DIEGEM, Belgium — Superprestige Diegem represents some of the best cyclocross racing for both spectators at the event and watching live. Mix together mud, grass, sand, stairs, flyovers, hop-able barriers with night racing and tens of thousands of beverage-consuming fans and you’ve got one of the must-watch races of the year.
The racers did their part in delivering supreme entertainment, with countless lead changes and last lap suspense delivered by the final leading trio of World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP Powerplus), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin).
— 伟业 wei yuet (@wyuet) December 27, 2015
After a typical van der Haar holeshot, Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) would try his luck with a brief go off the front, forcing the World Champion to lead the chase. Van Aert would look strong, but little did he know he’d end up using up his luck. After getting caught, but within striking distance of the win, the youngster would jam his rear derailleur with two to go and be forced to turn his Colnago into a scooter, standing on one pedal on the side of his bike, and kicking off down the straights until he could grab his pit bike. Van Aert would finish 10th, but hold onto his Superprestige overall lead.
— Sporza Wielrennen (@sporza_koers) December 27, 2015
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) would also have a go mid-race, but the Belgian bunnyhopper miscounted his matches, and found himself without a spare as he fell out of the leading four when the fireworks were scheduled on the last lap.
Thirty-nine-year-old Sven Nys (Crelan – AA Drink) had a slow start, but would eventually make his way through the field, and when the leaders started looking around, the living legend surged to the front, leading a dozen riders around Diegem briefly. The crowd went into a frenzy.
With one to to, it was van der Poel, van der Haar, Pauwels and Meeusen ready to contest the win. Meeusen would blow, while van der Poel was determined to avoid a repeat of van der Haar’s previous lap’s tactics of taking the inside line in the final mud pit and sending the World Champ wide and off his bike.
Instead, fortunes were reversed on the final lap. Van der Poel would enter and exit the mud before the stairs first, while van der Haar was forced to dismount. Pauwels would get by the Dutchman, and the final order was set.
If there was any doubt, the young Dutch World Champ is back after knee surgery. Could the late season debut play in his favor as we enter the final two months of the season? His competitors should be scared. When asked how much more he has to improve this season, van der Poel said, “Not much more…10 to 15 percent more. I feel myself accelerating very well, I just can not keep it up for so long…”
He kept it going long enough today in Diegem.
2 podiums. That's good. Loved racing today. Good crowds and an exciting final! To bad I didn't win. But it will come!!
— Lars van der Haar (@larsvanderhaar) December 27, 2015
Sven Nys lamented his slow start and getting caught behind traffic. “Too bad I already lost in the first lap so many places,” he said. “I had really good legs. I had to jump from group to group, but had hoped for support. I had to do all the work in the chase. Here was more, what a missed opportunity. I had the legs to fight for the podium.”
American Travis Livermon was the lone American finisher on the lead lap, finishing in 35th.
The television was particularly good today, aided by this camera setup:
Stay tuned for a full report. See the reports from the Women’s, U23 and Junior 2015 Superprestige Diegem races here.
2015 Superprestige Diegem Race Results - Men
|1||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||NED||20||59:06:00|
|3||VAN DER HAAR Lars||NED||24||59:09:00||0:03|
|8||VAN KESSEL Corne||NED||24||59:50:00||0:44|
|10||VAN AERT Wout||BEL||21||59:56:00||0:50|
|22||VAN AMERONGEN Thijs||NED||29||1:01:32||2:26|
|26||VAN DER POEL David||NED||23||1:02:34||3:28|
|33||DE CLEYN Dave||BEL||27||1:04:40||5:34|
|34||VAN DEN HAM Michael||CAN||23||1:04:55||5:49|
Overall 2015 Superprestige Standings:
- Wout van Aert
- Kevin Pauwels
- Sven Nys
- Lars van der Haar
- Klaas Vantornout