GIETEN, The Netherlands – While US eyes may have been focused on the 2014 KMC Chain Providence Cyclocross Festival this weekend, cyclocross in Europe was also happening, with the start of the 2014/15 Superprestige series in Gieten.
The Superprestige series is the first of the three major series to start, beating the Bpost Trofee series and the World Cup on the calendar.
And while some live video viewers were lamenting the lack of drama watching the foregone conclusions of the 2014 US National Champions winning Saturday’s C1 in Providence, both the Women’s and Men’s races in Gieten provided suspense through the last lap in tightly battled finishes.
The men’s race started with a surprise not in who was fast off the line (Lars van der Haar of Giant-Shimano) but in who was caught looking down. Sven Nys (Creland – AA Drink) was literally staring at his feet when the light changed colors, and was immediately swarmed by the rows of racers behind. Nys would hit the first major descent far back in 25th place, and would work the entire race to make up for lost ground.
Up ahead, van der Haar quickly conceded the front, and 19-year-old Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), the former two-time Junior World Champion, took over. Van der Poel skipped the U23 race earlier in the day, and the decision appeared to pay off as he looked comfortable at the front. Behind, Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb – Napoleon Games) and van der Haar gave chase.
Van der Poel’s older brother and teammate David and Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea) reeled in the leading group, and suddenly there was a pack racing for the first Superprestige leader’s jersey of the season.
Riding as a pack as its dangers, however, and Tom Meeusen crashed on a right hand turn at the top of a descent, and chaos ensued. Meeusen’s teammate van Kessel and David van der Poel got tangled up, and suddenly van der Haar and Pauwels were alone up front with a large pack of ten, including pre-race favorites Nys and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb – Napoleon Games), thanks to Meeusen’s crash, now in the mix.
Pauwels faded in the sand, and van der Haar took advantage, opening up what looked to be an insurmountable gap. Pauwels would continue to struggle, and would be passed by the van der Poel brothers, Nys and Vantornout.
Mathieu van der Poel would shed himself of the chase group, and looked to be flying on the climbs and in the sand in his pursuit of van der Haar, and despite sliding out his rear wheel (see the 1:25 mark in the video below) in his sprint to take the lead, flew by van der Haar and never looked back until the finish straight.
Behind, van der Haar banged his bars in frustration yet-another podium without finishing on the top step, after a second at CrossVegas and third at the 2014 GP Soudal Neerpelt. Nys, ripping through the field and finishing 37 seconds behind in third, was left wondering what could have been.
Either way, the Dutch crowd was pleased to see two Dutch racers beat the Belgian cyclocross legend Sven Nys.
See highlights in the video below from our friends at vier.be.
2014 Superprestige Gieten Men’s Race Video – Highlights:
2014 Gieten Superprestige Men's Results
|1||Mathieu VAN DER POEL||NED||19||56:10:00||80|
|2||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||23||56:12:00||60|
|4||David VAN DER POEL||NED||22||56:54:00||30|
|7||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||23||57:26:00||17|
|19||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||28||58:35:00|
|22||Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN||NED||29||1:00:02|
|25||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||29||1:00:51|
|29||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||25|