After a disappointing third-place finish at the World Championships marred Mathieu van der Poel’s otherwise magical 2017/18 campaign, the Dutch phenom still had consolation prizes in the DVV Trofee and Telenet Superprestige overall series to lock down after Worlds. Although, if you asked Van der Poel, he would certainly rather have the rainbow stripes than the nice paydays that accompany the season-long series success.

Van der Poel had the DVV Trofee locked up ahead of last weekend’s Krawatencross, so his win there served as a bittersweet victory lap. Van der Poel entered Saturday’s Superprestige Middelkerke with a four-point lead on Wout van Aert. However, the three-time defending champion hung up his Felt FRDx for the season after last weekend and began training for next weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad road race, so Saturday’s race served as another victory lap for Van der Poel.

All season long, the only rider who has been able to come close to matching Van der Poel’s blistering attacks is Van Aert. Not surprisingly, Van der Poel hit the line at Middelkerke as the odds-on favorite. Although, he was the heavy favorite at the World Championships as well, so that’s why they race the races, as they say.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... Mathieu van der Poel. 2017 Flandriencross. © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Mathieu van der Poel. 2017 Flandriencross. © J. Curtes / Cyclocross Magazine

Early on, Worlds second-place finisher Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) drove the pace while Van der Poel got caught up in traffic after a slow start. The field formed a large mass near the front, and after one lap, there was a string of almost 15 riders behind Vanthourenhout.

As the second lap progressed, Van der Poel slowly but surely made his way toward the head of the large lead group. One-by-one, he picked off riders and asserted himself. With two laps in the books, it was him, David van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Vanthourenhout and Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles) at the front.

Given Van der Poel’s favorite status, the question of the race was perhaps, during which lap is Van der Poel going to attack and then ride solo? On Saturday, the answer was the third.

Merlier led into the long sand pit, but had to awkwardly dismount in the deep pit. Van der Poel, who is known for having fun in the sand, stayed on his bike and plowed ahead of the dismounted Merlier and Vanthourenhout. He had a gap, he turned on his five-minute power, and he opened up a ten-second lead. Merlier and Vanthourenhout kept it at about ten seconds for maybe a lap, but then Van der Poel started to extend his lead and show there would be no topping him on the afternoon.

Not even a slip on a slick corner could derail his dominance.

The win was Van der Poel’s 29th of the 2017/18 season. With it comes a nice Superprestige overall series payday. Van Aert held onto second and Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) wrapped up an overall third.

Behind Van der Poel, Merlier and Vanthourenhout battled for the second podium position. Merlier eventually got the best of the duel to take second, and Vanthourenhout finished third.

Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing) finished 36th, Eric Thompson ( 41st and Tyler Cloutier (Matrix Cycling Club) 44th.

Full results and top ten for the overall series are below.

Men's Results: 2018 Superprestige Middelkerke

12VAN DER POEL MathieuNED1h00´17.0"
210MERLIER TimBEL1h00´32.0"+15.0"
36VANTHOURENHOUT MichaelBEL1h00´36.0"+19.0"
45MEEUSEN TomBEL1h00´51.0"+34.0"
58VAN DER HAAR LarsNED1h00´56.0"+39.0"
64SWEECK LaurensBEL1h01´05.0"+48.0"
77AERTS ToonBEL1h01´17.0"+1´00.0"
815VAN DER POEL DavidNED1h01´30.0"+1´13.0"
93PAUWELS KevinBEL1h01´40.0"+1´23.0"
1025AERNOUTS JimBEL1h01´57.0"+1´40.0"
1114ADAMS JensBEL1h02´16.0"+1´59.0"
1226BOSMANS WietseBEL1h02´30.0"+2´13.0"
1318VANTHOURENHOUT DieterBEL1h02´53.0"+2´36.0"
1411HERMANS QuintenBEL1h02´57.0"+2´40.0"
1512VERMEERSCH GianniBEL1h03´00.0"+2´43.0"
1652VAN KESSEL CorneNED1h03´06.0"+2´49.0"
1739ORTS LLORET FelipeESP1h03´22.0"+3´05.0"
1817SOETE DaanBEL1h03´52.0"+3´35.0"
1935MEISEN MarcelGER1h04´09.0"+3´52.0"
2019VANTORNOUT KlaasBEL1h04´18.0"+4´01.0"
2140PEETERS RobBEL1h04´18.0"+4´01.0"
2224ADAMS JoeriBEL1h04´18.0"+4´01.0"
2320GODRIE StanNED1h04´37.0"+4´20.0"
2413BOROŠ MichaelCZE1h04´37.0"+4´20.0"
2516BERTOLINI GioeleITA1h05´14.0"+4´57.0"
2636MERLIER BraamBEL1h05´30.0"+5´13.0"
2732ESTEBAN AGUERO IsmaelESP1h05´47.0"+5´30.0"
289NIEUWENHUIS JorisNED1h06´07.0"+5´50.0"
2951VAN LEEUWEN PatrickNED1h06´15.0"+5´58.0"
3033HOEYBERGHS DaanBEL1h06´18.0"+6´01.0"
3148VAN COMPERNOLLE KennethBEL1h06´24.0"+6´07.0"
3231DEGROOTE JonasBEL2 r
3344SWEECK HendrikBEL2 r
3445TIELEN DarioBEL2 r
3850VAN DER MEER GosseNED3 r
3934KOYEN NielsBEL3 r
4030DE WIT EdwinBEL4 r
4229DE BOCK JelleBEL5 r
4327CLOUTIER TylerUSA5 r
4437OGER VincentBEL6 r

Men's Final Standings: 2018 Telenet Superprestige Overall Series

1Mathieu van der Poel 1151515121513151515
2Wout van Aert96141415141514100
3Laurens Sweeck86131114110131410
4Lars van der Haar8012131313103511
5Toon Aerts8078912141299
6Quinten Hermans5411101039632
7Tim Merlier534378241114
8Kevin Pauwels52948681007
9Michael Vanthourenhout5100410751213
10David van der Poel513120708138