After a more laid-back, patient win—by his standards—on Saturday at Jaarmarktcross, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) hit the start line at Superprestige Gavere ready to rip.
Van der Poel took the holeshot and then charged out onto the muddy course in Gavere. Only Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) was able to answer the bell, and the two were quickly off the front.
Van der Poel and Aerts rode together for the next lap and a half, while Wout van Aert (Cebel – Cibon Offroad Team) moved into a solo third. At the start of the third lap, Van der Poel let Aerts pull around and take the lead spot. But not for long.
With Van Aert closing the gap, Van der Poel could only wait for so long before making his patented move.
As Aerts cautiously entered the tight, left-hand turn descent, Van der Poel dive-bombed right in. He took the lead from Aerts and in the blink of an eye, he had a gap on his Belgian counterpart.
At the end of three of nine laps, Van der Poel’s lead grew to 12 seconds. His move was made. Aerts and Van Aert were now racing for second.
Van der Poel stayed nearly perfect to win his eighth race of the season and stay perfect in the Superprestige series.
Fast Start in Gavere
With conditions at Superprestige Gavere muddy and the course tight and technical in spots, Mathieu van der Poel wasted little time in putting himself in a spot to get a good look at the ruts and corners.
Van der Poel took the holeshot and then accelerated through the first third of the lap. His move offered the other riders the chance to get on his wheel and get a nice early boost or be left behind before the race was five minutes old.
Only Aerts answered Van der Poel’s challenge. The two quickly expanded their gap, while Van Aert and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) tried to chase. After one lap, Van der Poel and Aerts had 16 seconds on Van Aert and Sweeck.
In the second lap, Van Aert dropped Sweeck and took over the chase solo. Van der Poel continued to drive the pace at the front, while Aerts was more than happy to tag along.
Van der Poel Makes His Move
Early in the third lap, Aerts moved to the front—no wire-to-wire win for Van der Poel on Sunday—while Van Aert closed the gap to the two leaders.
With Van Aert charging hard, Van der Poel could only wait so long.
Fans watching at the narrow, left-hand descent got to see the Dutch wunderkind’s famed bike handling in action. Aerts entered the descent cautiously. Van der Poel was anything but cautious.
Van der Poel powered into the descent on the inside line and ripped through with his trademark deftness. When he cleared the section, he had picked up several seconds on Aerts. It happened that fast.
Van der Poel pressed his advantage and attacked. When the muddy lap was over, Van der Poel’s lead was already 12 seconds on Aerts.
As we have seen race after race in the past several years, Van der Poel’s move was the race. He expanded his lead while Aerts dropped back to Van Aert to form a chase of two.
Van der Poel’s lead grew to a maximum of 40 seconds, and he coasted home with his third Superprestige win in as many tries this season.
Aerts dropped Van Aert in Lap 7 to take over solo second, where he stayed for the rest of the race. Van Aert took third.
Tom Pidcock (TP Racing) had a strong finish to the race to take fourth and the top U23 spot. Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) took fifth.
Full results are below.
Elite Men's Results: 2018 Superprestige Gavere
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|1||2||VAN DER POEL||Mathieu||NED||1:04:52|
|5||6||VAN DER HAAR||Lars||NED||1:06:42|
|39||69||VAN COMPERNOLLE||Kenneth||BEL||-4 LAPS|
|40||10||VAN DER POEL||David||NED||-4 LAPS|
|41||63||VAN DIJKE||Tim||NED||-5 LAPS|
|43||62||VAN DIJKE||Mick||NED||-5 LAPS|
|46||31||DE WIT||Edwin||BEL||-6 LAPS|