SINT-NIKLAAS, Belgium—The 2016 Soudal Classics series continued today under gray skies and in the sand of Sint-Niklaas. While the dazzling duo of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel preserved their matches for Sunday’s Superprestige in Oostkamp – Ruddervoorde, Laurens Sweeck (ERA Circus), Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Lions) made the trip in hopes of taking advantage of the opportunity to swipe some UCI C2 points at the Waaslandcross event.

While Van Aert skipped the event, his nemesis made its return after taking a few races off. The pesky drivetrain chain issue wasted no time to make its impact, rearing its ugly head, this time taking out the on-paper race favorite Sweeck from contention just a few feet into the race, jamming his rear Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 rear derailleur:

“Game Over!” shouted the Belgian TV announcers declared.

Meeusen, perhaps sensing bike sponsor Trek was closely following the event, seized the opportunity to make sure Sweeck never rejoined the leaders. The Belgian hit the front, riding a steep hill and opening a gap that he’d only extend with each subsequent lap.

Rob Peeters (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), winner of Day 1 in China, had free reign with team leader Van Aert missing, and gave chase. However, even with a last lap ridden by Meeusen at a cool down pace, Peeters could not reel in Meeusen.

Newly-crowned UEC European Cyclocross Champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) finished in third.

Watch the full race below. Full results below the video. Stay tuned for full coverage of the Hansgrohe Superprestige Ruddervoorde race tomorrow.

2016 Soudal Classics - Sint-Niklaas Results: Elite Men

1Tom MeeusenTelenet-Fidea Lions00:57:54
2Rob PeetersCrelan-Vastgoedservice00:00:43
3Toon AertsTelenet-Fidea Lions00:00:56
4Dieter VanthourenhoutMarlux-Napoleon Games00:01:06
5Tim MerlierCrelan-Vastgoedservice00:01:18
6Michael VanthourenhoutMarlux-Napoleon Games00:01:31
7David Van der PoelBeobank-Corendon00:01:40
8Jens AdamsCrelan-Vastgoedservice00:01:40
9Jim AernoutsTelenet-Fidea Lions00:01:50
10Gianni VermeerschTeam Steylaerts00:01:57
11Joeri AdamsKalas-NNOF00:01:59
12Kevin PauwelsMarlux-Napoleon Games00:02:09
13Diether SweeckERA Circus00:02:16
14Vincent BaestaensBeobank-Corendon00:02:24
15Laurens SweeckERA Circus00:02:32
16Daan SoeteTelenet-Fidea Lions00:02:45
17Stan GodrieRabobank Development Team00:03:21
18Daan HoeyberghsBeobank-Corendon00:03:41