MALMEDY, Belgium – Wout Van Aert (Vastgoed Service-Golden Palace) claimed a commanding victory on the slopes of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most challenging Formula One tracks in the world, in the fifth round of the 2015 Superprestige series.

The racetrack known for its demanding technical sections proved to be as equally challenging as a cyclocross course as several riders including World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) hit the deck on its many steep and windy slopes covered in copious amounts of mud.

Van der Poel had a good start, taking the holeshot before relinquishing the lead to Radomir Simunek (Kwadro-Stannah), who was soon passed on a short, steep, muddy section as he fell attempting to ride the obstacle.

Before long van Aert was at the head of the race and opening up a gap with Sven Nys (Crelan AA-Drink), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Lars Van der Haar (Team Giant-Alpecin), Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), and teammate Toon Aerts forming the chase group.

With van Aert Aert away it was now a race for second although now noticeably out of the mix was van der Poel who was already in distress before going over the handlebars on a short but muddy drop in the third lap.

Nys drove the pace initially, attempting to close the gap, taking Vantornout with him until being reabsorbed in the main chase group by the fourth lap.

With two remaining Aerts and Vantornout made a break, building a substantial lead. Nys waited until the course turned onto the racetrack with one-to-go to close the gap, taking van Kessel along. Pauwels, who had also been in the Nys group, was unable to match the acceleration on the long climb, dropping to the third group in what at the time appeared to be the decisive break.

Aerts, who was having a phenomenal race, suffered a puncture leading into that final lap, dashing any hopes of a podium. Keeping the pressure up, Nys dropped his remaining competition Vantornout by mid lap to claim second. A podium nearly in his grasp, Vantornout relinquished his position to Pauwels and then van der Haar in the final moments of the race, crossing the line in fifth place.

Van Aert had clear sailing and time to spare when crossing the line for his 13th win of the season.

A photo posted by Steven Hendrikx (@stehqq) on

Not all the kisses today were from podium girls:

A little kiss from my girl after the finish ? #superprestige #spafrancorchamps

A photo posted by David Van der Poel (@davidvanderpoel) on

2015 Hansgrohe Superprestige #5 - Spa-Francorchamps Results - Men's Elite

1Wout VAN AERTBEL211:03:00
2Sven NYSBEL391:04:04
3Kevin PAUWELSBEL311:04:13
4Klaas VANTORNOUTBEL331:04:16
5Corne VAN KESSELNED241:04:29
6Toon AERTSBEL221:04:30
7Thijs VAN AMERONGENNED291:04:33
8Lars VAN DER HAARNED241:04:42
9Tom MEEUSENBEL271:05:09
10Tim MERLIERBEL231:05:46
11Laurens SWEECKBEL221:05:58
12Mathieu VAN DER POELNED201:06:03
13David VAN DER POELNED231:06:30
14Gianni VERMEERSCHBEL231:06:36
15Marcel MEISENGER261:07:15
16Rob PEETERSBEL301:07:30
17Stan GODRIENED221:08:12
18Vincent BAESTAENSBEL261:08:59
19Niels WUBBENNED271:09:04