Van der Poel tearfully raises his arms in victory in the Men’s Elite Race at Tabor. © Mike Albright/Cyclocross Magazine

Van der Poel, shown here in Tabor, won in Lille over Van Aert. © Mike Albright/Cyclocross Magazine

LILLE, Belgium – Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) donned the rainbow jersey for his first race as the new World Champion, dominating the field to cross the line 37 seconds ahead of a four-man chase group.

Van der Poel railed through corners that slowed the competition down, allowing him to slowly enlarge his lead after taking to the front of the race, upping the pace to break up what was an 11-man lead group going into lap four.

With van der Poel secure in his lead, the remaining podium positions were decided by a four-way sprint finish that included Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Cycling Team), Sven Nys (Crelan – AA Drink Team), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team) and Lars van der Haar (Team Giant – Alpeci).

Leading out the pack, Van Aert managed to hold his position with Nys edging out Van der Haar for the final spot.

The 20-year-old World Champion bided his time  early on in the race, allowing things to sort themselves out before moving up from around tenth position.

Spills included Jim Arenouts (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team) and Rob Peeters (Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Cycling Team) going down before the first turn of the course while jockeying for position, and Sunweb – Napoleon Games rider Tim Merlier’s barrier crash in lap two, shortly after bridging the gap to the then leaders Van der Haar and Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team).

The front of the race settled in and swelled to 11 riders before the decisive move by van der Poel in lap four  strung out the field. Unable to match the surge, Nys dropped back from second position hoping to force someone else to take up the chase. Not wanting to allow Van der Poel to ride away, Van der Haar took up the reigns, but despite putting in a big effort, Van der Poel managed to extend his lead.

Van Aert was next to put in a dig, taking Van der Haar with him. Nys and Pauwels  paced a few seconds behind, allowing the younger riders burn their matches while the veterans slowly reeled in the gap.

By lap seven the four chasers were back together with Van der Poel’s lead continuing to extend. Sensing his advantage, Van der Poel went into cruise control, albeit a fast one, his gap topping out at 50 seconds at the beginning of lap nine.

Claiming third, Nys appeared back to his confident self in the ensuing sprint, in a group that can be summed up as the representation of cyclocross’ current span of generations.

Van Aert’s consistent riding through the series places him first in the general classification, 6:17 ahead of Pauwels and 7:53 ahead of third place Meeusen.

Check out coverage of the Elite Women’s race here.

2105 Bpost Bank Trofee Krawatencross – Elite Men’s Brief Results

1Mathieu VAN DER POELNED201:02:22
2Wout VAN AERTBEL211:02:59
3Sven NYSBEL391:02:59
4Lars VAN DER HAARNED241:02:59
5Kevin PAUWELSBEL311:02:59
6Vincent BAESTAENSBEL261:03:14
7Tim MERLIERBEL231:03:15
8Marcel MEISENGER261:03:15
9Philipp WALSLEBENGER281:03:23
10Tom MEEUSENBEL271:03:23