Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) had some unfinished business on Sunday at World Cup Namur.
During an incredible 32-win 2017/18 campaign, two notable races Van der Poel did not win were the World Championships and the World Cup at Namur. In the latter, Wout van Aert (Cibel – Cebon Offroad Team) dominated in front of the home-country fans while Van der Poel finished a disappointing third.
Given Namur’s challenge and iconic status, Van der Poel headed to the Citadel ready to atone for 2017.
Early in Lap 2 on Sunday, Van der Poel again put his incredible talent on display. As Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) gingerly made his way through the rutted off-camber, Van der Poel flew through the section and passed Aerts at the exit by dropping down a rut and powering past the World Cup overall leader.
Van der Poel then sprinted up the two run-ups, pressing his advantage on Aerts. On the bike and on foot, the Dutch wunderkind opened up an eight-second lead on Aerts.
From there, it was Dutch dominance from Van der Poel once again.
One piece of unfinished business has been taken care of in emphatic fashion. One more remains six weeks from now.
More Van der Poel Magic
Last year, Wout van Aert had a standout race at Namur, winning by over a minute and getting a hero’s welcome from the home-country fans.
On Sunday, his chance for a similar coronation slipped away from the opening green light. Van Aert missed his pedal and got swamped at the start. Two seconds in, he was already chasing.
Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) took the holeshot and charged up the first climb. Early on, he was off the front by a few seconds, but eventually, Van der Poel reeled him back in. The early lead group was Van der Poel, Sweeck, Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux – Bingoal), Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Kevin Pauwels (Marlux – Bingoal).
Later in Lap 1, Aerts moved to the front and took over the lead spot from Sweeck. The move took him, Van der Poel and Vanthourenhout off the front into a lead group of three. Van Aert was in eighth, chasing 18 seconds on the dreary afternoon in Wallonia.
The famed rutted off-camber is always prime viewing for veldrijden fans hoping to witness the spectacle of the sport. In Lap 2, it was the spot to watch the latest display of Van der Poel’s bike-handling magic.
As Aerts awkwardly tried to ride a rut, Van der Poel accelerated through in a straight line. Shortly before the exit, Van der Poel dropped down a rut a passed Aerts on the inside at the exit.
Leaving no doubt that this was his move, Van der Poel then sprinted up the two run-ups, forcing Aerts to try to follow his red-line pace. Spoiler alert for anyone who has not been watching cyclocross this season: Aerts could not follow Van der Poel’s pace.
After two laps, Van der Poel’s lead was eight seconds on Aerts.
The next lap, with Van der Poel already extending his lead, Aerts’ troubles on the off-camber continued when he slipped out and fell on his drivetrain side. Fortunately for him, there was no bent hanger or smashed derailleur, but the tumble allowed Van Aert and Vanthourenhout to catch up with him.
Meanwhile, just a third of the way into the race, Van der Poel’s lead was already 30 seconds.
From there, Van der Poel dominated.
As he went up the run-ups, there was no hero’s welcome like Van Aert got in 2017, but the win was every bit as dominant as his Belgian counterpart’s performance last year.
With the win, Van der Poel stayed perfect in the World Cups he has raced this season. The victory was also his 17th of the 2018/19 campaign thus far.
Van Aert broke away from Aerts in Lap 4 and finished a strong second, save his terrible start to the race.
Aerts got a later-race challenge from Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb) but then broke away to take third. The race was the seventh time this season Van der Poel, Van Aert and Aerts went 1-2-3.
Despite finishing third, Aerts still holds a 17-point advantage on Van Aert in the World Cup overall. Van der Poel is chasing 95 points after skipping the first two World Cups in September.
Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) finished 41st, Michael van den Ham (Garneau – Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) took 44th, Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 47th, Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) 48th, Max Judelson (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster) 55th, Cameron Jette 59th, Tyler Cloutier (Garneau – Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) 63rd.
Full results are below.
Elite Men Results: 2018 World Cup Namur
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|1||19||VAN DER POEL||Mathieu||NED||1:03:37|
|10||20||VAN DER HAAR||Lars||NED||1:07:27|
|11||22||VAN DER POEL||David||NED||1:07:47|
|31||49||RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBAÑEZ||Javier||ESP||LAP|
|35||26||VAN DER MEER||Gosse||NED||LAP|
|44||63||VAN DEN HAM||Michael||CAN||LAP|