The fifth round of the World Cup was held in the Belgian town of Koksijde, which offers world’s most famous sandy cyclocross track. World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) had to start from the third start row again, since he didn’t score any points in the first few rounds of the World Cup.
That did not stop him from winning last weekend at Tabor, but it took a tough fight for the World Champion to get that win. Would another great battle be in store at the famed dunes of Koksijde?
Belgian national road champion Tim Merlier (Creafin-Fristads) crashed in the first corner and fell back to last position. Van der Poel got held up behind the melee and fell all the way back to fifth-to-last position. Ten seconds into the race, his task for Sunday was that much harder.
Joris Nieuwenhuis (Sunweb) lead the pack in the first half of the first lap. Halfway through the first lap, Van der Poel had already moved up to fourth position. Once Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) went clear, Van der Poel stepped up. He joined Sweeck by the end of the first lap. The big gap he faced early in the race was no problem at all.
World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Van der Poel’s older brother David (Corendon-Circus) crossed the line with a 3-second arrear.
Iserbyt began the second lap trying to close the gap, but Van der Poel lifted the pace. Sweeck couldn’t keep up with Van der Poel and got dropped. A little later, Sweeck was joined by Telenet-Baloise Lions Quinten Hermans and Toon Aerts. Together they crossed the line with an 8 seconds arrear on Van der Poel.
Van der Poel extended his lead in the third lap, as he had a 16-second advantage on a group with Sweeck and Telenet-Baloise Lions Hermans, Aerts and Corné van Kessel by the end of the lap. Lars van der Haar soon bridged the gap with the chasers too. Four Telenet-Baloise Lions were now chasing Van der Poel along with Pauwels Sauzen interloper Sweeck.
Van der Poel’s laps, however, kept being faster and faster, as he referred the chasers to a 36-seconds deficit halfway through the race. Iserbyt was already 1 minute 10 seconds behind, as he was not having his best day.
When van der Poel entered the last lap, he had extended his lead to 57 seconds on Aerts and Sweeck. Sweeck went clear to take second, but the win was already lost since the second lap.
Van der Poel took his 33th consecutive cyclocross win and his 7th win of the season.
What will be remembered in particular though was how he moved up from near the back to second position in the first lap.
“That is for sure one of the best first laps of my career. I wanted to take my time for it to ride back to the front, but I felt immediately that I had very good legs,” he told Sporza after the race. “Before I knew, I was back in front. Especially on the long dune I ran very good and passed a few people. After that I have ridden my own race. That’s always a good idea in the sand.”
Sweeck finished second and Aerts third. Iserbyt finished 12th, but kept his lead in the World Cup standings.
Drew Juiliano (Voler Pro CX / Cure IBD p/b Shimano) finished 42nd. Max Judelson (Voler / Easton / HRS / Rock Lobster) 47th and Tyler Cloutier (TCCX) 48th.
Full results are below.
Elite Men Results: 2019 World Cup Koksijde
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|1||1||VAN DER POEL||Mathieu||NED||0:59:58|
|4||2||VAN DER HAAR||Lars||NED||1:00:38|
|12||5||VAN DER POEL||David||NED||1:01:47|
|33||8||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Maik||NED||1:05:36|