Mathieu van der Poel wins Heusden-Zolder World Cup

Mathieu van der Poel (Coredon-Circus) won the seventh round of the World Cup in Heusden-Zolder at the Terlaemen car racing circuit on Thursday. The world champion beat Laurens Sweeck (Pawels) and Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Baloise) by six seconds.

Van der Poel had to work hard for his fourth successive World Cup victory. "Zolder is one of the hardest courses to ride alone up front because you're never out of sight," Van der Poel told Sporza.

Fresh World Cup leader Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) feared that the two broken ribs and two fractured ribs which he sustained in a crash at the previous World Cup round in Namur on Sunday would keep him from defending his leader’s jersey. 

In the end, Aerts did a great job as he captured a fourteenth place, right behind his major contender Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal). 

"Eli's teammates were playing team tactics. In the end I’m happy with the result," Aerts told Sporza.

Van der Poel's fourth-ever win in Zolder ended up being a hard-fought one. "It's especially hard here when there's a group behind where there's co-operation. You're dying on the long straight sections where they can keep the gap at bay and on the technical sections you’re completely dead,” Van der Poel told Sporza

He was asked how he felt about the comeback from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in Loenhout's Azencross on Friday. "It's good for the sport. It's positive that he's back. I expect him in the top-5 straight away," Van der Poel said.

During the first half of the race, Van der Poel seemed to keep quiet in the large front group although - as he explained - that was harder than one would expect. Belgian road champion Tim Merlier (Creafin-Fristads) managed the hole shot ahead of Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) but further back Toon Aerts had a disastrous start. 

The rider in front of him - former cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick Step) missed his pedal and slipped away, which forced Aerts to crash on his plagued ribs. Out of dead-last position Aerts had to fight back. 

"There was little respect in the start. Riders were riding into me. Stybar made a small mistake but he soon realized that and made up for it by doing some work on the long straight sections," Aerts said. 

Meanwhile, a dozen of riders were leading the race with a very active Quinten Hermans (Telenet Baloise Lions) trying to cause damage. "Before the race I had doubts because I didn't feel great the last few days. During the race I felt great but I did too much work early on; I just don't like the pushing in a group," Hermans told Sporza

Nearly halfway through the race, when hitting the fourth lap, a crash took out 2012 and 2013 Heusden-Zolder winner Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions) and Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) from the lead group. That seemed to be the sign for Van der Poel to kick on his engine. 

"I wanted to wait a little bit longer but further back in the group it's hard too. Twice I had to dig deep to come back on the long straight sections and I wanted to avoid that," Van der Poel said. 

Just when Van der Poel accelerated Corné van Kessel (Telenet Baloise Lions) punctured and was unable to hold his wheel. In no time, Van der Poel collected a bonus of 13 seconds. A bit of rain started to come down on the riders and during the following lap a crash from Merlier split the chase group in two halves, with Sweeck. Hermans, Vanthourenhout and Gianni Vermeersch (Creafin-Fristads) featuring in the first half. 

Van der Poel’s bonus over the first chasers grew up to 22 seconds but mainly thanks to the efforts from Laurens Sweeck the leader had to dig deep. "I was too far back in the group to react. It's a pity because I felt good. I tried to engage everybody in the group to work but the gap was too big to overcome," Sweeck told Sporza

In the sprint, Sweeck easily held off Hermans and teammate Michael Vanthourenhout. "I felt like I had a good rhythm. It wasn’t enough for the win but I’m pleased with second place,” Laurens Sweeck told Sporza.

It’s the third time for Sweeck to finish as runner-up in Heusden-Zolder. For Hermans, it was his first World Cup podium result of the season. With Aerts and Iserbyt struggling to recover from their efforts in Namur, Vanthourenhout did a good job with his fourth place. He moves from third to second place in the World Cup standings, at 45 points from leader Toon Aerts.

Zdenek Stybar mostly rode with Toon Aerts but then punctured out of the top-20. Also Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-Merida) tested his ‘cross legs in Belgium, finishing 51st.

Next month, Mathieu van der Poel will not be at the start of the penultimate World Cup round in Nommay, France. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) 1:02:22
2Laurens Sweeck (Bel) 0:00:06
3Quinten Hermans (Bel)
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) 0:00:09
5Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) 0:00:20
6Corne Van Kessel (Ned) 0:00:21
7Tim Merlier (Bel)
8Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)
9Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) 0:00:37
10Thijs Aerts (Bel) 0:00:59
11Tom Meeusen (Bel) 0:01:01
12David Van Der Poel (Ned) 0:01:02
13Eli Iserbyt (Bel) 0:01:03
14Toon Aerts (Bel) 0:01:04
15Jens Adams (Bel) 0:01:15
16Diether Sweeck (Bel) 0:01:34
17Jim Aernouts (Bel) 0:02:04
18Timon Rüegg (Swi) 0:02:08
19Vincent Baestaens (Bel) 0:02:19
20Marcel Meisen (Ger) 0:02:25
21Steve Chainel (Fra) 0:02:32
22Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) 0:02:36
23Stan Godrie (Ned) 0:02:38
24Sieben Wouters (Ned) 0:02:39
25Michael Boroš (Cze) 0:02:41
26Jan Nesvadba (Cze) 0:02:52
27Sascha Weber (Ger) 0:02:59
28David Menut (Fra) 0:03:00
29Joshua Dubau (Fra) 0:03:02
30Stephen Hyde (USA) 0:03:05
31Lander Loockx (Bel) 0:03:15
32Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) 0:03:21
33Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) 0:03:23
34Lucas Dubau (Fra) 0:03:24
35Ismael Esteban Aguero (Spa) 0:03:39
36Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa) 0:03:50
37Michael Van Den Ham (Can) 0:04:05
38Curtis White (USA) 0:04:16
39Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) 0:04:28
40Braam Merlier (Bel) 0:04:35
41Matthieu Boulo (Fra) 0:04:44
42Maik Van Der Heijden (Ned) 0:04:58
43Cristian Cominelli (Ita) 0:05:19
44Yan Gras (Fra) 0:05:38
45Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)
46Kerry Werner (USA) 0:06:23
47Tomáš Paprstka (Cze)
48Arthur Tropardy (Fra)
49Gilles Mottiez (Swi)
50Mario Junquera San Millan (Spa)
51Heinrich Haussler (Aus)
52Andrew Juiliano (USA)
53Ondrej Glajza (Svk)
54Max Judelson (USA)
55Frederik Hähnel (Ger)
56Daniel Ania Gonzalez (Spa)
57Jimmy Turgis (Fra)
58Andrew Giniat (USA)
59Cameron Jette (Can)
60Lex Reichling (Lux)
61Miguel Llaneza Arguelles (Spa)
62Thomas Edhofer (Ger)
DNFDaan Soete (Bel)
DNFSimon Zahner (Swi)
DNFLorenzo Samparisi (Ita)
DNSNicolas Cleppe (Bel)
DNSJonatan Östlund (Swe)

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