A dominant display from Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) saw him win the European Cyclo-Cross Championships. The Dutchman came home 22 seconds ahead of compatriot Lars van der Haar, while last year's champion Toon Aerts (Belgium) completed the podium, a distant 1:27 back.
Van der Poel had previously won the race twice at junior level, but Sunday marked his first senior victory, as he claimed one of the few races he had yet to win. It was his third win in Tábor, however, coming after his victory at the 2015 Worlds and a round of the 2011 World Cup as a junior.
"It was a hard course –the second part in particular was difficult with the wind – but I knew I had an advantage with the barriers here," Van der Poel said before mounting the podium. "It's almost a perfect season until now, and I was very focused on getting my first European jersey in the elite category. I'm very happy to make it happen."
As in the women's race, the Dutch team sought to stamp their authority from the beginning. Van der Poel and Van der Haar led off the line, wasting no time in creating a gap to the field, with only Aerts able to stay with them.
At the end of lap one, the trio enjoyed an 11-second lead, but any hope of a challenge to Van der Poel ended on the second lap. Aerts was the first to be dropped, unable to cope with the Dutch pace, while Van der Haar managed to hang on until the barriers. Once there, Van der Poel stayed on his bike to hurdle the obstacles, while everybody else dismounted. It was a striking a sign of his superiority.
As Aerts dropped back into the clutches of the peloton on lap three, it was clear that the only competition remaining would be for the bronze medal. At the race's midway point, Van der Haar was the only man within a minute of his teammate, at 14 seconds back.
Of course, the Belgians were without Wout Van Aert, perhaps the only man capable of realistically challenging Van der Poel this season. Van Aert inflicted a rare defeat on his rival at the Superprestige Niels Albert in late-October (Van der Poel had crashed), but opted against racing the European Championships in favour of a Tuscan training retreat.
A crash in the peloton involving Belgians Tim Merlier and Daan Soete provided some late-race drama, but didn't much disrupt the ten-strong group. The decisive bronze medal move came on the final lap of the race, as Belgians Aerts and Michael Vanthorenhout launched a mid-lap attack.
Aerts pulled level with his teammate coming around the outside of the final corner, launching past on the straight and salvaging a bronze for Belgium on a day when Van der Poel reigned supreme.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)||0:57:37|
|2||Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)||0:00:23|
|3||Toon Aerts (Belgium)||0:01:26|
|4||Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium)||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||David van der Poel (Netherlands)||0:01:29|
|6||Jens Adams (Belgium)||0:01:31|
|7||Michael Boroš (Czech Republic)||0:01:32|
|8||Laurens Sweeck (Belgium)||0:01:34|
|9||Corne van Kessel (Netherlands)||0:01:36|
|10||Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Quinten Hermans (Belgium)||0:01:37|
|12||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)||0:01:43|
|13||Tim Merlier (Belgium)||0:02:03|
|14||Daan Soete (Belgium)||0:02:17|
|15||Matthieu Boulo (France)||0:02:58|
|16||Twan Van Den Brand (Netherlands)||0:03:00|
|17||Simon Zahner (Switzerland)||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)||0:03:02|
|19||Steve Chainel (France)||0:03:05|
|20||Severin Sägesser (Switzerland)||0:03:13|
|21||Tomáš Paprstka (Czech Republic)||0:03:19|
|22||Martin Haring (Slovakia)||0:03:39|
|23||Michael Wildhaber (Switzerland)||0:03:42|
|24||Philipp Walsleben (Germany)||0:03:49|
|25||Marek Konwa (Poland)||0:03:54|
|26||Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium)||0:04:00|
|27||Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland)||0:04:18|
|28||Fabien Canal (France)||0:04:25|
|29||Lubomír Petruš (Czech Republic)||0:04:28|
|30||Stan Godrie (Netherlands)||0:04:31|
|31||Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)||0:04:32|
|32||Manuel Müller (Germany)||0:04:53|
|33||Henrik Jansson (Sweden)||0:05:06|
|34||Jan Škarnitzl (Czech Republic)||0:05:18|
|35||Martin Bína (Czech Republic)||0:05:33|
|36||Emil Hekele (Czech Republic)||0:06:25|
|37||Michal Malík (Czech Republic)||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Simon Vozar (Slovakia)||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||David Eriksson (Sweden)||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Martin Eriksson (Sweden)||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Zsolt Búr (Hungary)||Row 40 - Cell 2|
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