In 22 of his 24 race starts coming into Sunday, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) had put on what can best be described as a cyclocross clinic with his power, technical skill and general presence on his cyclocross bike.
On Sunday, at the new Brussels Universities Cyclocross race, Van der Poel got the chance to put on a ’cross clinic in the proper setting.
Set on the campus of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the new DVV Trofee race featured a technical section with descents and slick off-cambers and a series of rolling ups and downs on the campus’ main lawn. It was the perfect setting for a Van der Poel master class.
The Dutch wunderkind took the holeshot and then led the field into the woods. After exiting the technical section, he had a small lead on Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux – Bingoal). Van der Poel’s Belgian competitor could not put in the effort to bridge the small gap early on, and after one lap, Van der Poel led a group of five by 11 seconds.
The rest of the way, Van der Poel was the Big Man on Campus, ripping up the campus lawn rollers, powering through the technical section in the woods. The only thing he did not do was ride the “Belgian stairs.” It appears we will all have to take his 200-level class on cyclocross to learn that skill.
With most Belgian races dialed in over decades of racing, Sunday’s DVV Trofee Brussels Universities Cyclocross provided a chance to see what a Euro course designer would do with a new venue. The hilly race featured a technical series of descents and off-cambers in the woods in the first part of the lap, and several ups and downs on the VUB lawn typically seen in University promotional literature.
In the month leading up to the race university students protested the loud and disruptive race being held before exams, but on Sunday, the event went off without a hitch.
After a few recent slow starts, Van der Poel wasted zero time getting to the front of Sunday’s race. He took the holeshot and then kept the lead heading out onto the course. After leading the way through the technical section in the woods, he opened up a small gap on Vanthourenhout and others at Pit 1.
Vanthourenhout was within a few seconds at a series of 180 off-cambers, but he was unable to close to Van der Poel’s wheel. When the Dutch star reached the raucous crowd at the rolling campus lawn, his lead was starting to grow. At the end of one lap, Van der Poel led by 11 seconds. Chasing him were Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions), Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions), Eli Iserbyt (Marlux – Bingoal) and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions).
With the five chasers preoccupied with one another, Van der Poel was free to do Van der Poel things and extend his early lead. Two laps in he led by 19 seconds, and after three laps it was up to 31 seconds.
During his comeback win at GP Sven Nys, Van der Poel finally erased his large gap in the DVV Trofee series overall time omnium and took over the lead from Aerts. Once 30 seconds in the lead, Van der Poel kept his gap there to take his 23rd win of the season and further cement his hold on the DVV Trofee overall series.
The chase swelled from five early on, to seven after lap three with Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) also joining the group.
The big group did not last long, and in Lap 4, Aerts went into solo seconds after the technical section in the woods. Vanthourenhout also got some space on the rest of the chasers to take over third.
Aerts was not challenged in his bid for second, but Vanthourenhout got all he could handle. In the penultimate lap, Van der Haar and Iserbyt completed their bridge to make it a group of three for third heading into the last lap. Vanthourenhout held Van der Haar and his teammate off to finish third.
Full results are below.
Next up are Nationals for many European nations on Saturday and Cyclocross Otegem on Sunday.
Elite Men Results: 2019 Brussels Universities Cyclocross
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|1||1||VAN DER POEL||Mathieu||NED||1:03:33|
|4||5||VAN DER HAAR||Lars||NED||1:04:40|
|23||30||DE MEYER||Senne||BEL||-4 LAPS|
|DNF||7||VAN DER POEL||David||NED|