Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) returned to domination in his first cyclo-cross race of the 2019-2020 season.
The world champion took half the race to find his way to the front, but when he did he proved unassailable.
Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen–Bingoal) took the lead on the opening lap, trading blows with Van der Poel in the slippery, muddy conditions.
Tom Pidcock fought his way through the field after a slow start and briefly made the front of the race before slipping away in a turn.
In a brief lull in the race, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen–Bingoal) put in a blistering attack that put Iserbyt out of the leading group.
Van der Poel came back to the Belgian and, though Sweeck would hold on for a lap he eventually had to let go of the Dutchman's wheel.
The world champion sailed away, eventually gaining over 20 seconds on Sweeck to take the win. Belgian champion Toon Aerts taking third at 36 seconds.
"It was difficult and very technical," Van der Poel said according to Het Nieuwsblad. "I was constantly looking for the 'cross sensation and I didn't really find it. I didn't have the impression that it was fast."
"So I rode my own pace, sometimes even leaving a gap. It was good enough but there is still work to do. This result is the confirmation that I have trained well. From now on it can only get better. Of course I was fine. If you are not good, you will not win a 'cross race. And yes, I really enjoyed it. "
Although the much anticipated duel with Iserbyt never really materialised, Van der Poel recognized that the other riders endured a very difficult race in Oudenaarde on Friday.
"They rode the Koppenberg on Friday, that may have been in their legs. It does not alter the fact that [Iserbyt] has performed strongly in recent weeks."
Sweeck defended his teammate, too. "Eli is not a machine. He had a bad day, just like I had a bad day on Friday. I tried to make it difficult for Mathieu, but at a certain point he was able to change gears and I couldn't. I kept the gap fairly small but it is technically so good. The difference? Mathieu wins his 28th race in the Superprestige, and I do not have one yet. We start with the thought of winning and that will not be any different in the coming races. But the reality is there is only so much you can do and you have to dare to face that."
Sweeck now shares the lead in the Superprestige series with Toon Aerts, third in Ruddervoorde. "It was a difficult 'cross with many riders who stayed close to each other. There was not enough punch to ride away, but on such a technical course one good lap is enough to close a gap. Mathieu and Laurens went above and beyond."
Aerts had a rought start to the race but rode himself into it to take a satisfying podium spot. "It was not the easiest week for me, but I can enjoy this third place, more than a second place in recent weeks."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon - Circus||1:03:56|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:00:23|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:00:36|
|4||Tim Merlier (Bel) Creafin – Fristads||0:00:44|
|5||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:01:38|
|6||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:01:49|
|7||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:06|
|8||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Corendon - Circus||0:02:26|
|9||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:32|
|10||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:02:51|
|11||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:03:01|
|12||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Creafin – Fristads||0:03:25|
|13||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - Circus||0:03:32|
|14||Antoine Benoist (Fra) Corendon - Circus||0:03:54|
|15||Daan Soete (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:04:14|
|16||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|17||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)||0:05:10|
|18||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:05:19|
|19||Ben Turner (GBr) Creafin – Fristads||0:05:35|
|20||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:05:45|
|21||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:05:55|
|22||Michael Boroš (Cze)||0:05:57|
|23||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tarteletto - Isorex||0:06:09|
|24||Jarno Bellens (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal||0:06:18|
|25||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:06:26|
|26||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)||0:07:12|
|27||Cameron Mason (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:07:48|
|28||Gerben Kuypers (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex|
|29||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|30||Jelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|31||Joran Wyseure (Bel)|
|32||Andreas Goeman (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|33||Arno Debeir (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|34||Arne Vrachten (Bel)|
|35||Bart Artz (Ned)|
|36||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon - Circus|
|37||Kyle Agterberg (Ned)|
|38||Victor Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|39||Pim Ronhaar (Ned)|
|40||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel)|
|41||Arno Van Den Broeck (Bel)|
|42||Kenny Roelandt (Bel)|
|43||Mathieu Willemyns (Bel)|
|44||Dario Tielen (Bel)|
|45||Yelle Leaerts (Bel)|
|46||Klaas Groenen (Ned)|
|47||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)|
|48||Thymen Arensman (Ned)|
|49||Andrew Juiliano (USA)|
|50||Jenko Bonne (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex|
|51||Pete Uptegrove (Ned)|
|52||Cedric Vandesompel (Bel)|
|53||Noah Vreeswijk (Ned)|
|54||Maarten Clauwaert (Bel)|
|55||Joe Williams (GBr)|
|56||Edwin De Wit (Bel)|
|57||Kelvin Bakx (Ned)|
|58||Jonatan Östlund (Swe)|
|59||Alekss Krasts (Lat)|
|60||Gianni Quintelier (Bel)|
|61||Tyler Cloutier (USA)|
|62||James Swadling (GBr)|
|63||Max Judelson (USA)|
|64||Lukas Mörtsell Rörfors (Swe)|
|65||Ryan Middlemiss (GBr)|
|DNF||Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens - Maes Containers|
|DNF||Timo Kielich (Bel) Creafin – Fristads|
|DNF||Elias Nilsson (Swe)|
|DNF||Callum Macleod (GBr)|
|DNF||Tyla Loftus (GBr)|
|DNF||Pieter-Jan Vliegen (Bel)|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Points|
|1||Toon Aerts (Bel)||45|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||45|
|3||Quinten Hermans (Bel)||43|
|4||Corné van Kessel (Ned)||43|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned)||42|
|6||Eli Iserbyt (Bel)||41|
|7||Thomas Pidcock (GBr)||38|
|8||Jens Adams (Bel)||25|
|9||Tim Merlier (Bel)||23|
|10||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||21|
|11||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||17|
|12||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||16|
|13||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned)||15|
|14||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)||14|
|15||Daan Soete (Bel)||14|
|16||Marcel Meisen (GEr)||14|
|17||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||6|
|18||Thijs Aerts (Bel)||4|
|19||Yentl Bekaert (Bel)||4|
|20||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel)||4|
|21||Ben Turner (GBr)||2|
|22||Antoine Benoist (Fra)||2|
|23||Timo Kielich (Bel)||1|
|24||Yannick Peeters (Bel)||1|
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