Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team) made a smashing, winning debut in the elite men's category of the World Cup by soloing for more than half the race in the sand of Koksijde, Belgium on Saturday afternoon.
During the second round of the UCI World Cup the young Belgian rider, 20, held off Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon) by 41 seconds and fellow youngster Mathieu van der Poel (Giant-Shimano), who was almost caught by a strong group of chasers who crossed the line three seconds later. Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) rode an anonymous race through the Belgian dunes, finishing 15th.
Just before crossing the line, Van Aert hopped off and back onto his bike, copying the finish move from Paul Herygers and Niels Albert at the 1994 and 2012 World Championships in Koksijde. Van Aert also won the Koppenbergcross earlier this season. “I rate this one a little higher, especially because of the way I did it. I got away quickly and during the last lap I was able to enjoy it,” Van Aert said.
Pauwels is now leading the World Cup standings with 140 points, 25 points ahead of Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon). Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) was leading the standings after his win in the opening round in Valkenburg in October, however, he was feverish and did not race in Koksijde, dropping to eighth overall.
“The World Cup jersey was the most important goal today. It’s also good Mathieu finished in between me and the rest,” Pauwels said. “The overall win is my ambition now.”
Younger cyclo-crossers come to the forefront in Koksijde
The spectacular victory from Van Aert concluded a race which was dominated by the young wolves of cyclo-cross. During the first three laps several under-23 riders were riding in front of the field and a little later the two spearheads of the new generation took off. Behind Van Aert and van der Poel, the usual suspects needed time to get through traffic and reach the front of the main group, or like Pauwels, who just missed the moment.
“I didn’t know there were two guys in front. Van Aert had 35 seconds by the time I found out. There were so many riders in the group I was in,” Pauwels said.
Meanwhile the young duo shared the work in front. They soon realized each other’s strong and weak points. “I felt stronger on the rolling sections so I set a hard pace on those, that’s how I got the gap,” Van Aert said.
Van der Poel lost nine seconds but stood tall. “I tried to hang on, realizing Wout had to set out the track in the sand. I tried to go through those sand sections as good as possible. Once I made two mistakes in those I quickly lost 25 seconds,” van der Poel said.
Suddenly Pauwels fired up his engine and sped away from the main group. “I felt good and had something left in my tank,” Pauwels said.
Pauwels quickly got Van der Poel in sight and was caught by surprise again as he explained that he wasn’t aware van der Poel rode in between him and leader Van Aert. The timid Belgian rider then clocked the fastest lap of the race but soon realized the win was gone as the gap was already up to forty seconds. “I didn’t get any closer on him. He probably was much stronger than me today,” Pauwels said.
While Van Aert cruised to the victory with Pauwels taking second place, van der Poel narrowly held off the group behind him. Meeusen won the sprint for fourth place ahead of Vantornout and youngster Jens Adams. With Rob Peeters in ninth place the Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace managed to place three of its riders in the top 10. Veteran Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) managed to close down the top 10.
Belgian champion Sven Nys seemed to lose focus during the second half of the race, making minor mistakes and then slipping away from eighth to 15th at the finish line. “I was pretty bad today. [...] I didn’t have power in my legs. I don’t feel ill but I’m on antibiotics, which you’re paying cash at this level,” Nys said.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Ct||1:02:34|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:41|
|3||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:00:53|
|4||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:00:55|
|5||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:57|
|6||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Ct||0:00:58|
|7||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:05|
|8||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:01:08|
|9||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Ct||0:01:11|
|10||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:15|
|11||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Corendon - Kwadro||0:01:24|
|12||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - Kwadro||0:01:37|
|13||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:58|
|14||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:02:08|
|15||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink||0:02:09|
|16||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|17||Jeremy Powers (USA) Rapha-Focus||0:02:22|
|18||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:46|
|19||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - Kwadro||0:02:49|
|20||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:50|
|21||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:12|
|22||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:03:52|
|23||Jakub Skala (Cze)||0:03:55|
|24||Ian Field (GBr)||0:03:56|
|25||Michael Boros (Cze)|
|26||Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic - Doltcini||0:04:15|
|27||Francis Mourey (Fra) Fdj.Fr||0:04:19|
|28||Fabien Canal (Fra) Look - Beaumes De Venise||0:04:20|
|29||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)||0:04:21|
|30||Twan (Deleted) Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels||0:04:31|
|31||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - Kwadro||0:04:37|
|32||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - Kwadro|
|33||Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:05:06|
|34||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team||0:05:07|
|35||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Corendon - Kwadro||0:05:31|
|36||Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned)||0:06:00|
|37||Simon Zahner (Swi)||0:06:07|
|38||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:06:30|
|39||Arnaud Grand (Swi)||-2Laps|
|40||Josep Betalu (Spa)|
|41||Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)|
|42||Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Veranclassic - Doltcini|
|43||Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Remerx-Merida Team Kolin|
|44||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) Bkcp - Powerplus|
|45||Severin Saegesser (Swi)|
|46||Kenneth Hansen (Den)|
|47||Felix Drumm (Ger)||-3Laps|
|48||Lukas Winterberg (Swi)|
|49||Clément Lhotellerie (Fra)|
|50||Cameron Jette (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing|
|51||Ole Quast (Ger)||-4Laps|
|52||Vaclav Metlicka (Svk)|
|53||Aaron Schooler (Can)|
|54||Jeremy Durrin (USA) Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies||-5Laps|
|55||Gusty Bausch (Lux)|
|56||Angus Edmond (NZl)|
|57||Mark Mcconnell (Can)||-6Laps|
|DNF||Enroci Franzoi (Ita) Marchiol Emisfero|
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