Elite men: Merksplas - Merksplas
Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) claimed an emphatic victory in a greasy, treacherous Telenet Superprestige round in Merksplas. The Belgian, superior in the tricky, technical section of the course, went clear on the second to last lap and held onto the lead through to the finish.
"It's my first victory in such a series so I'm very happy," Vanthourenhout said. "I think in the woods it was good for me. I like the turns and the sand for me it was a good one."
In a tactical battle for the Superprestige classification, leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) overcame some early mistakes to claim second and inch out his lead over Toon Aerts thanks to teammate Laurens Sweeck out-sprinting Aerts for third to complete the podium sweep for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.
"I'm very happy with second place, especially with the win for Michael and third for Laurens," Iserbyt said. "The whole podium for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal - it's very impressive. It was a very hard race, they did a great job in front in the first half hour."
The race started in the rain and Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert) took the lead out of the gates but slipped out on a greasy section in the woods, allowing Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise) to open up a gap. The Dutchman pushed on giving a tactical advantage to teammate Toon Aerts, second in the series to Eli Iserbyt.
With Iserbyt's teammate Laurens Sweeck forced to chase, Aerts settled on the Belgian champion's wheel as he worked to reel in Van der Haar. The catch came midway through the nine lap race and, with Iserbyt then also coming back from his crash. Sweeck eased up on the pace, allowing his Vanthourenhout to rejoin and then Iserbyt made it three for Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.
Aerts put in a surge in the sand on lap seven, drawing out Iserbyt. The pair led into the penultimate lap with Vanthourenhout and Van der Haar chasing, then Sweeck and Corne van Kessel (Circus-Wanty Gobert) just behind in a tense, tactical race in the mud.
The six leaders came together mid-lap with Vanthourenhout opening up a gap in the technical section through the woods and Aerts forced to chase ahead of Isberbyt on the long, flat straightaways.
Vanthourenhout then showed his prowess in the mud again on the final lap, sailing clear en route to victory with the two general classification rivals evenly matched behind.
Iserbyt got away from Aerts in the final lap and an exhausted Aerts couldn't hold off the charge from Sweeck, with team tactics once again costing him his position in the rankings.
"We have three very good players in the team and in the end we could go full gas and it was enough to get three podium spots," Iserbyt said.
"We don't need words to know what we mean [to do tactically]," Iserbyt added. "When Michael went full gas before the forest, it was only Toon and Lars wasn't there anymore. I think they did a little too much work early in the race."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:59:33|
|2||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:08|
|3||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:13|
|4||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|5||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:00:22|
|6||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:00:27|
|7||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport||0:00:36|
|8||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:00:43|
|9||Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:00:50|
|10||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads||0:01:15|
|11||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:27|
|12||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:01:46|
|13||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:01:54|
|14||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:06|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:12|
|16||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:02:17|
|17||Timo Kielich (Bel) Credishop-Fristads|
|18||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal|
|19||David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||0:02:33|
|20||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:38|
|21||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:02:44|
|22||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:45|
|23||Joran Wyseure (Bel)||0:02:47|
|24||Steve Chainel (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:02:50|
|25||Loris Rouiller (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix||0:03:00|
|26||David Menut (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:03:22|
|27||Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:30|
|28||Thibau Nys (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:03:36|
|29||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) Nesta-Skoda Alecar CX Team||0:03:37|
|30||Curtis White (USA)||0:03:57|
|31||Théo Thomas (Fra) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:58|
|32||Arne Vrachten (Bel)||0:04:11|
|33||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Credishop-Fristads||0:04:29|
|34||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:33|
|35||Julian Siemons (Bel)||0:04:41|
|36||Joshua Dubau (Fra)||0:04:51|
|37||Florian Richard Andrade (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:05:06|
|38||Rémi Lelandais (Fra) Cross Team Legendre||0:05:10|
|39||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel)||0:05:24|
|40||Yan Gras (Fra) AAA Sörius||0:05:26|
|41||Lander Loockx (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:05:30|
|42||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)||0:05:34|
|43||Maik Van Der Heijden (Ned)||0:05:41|
|44||Thomas Verheyen (Bel)||0:05:45|
|45||Gianni Siebens (Bel)||0:05:47|
|46||Arne Baers (Bel)|
|47||Ben Turner (GBr) Trinity Racing|
|48||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|49||Joachim van Looveren (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|50||Ward Huybs (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|51||Stan Godrie (Ned)|
|52||Gerben Kuypers (Bel)|
|53||Jelle Vermoote (Bel)|
|54||Arno Van Den Broeck (Bel)|
|55||Jetze van Campenhout (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers|
|56||Luke Verburg (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal|
|57||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|58||Lilian Schneider (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|59||Kyle Agterberg (Ned)|
|60||Antoine Huby (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|61||Niels Koyen (Bel)|
|62||Elio Clarysse (Bel)|
|DNF||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers|
|DNF||Jelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal|
|DNF||Cameron Mason (GBr) Trinity Racing|
|DNF||Andreas Goeman (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|DNF||Len Dejonghe (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers|
|DNF||Ugo Ananie (Fra) Cross Team Legendre|
|DNF||Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|DNF||Ydris Salomez (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
Today's best Black Friday deals
Today's cycling-related highlights from the Black Friday sales. For even more, view our guide to the best Black Friday bike deals where you'll find on all things cycling, including bikes, helmets, clothing and more.
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