European Cyclo-cross Championships: Van der Poel claims elite men's title

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.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)0:57:37
2Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)0:00:23
3Toon Aerts (Belgium)0:01:26
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium)Row 3 - Cell 2
5David van der Poel (Netherlands)0:01:29
6Jens Adams (Belgium)0:01:31
7Michael Boroš (Czech Republic)0:01:32
8Laurens Sweeck (Belgium)0:01:34
9Corne van Kessel (Netherlands)0:01:36
10Kevin Pauwels (Belgium)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Quinten Hermans (Belgium)0:01:37
12Gioele Bertolini (Italy)0:01:43
13Tim Merlier (Belgium)0:02:03
14Daan Soete (Belgium)0:02:17
15Matthieu Boulo (France)0:02:58
16Twan Van Den Brand (Netherlands)0:03:00
17Simon Zahner (Switzerland)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)0:03:02
19Steve Chainel (France)0:03:05
20Severin Sägesser (Switzerland)0:03:13
21Tomáš Paprstka (Czech Republic)0:03:19
22Martin Haring (Slovakia)0:03:39
23Michael Wildhaber (Switzerland)0:03:42
24Philipp Walsleben (Germany)0:03:49
25Marek Konwa (Poland)0:03:54
26Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium)0:04:00
27Marcel Wildhaber (Switzerland)0:04:18
28Fabien Canal (France)0:04:25
29Lubomír Petruš (Czech Republic)0:04:28
30Stan Godrie (Netherlands)0:04:31
31Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)0:04:32
32Manuel Müller (Germany)0:04:53
33Henrik Jansson (Sweden)0:05:06
34Jan Škarnitzl (Czech Republic)0:05:18
35Martin Bína (Czech Republic)0:05:33
36Emil Hekele (Czech Republic)0:06:25
37Michal Malík (Czech Republic)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Simon Vozar (Slovakia)Row 37 - Cell 2
39David Eriksson (Sweden)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Martin Eriksson (Sweden)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Zsolt Búr (Hungary)Row 40 - Cell 2

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