poel said.

With three laps to go Van der Poel was once again leading the race until he went over the handlebars when hopping into a short sand section. “That crash hurt my vital parts. It hurt a lot,” Van der Poel said.

While Van der Poel recovered he was passed by Wout Van Aert, Lars van der Haar and Kevin Pauwels. During the penultimate lap Pauwels exploited a small mistake from Van der Poel to create a gap. Pauwels overtook Van Aert by hopping over the barriers and then sped away by hopping over the ditch, in true Van der Poel-style.

When hitting the bell lap Pauwels was the virtual winner of the Superprestige series since Van Aert rode in between Pauwels and Van der Poel.

“When Kevin quickly created a gap and left Wout behind it was hard, also mentally. I bridged back up with Wout and gave everything I had in the final lap. With the barriers and the ditch I had a few more cards to play but in the end I was wasted,” Van der Poel said.

Pauwels rode his best passage of the sand section but behind him Van Aert rode his worst and saw Van der Poel riding away. Pauwels spotted that the situation had turned around in favour of Van der Poel. The gap was too big to close down for Van Aert. “It’s very painful. It’s great that I was riding well but it’s too bad Wout wasn’t a tiny bit stronger. I kept an eye on them but saw that Mathieu had dropped Wout,” Pauwels told Vier.

Pauwels once again hopped the barriers and the ditch and headed for his third Superprestige victory of the season. When looking back Pauwels spotted Van der Poel and he realized the overall win wouldn’t be for him. He celebrated the race victory without a smile. “It’s too bad but the win adds glamour to my season. It’s another big victory. Next year it will be even harder,” Pauwels said.

Van der Poel crossed the line, lying exhausted over his handlebars. Pauwels clearly made him work hard for his money. Van Aert was third ahead of Lars van der Haar, Tom Meeusen and Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace). Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) bounced back from a poor start to take seventh place ahead of Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Vincent Baestaens (BKCP-Powerplus) and Tim Merlier (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).

 Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team
2Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team
4Lars van der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
6Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team
7Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team
8Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team
9Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team
10Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team

 

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