Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) wasted no time attacking in the first lap at Sunday’s Flandriencross in Hamme. However, unlike many other races, this time he had a friend off the front.

Teammate Tom Meeusen (Corendon – Circus) followed Van der Poel’s move and joined him in the lead. After one lap, the duo on nine seconds on the field. From there, it just kept growing.

As the laps ticked by, the lead grew and Meeusen stayed on Van der Poel’s wheel. The only real question was whether Van der Poel would attack his teammate as he has done to others during his run of dominance.

The answer was yes.

At the start of the penultimate lap, Van der Poel attacked. By the time he reached the Toyo Tire ride-up, his lead was eight seconds. At the end of the lap it was 24.

Meeusen gave a valiant effort, but Van der Poel’s combination of power and technical ability was too much. His consolation prize for hitching a ride to the Van der Poel train was an impressive second.

Van der Poel won the race by 44 seconds.

Post-ups from Van der Poel have been a common sight this year.. 2018 Superprestige Ruddervoorde. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Post-ups from Van der Poel have been a common sight this year. 2018 Superprestige Ruddervoorde. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

All Aboard the Van der Poel Train

At the start of Sunday’s race in Hamme, Mathieu van der Poel shot out onto the dry, fast Flandriencross course. Showing little patience, he attacked from the start.

Sometimes a rider or two are able to follow Van der Poel’s early moves. On Sunday, when the Dutch wunderkind looked over his shoulder, he saw the familiar face of teammate Tom Meeusen.

Meeusen spent most of October outside the top 10, but he has found his way as high as fifth since the last week of that month. On Sunday, he hitched his car to the Van der Poel train to try to ride to his first podium finish of the 2018/19 season.

After one lap, the Corendon – Circus duo had eight seconds on a massive chase group.

From there the lead grew. 15 seconds. 26 seconds. 44 seconds. Meeusen was still on Van der Poel’s wheel.

Tom Meeusen finished sixth at Gavere and was well-set for a better showing in Hamme. 2018 Superprestige Gavere Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Tom Meeusen finished sixth at Gavere and was well-set for a better showing in Hamme. 2018 Superprestige Gavere Men. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Behind them a massive chase group swelled to 10—Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb), Gianni Vermeersch (Steylaerts – 777), Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux – Bingoal), Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions), Tom Pidcock (TP Racing), Kevin Pauwels (Marlux – Bingoal), Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions), Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice), Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Jim Aernouts (Telenet Fidea Lions).

Meeusen Hangs On

After 7 of 9 laps, Van der Poel and Meeusen had a 1:25 lead on a chase group that was now down to 5. Thus far, Meeusen had stuck Van der Poel’s wheel, but with Van der Poel in control, it seemed he had a big attack left in him. The question was if he would break his teammate’s soul the way he had done to the rest of the European ’cross peloton during the past several years.

Meeusen was not spared Van der Poel’s power.

The young Dutchman attacked at the start of the penultimate lap. Meeusen did not have the legs to follow. Van der Poel’s lead was eight seconds at the Toyo Tires. By the end of the lap, it had swelled to 24 seconds.

Fortunately for Meeusen, the chase was still over 1:20 behind him. Worst case, his plan of staying with Van der Poel was going to deliver him a Flandriencross silver.

Van der Poel entered Sunday’s race facing a large time deficit in the DVV Trofee standings after his poor showing at Koppenbergcross, so he stayed on the gas the entire last lap. He nearly doubled his advantage over Meeusen and crossed the line with a 44-second win.

Meeusen held on to take an impressive second.

After chasing the chase early on, Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) joined the chase, made the final group of five and then won the finishing sprint to take third ahead of Vermeersch.

Full results are below.

Featured image: Bart Hazen

Elite Men's Results: 2018 Flandriencross

11VAN DER POELMathieuNED0:58:57
76VAN KESSELCorneNED1:00:50
95VAN DER HAARLarsNED1:00:59