Cyclo-cross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won the fifth UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round of the season in Koksijde, Belgium.
The 24-year-old bounced back from a troubled start, spectacularly passing the whole field during the opening lap and before storming away to the seventh win of his season. At long-distance Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) was best of the rest as he held off Belgian champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) and three more Telenet Baloise Lions riders.
“I think it was definitely one of my best first laps ever. I got stuck behind a crash in the first corner and I wanted to take my time to get back to the front but I felt immediately that I had really good legs. Before I knew it, I was back in second position. I rode my own race. That’s always a good idea here in the sand. It’s the easiest way,” Van der Poel said in his post-race interview.
He’s now up to seven wins out of seven races this season after taking his 33rd consecutive cyclo-cross victory. He was asked when his run would end.
“I don’t know. Hopefully it’s going to last a few races. Of course, one day I’m going to lose one. You can’t win them all. I’m already very proud of what I achieved here today and also the past few weeks,” Van der Poel said.
Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) enjoyed a rough day in the Belgian sand and finished thirteenth. The 22-year-old lost a big chunk of his bonus but remains as the leader in the World Cup standings ahead of Aerts.
The early crash
Straight after the start a lot of riders were halted by a crash in the first corner that included Belgian road champion Tim Merlier (Creafin - Fristads). The crash also held back Mathieu van der Poel who’s still given a poor start position from the UCI after he didn’t take part in the first World Cup rounds in the USA. Only a handful of riders, including Merlier, were behind Van der Poel when he took off for what would become an incredible opening lap. Meanwhile, Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb) was leading the field just ahead of David Van der Poel, the older brother of Mathieu, who had a great start in the race.
As the first sand dunes were tackled Mathieu van der Poel was spotted overtaking one rider after the other.
“It was weird [...] There were a few sand sections where I ran very good, especially on that dune just before the second time over the long dune [Herijgers dune] I was able to pass a lot of riders. Then on the long dune Nieuwenhuis made a mistake and Sweeck rode away. I closed the gap to Sweeck at once and then found myself in front after the opening lap. That gave a kick,” Van der Poel told Sporza TV.
From there, Van der Poel didn’t hold back and Sweeck soon realised that he was racing for second place. He stated that finishing as runner-up behind Mathieu van der Poel nearly felt like a victory. “I didn’t have a super day but I didn’t expect him to be that much to the front after the opening lap. It was still a long race and the sand didn’t offer much benefits for the specialists, I thought. It was about running and a test of shape. I saw him coming and I immediately saw him going. I set my mind on second place,” Sweeck told Sporza TV.
Van der Poel dominance
Van der Poel was clearly enjoying his time in the sand, as if it was his playground. He impressed the spectators with his unique ability to combine power, speed, technical and running skills.
“Today was a really good race. It was close match to my best races from last year. I’ve enjoyed the full hour and I hope the crowd here and the spectators at home did the same. I really had a lot of fun. Koksijde is one of my favourite races and to ride like this is pure fun to me. If I’m the best ever? That’s not for me to decide. I just like doing this a lot,” Van der Poel told Sporza TV. Sweeck was accompanied by four Telenet Baloise Lions riders in the battle for second place and teammate Michael Vanthourenhout. At the backend of the penultimate lap only Aerts was able to mark the first acceleration from Sweeck.
A first passage of the long Herijgers dune, named after Paul Herijgers who won the world championships race in Koksijde back in 1994, was enough for Sweeck to distance Aerts as well. The latter was pleased with third place.
“It’s been a few difficult weeks for me, also because of mechanical problems. This is a great result for me. I did a good move in the overall standings and with four more World Cup rounds coming up it’s clear that one should never give up. Van der Poel? It’s clear that he was outstanding. I briefly thought he held back a bit so I tried to get back to him, hoping to profit from his wheel. That wasn’t the case,” Aerts told Sporza TV.
Lars van der Haar confirmed his third place from last week’s World Cup round in Tábor with a fourth place in Koksijde, finishing ahead of teammates Quinten Hermans and Corné van Kessel. German champion Marcel Meisen (Corendon-Circus) probably rode his best race of the season to capture seventh place ahead of Vanthourenhout. Hats off to Tim Merlier as well because despite his early crash he managed to bounce back - in less impressive style than his former teammate Mathieu van der Poel - to a strong ninth place ahead of British rider Thomas Pidcock (Trinity Racing)
A few seconds later, Tom Meeusen and David van der Poel were spotted sprinting flat out for eleventh place, successfully holding off World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt. The latter lost 27 points of his 45-points bonus in the World Cup standings over Aerts in Koksijde and next month he will have to defend his lead on a course that suits him better: the slopes of the citadel in Namur, Belgium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned)||0:59:58|
|2||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:00:25|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel)||0:00:35|
|4||Lars Van der Haar (Ned)||0:00:40|
|5||Quinten Hermans (Bel)||0:00:50|
|6||Corne Van Kessel (Ned)||0:01:02|
|7||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:01:05|
|8||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:01:19|
|9||Tim Merlier (Bel)||0:01:28|
|10||Thomas Pidcock (GBr)||0:01:33|
|11||Tom Meeusen (Bel)||0:01:47|
|12||David Van der Poel (Ned)||0:01:49|
|13||Eli Iserbyt (Bel)|
|14||Jim Aernouts (Bel)||0:01:55|
|15||Diether Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:00|
|16||Daan Soete (Bel)||0:02:06|
|17||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)||0:02:24|
|18||Thijs Aerts (Bel)||0:02:59|
|19||Vincent Baestaens (Bel)||0:03:31|
|20||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)||0:03:32|
|21||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned)||0:03:45|
|22||Jens Adams (Bel)||0:03:48|
|23||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel)||0:03:53|
|24||Timon Ruegg (Swi)||0:03:56|
|25||Sieben Wouters (Ned)|
|26||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa)||0:04:33|
|27||Braam Merlier (Bel)||0:04:48|
|28||Stan Godrie (Ned)||0:04:49|
|29||Michael Boros (Cze)|
|30||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spa)||0:04:50|
|31||Simon Zahner (Swi)||0:05:10|
|32||David Menut (Fra)||0:05:25|
|33||Maik Van der Heijden (Ned)||0:05:38|
|34||Joshua Dubau (Fra)||0:06:02|
|35||Jan Nesvadba (Cze)||0:06:25|
|36||Lander Loockx (Bel)||0:06:49|
|37||Lucas Dubau (Fra)||0:06:55|
|38||Severin Sagesser (Swi)|
|39||Aurelien Philibert (Fra)|
|40||Yan Gras (Fra)|
|41||Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)|
|42||Andrew Juiliano (USA)|
|43||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)|
|44||Gilles Mottiez (Swi)|
|45||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra)|
|46||Jimmy Turgis (Fra)|
|47||Max Judelson (USA)|
|48||Tyler Cloutier (USA)|
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