Van der Poel solos to Hoogerheide victory

In a race organized by cycling legend Adrie van der Poel, his son Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) who gave a a demonstration of near perfect cyclo-cross racing and emphatically showed he is the favourite for next weekend's World Cyclo- Cross Championships in Tabor, in the Czech Republic.

The 20 year-old Dutch national champion rode away from the rest of the field during the opening lap and completed a race-long solo ride on the technical course. Van der Poel had time to grab a Netherlands flag and wave it in the air as he crossed the line.

“It was really nice. The crowds were just screaming all the time. It was very hard but it was so much fun, especially because it was my dad’s race,” Van der Poel said after the race.

“After a hard week of training it could go either way. I didn’t have the intention to ride alone all race long but then I figured that with a couple of fast laps I could be safe.”

Fellow youngster Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) accelerated late in the race from a large chase group and captured second place more than a minute behind Van der Poel.

Gianni Vermeersch (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) took third as he battled for a spot in the Belgian selection for next week’s World Championships in Tabor. It was his first ever World Cup podium and most probably earned him selection for Tabor.

Vermeersch's teammate Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) finished in the same time, celebrating his fourth place because it sealed his second overall victory in the World Cup series. Pauwels’ closest rival for the World Cup was Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) but he finished fifth in Hoogerheide and so could only consolidated his second place in the World Cup standings. Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) narrowly held on to his third place overall ahead of Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) despite a distant 27th place in Hoogerheide.

Further back US-champion Jeremy Powers finished thirteenth at 3:34, which was just enough to claim an impressive ninth place in the final World Cup standings.

Fast start

After a fast sprint away from the start line, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) grabbed the hole shot in the sand and mud after a tough week in which he was kept out and later put back in the Belgian selection for the World Championships as a consequence of his involvement in an investigation into possible illegal ozone treatment.

When Meeusen faded Van der Poel decisively took command. Behind him Pauwels suddenly slipped away, standing sideways and blocking the way for the other riders. Van der Poel realized there was an opportunity to do something although he knew it was very early in the race.

“It was way too early but then I had 15 seconds I think. I saw the lap times and thought that I could make it. When they told me that I had 30 seconds I knew I could make it but it was really hard. My chain dropped at one point but it was my own fault. There was one lap where I fell three times. After that I was happy I re-found my good legs.”

Behind nobody was willing or able to close the gap on van der Poel. Halfway through the second lap Vermeersch surged forward, mainly trying to win the battle for the Belgian selection from teammate Tim Merlier, Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea).

It took five laps before Vermeersch was pulled back by Van Aert and Pauwels. Further back Lars van der Haar distanced Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) and Francis Mourey (FDJ) in the battle for fifth place.

Van Aert easily gapped the Sunweb-duo towards second place late on but all of these battles occurred well behind race leader Van der Poel.

The Dutchman's victory confirmed he is one of the favourites for the World championships. He has opted to ride the elite race despite being eligible for the under 23 race.

“I hope so. I had a really good day today. Hopefully not a week too early. If I have these legs in the World Championships I’m one of the favourites I think.”

Full Results


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