Elite Men: Antwerp
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) made a victorious return to cyclo-cross on Saturday, winning the Scheldecross after an absorbing battle with Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal).
The world champion was making his latest start to a ‘cross season but still managed to raise his arms at the first time of asking, as he has done in six of the seven campaigns he has ridden as an elite.
Van der Poel stormed away from the field early in the third round of the X²O Badkamers Trofee series, but the victory was far from a straightforward, runaway affair. A crash in the sand on the third of the eight laps of the Antwerp circuit scuppered his progress, and a mistake at the same point of the following lap allowed Iserbyt back to the front.
The pair then went at it hammer and tongs, Van der Poel opening a gap on numerous occasions, only for the European champion to keep clawing his way back. The decisive move was made towards the end of the penultimate lap, as Van der Poel moved clear through that troublesome sand section, before powering up a steep banking where Iserbyt had too dismount.
Van der Poel had four seconds in hand at the bell and made no mistake on the final lap, sitting up and celebrating six seconds ahead of Iserbyt.
Tom Pidcock (Trinity Racing) claimed the final podium spot after two lower placings in his first appearances of the season. The 21-year-old Brit was dangling off the back of the chase group at the halfway mark but made his way past the looks of Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions), Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions), Quentin Hermans (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team), Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), to finish clear as best of the rest.
In the overall standings, Iserbyt retains his series lead, which is based on accumulated time rather than points.
How it unfolded
Van der Haar made the early running on the opening lap but Van de Pool didn’t waste any time in hitting the front along with Iserbyt. He used his power to move clear on lap 2 and it looked like we were in for another exhibition. However, a crash in the long, sand section on lap 3 slashed his lead and knocked his confidence. He was still out front but when he went shakily through the same section on lap 4, Iserbyt, who’d been in a chasing tussle with Quentin Hermans, made his way back.
Iserbyt then took the lead as Van der Poel went to the pits and the pair were joined by some of the chasers on lap 5. Hermans, Sweeck, and Vanthourenhout made it a five-man lead group but not for long, as Iserbyt glided through the sand and Van der Poel, having made a slight mistake on the approach, stormed after him.
The pair finished lap 5 with a lead of six seconds over Hermans and Vanthourenhout, with Sweeck, Aerts, and Van der Haar a little further back, and Pidcock still in eighth place at this stage.
A small mistake on lap 6 saw Iserbyt put his foot down on a hairpin bend, but he managed to claw his way back to Van der Poel once more early on the penultimate lap. However, Van der Poel made his power count on the steep bankings and opened a convincing gap as he approached the bell lap.
Pidcock judged his effort well and continued to move through and clear of the chasers, as Van der Poel rode the final lap alone out front. Iserbyt looked spent and needed a mistake from the world champion, but it was not forthcoming.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin Fenix||0:58:10|
|2||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:06|
|3||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:00:27|
|4||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:00:30|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:00:43|
|6||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:51|
|7||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:00|
|8||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:01:09|
|9||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:22|
|10||Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:01:26|
|11||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb||0:01:45|
|12||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:01:52|
|13||Jelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:02:05|
|14||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:11|
|15||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:15|
|16||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop Fristads||0:02:19|
|17||Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:02:25|
|18||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:02:27|
|19||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:02:30|
|20||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:02:34|
|21||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:02:47|
|22||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads||0:03:07|
|23||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:21|
|24||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Credishop-Fristads||0:03:37|
|25||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:04:11|
|26||David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||0:04:16|
|27||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:04:19|
|28||Tim van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo Visma Development||0:04:51|
|29||Gianni Siebens (Bel) Urbano Cycling Team||0:05:08|
|30||Ward Huybs (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:05:13|
|31||Timo Kielich (Bel) Credishop-Fristads||0:05:19|
|32||Julian Siemons (Bel) AA Drink Young Lions||0:05:21|
|33||Curtis White (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:05:25|
|34||Wout Vervoort (Bel) Iko-crelan|
|35||Arne Baers (Bel) Bert Containers - Pauwels Sauzen||0:05:33|
|36||Loris Rouiller (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix||0:05:48|
|37||Hugo Jot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team||0:05:58|
|38||Stan Godrie (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg - Destil||0:06:05|
|39||Robin Alderweireld (Bel) Team Atom 6||0:06:14|
|40||Arne Vrachten (Bel) Acrog - Tormans Balen BC||0:06:20|
|41||Len Dejonghe (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||-1 lap|
|42||Seppe Rombouts (Bel) Acrog - Tormans Balen Bc|
|43||Bart Artz (Ned)|
|44||Klaas Groenen (Ned)|
|45||Joachim van Looveren (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|46||Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|47||Koen van Dijke (Ned)|
|48||Arthur Tropardy (Fra)|
|49||Ronan Auffret (Fra) Team Podiocom CC||-2 laps|
|50||Noah Vreeswijk (Ned)|
|51||Ydris Salomez (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|52||Lucas Brondani (Fra) AS Bike Crossteam||- 3 laps|
|53||Gabriel Timothé (Fra)||- 4 laps|
|54||Vincent Oger (Bel) Entente Cycliste de Wallonie||- 5 laps|
|DNF||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|DNF||Maik van der Heijden (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg - Destil|
|DNF||Theo Thomas (Fra) Tormans Cyclo-cross Team|
|DNF||Thibau Nys (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|DNS||Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
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