Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) made an extraordinary return to cyclo-cross on Saturday, winning the Superprestige Boom by nearly two minutes.
The three-time world champion had played down expectations as he came back from his off-season after a successful campaign on the road but obliterated a field that had been in the flow of competition since October.
There was a minor wobble as the Belgian crashed into the thick mud on a descent on the penultimate lap but, despite having to run his bike to the pits, the incident did almost nothing to sway the complexion of a one-sided affair.
Toon Aerts (Baloise Trek), who had a rollercoaster afternoon, bounced back from crashes of his own to finish alone in second place, 1:42 behind Van Aert.
Lars van der Haar trailed in six seconds later to claim the final podium spot.
Eli Iserbyt, Pim Ronhaar, and Michael Vanthourenhout were the next best from a chase group that chopped and changed behind the constant presence of Van Aert out front, while Tom Pidcock finished seventh on his own rollercoaster return to ‘cross.
Having not racing his bike since Paris-Roubaix at the start of October, Van Aert had also been ill in the week before the race but showed no sign of being off the pace on a demanding Boom course that was full of sloppy mud and required plenty of time on foot.
He kept a watchful eye on a cagey opening lap but decided to stamp his authority on the second of the seven, moving to the front before storming up one of the steep muddy slopes. He was the only one who managed to ride it without dismounting and the writing was on the wall. Aerts managed to claw his way back on initially but made mistakes uphill and downhill, leaving Van Aert alone, where he would remain for the rest of the race.
By the end of the second lap, Van Aert was 15 seconds clear of Iserbyt, and by the end of the third lap he had already stormed out to 51 seconds.
Pidcock, who last raced at the World Championships road race at the end of September, started a little slowly but tried to force the issue in the chase on lap four. His risk-taking, however, saw him crash twice in quick succession, and he fell out of podium contention.
On lap five, Pidcock was trailing what was a seven-man group that had formed behind Van Aert, although it did start to stretch out towards the end of the lap. Aerts crashed on the downhill muddy section that claimed the most victims, falling well back, while Vanthourenhout and Haar moved to the fore, followed closely by Iserbyt and Van Kessel. Aerts, however, recovered remarkably from his crash and set about clawing his way back into contention.
Van Aert suffered his only real wobble on the penultimate lap, losing control on that same downhill section, with his bike swinging into the barriers before he came crashing down. Despite taking a while to remount and subsequently proceeding to the pits on foot, he went on to complete the lap having only lost around 10 seconds, his lead still commanding at 1:52.
There were no mistakes on the final lap and the real battle was for the podium positions. Vanthourenhout had forged clear towards the end of the previous lap, but Aerts was on the charge. He first caught and passed Van der Haar before doing the same to a fading Vanthourenhout.
The Belgian may not have been able to think about getting close to Van Aert but he did move level with Iserbyt at the top of the overall Superprestige series standings. Having won the opener but watched Iserbyt win the following three rounds, he moves level on 82 points.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma||0:56:29|
|2||Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:40|
|3||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:48|
|4||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:52|
|5||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:54|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:02:01|
|7||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:02:13|
|8||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) IKO - Crelan||0:02:16|
|9||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:02:22|
|10||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:27|
|11||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:02:42|
|12||Ben Turner (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:02:59|
|13||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:08|
|14||Joran Wyseure (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:10|
|15||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Burgos-BH||0:03:28|
|16||Witse Meeussen (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:03:31|
|17||Lennert Belmans (Bel) IKO - Crelan||0:03:33|
|18||Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:41|
|19||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:03:52|
|20||Thibau Nys (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:04:28|
|21||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:40|
|22||Gerben Kuypers (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:04:46|
|23||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:04:51|
|24||Jarno Bellens (Bel)||0:04:59|
|25||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:05:11|
|26||Toby Barnes (GBr) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen||0:05:29|
|27||Sander De Vet (Bel)||0:05:35|
|28||David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:05:43|
|29||Jente Michels (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix||0:05:50|
|30||Tibor Del Grosso (Ned)||0:06:10|
|31||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:06:16|
|32||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:06:20|
|33||Antoine Huby (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:06:29|
|34||Seppe Rombouts (Bel)|
|35||Danny Van Lierop (Ned)|
|36||Pascal Tömke (Ger) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen||0:06:41|
|37||Joost Brinkman (Ned)||0:06:42|
|38||Arne Vrachten (Bel)||0:06:49|
|39||David Menut (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:07:00|
|40||Ward Huybs (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions||0:07:16|
|41||Arne Baers (Bel)|
|42||Ugo Ananie (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|43||Victor Van De Putte (Bel)|
|44||Floris Van Tricht (Bel)|
|45||Jens Clynhens (Bel)|
|46||Lukas Vanderlinden (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal|
|47||Clement Horny (Bel)|
|48||Nick Peers (Bel)|
|49||Lucas Janssen (Ned)|
|50||Koen Van Dijke (Ned)|
|51||Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT|
|52||Florian Hamm (Ger) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|53||Lukas Herrmann (Ger) Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen|
|54||Senne D´Hollander (Bel)|
|55||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|56||Rémi Lelandais (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|57||Alex Colman (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|58||Senna Van Cutsem (Bel)|
|59||Mathis Avondts (Bel) IKO - Crelan|
|60||Salvador Alvarado (Ned)|
|61||Robbe Mellaerts (Bel)|
|62||Jannik Harig (Ger)|
|63||Pieter Pauwels (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal|
|64||Rune Ceusters (Bel)|
|65||Maarten Clauwaert (Bel)|
|66||Cameron Jette (Can)|
|67||Gianni Quintelier (Bel)|
|68||Andy Ruts (Bel)|
|69||Gauthier Heymes (Fra)|
|DNF||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix|
|DNF||Tom Meeusen (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes|
|DNF||Théo Thomas (Fra) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team|
|DNF||Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|DNF||Diether Sweeck (Bel) IKO - Crelan|
|DNF||Len Dejonghe (Bel) CX Team Deschacht-group Hens-containers Maes|
|DNF||Mathijs Wuyts (Bel)|
|DNF||Mathis De Roeck (Bel)|
|DNF||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)|
|DNS||Hugo Kars (Ned)|
|DNS||Luca Harter (Ger)|
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