Yesterday, it looked like the front of the Men’s cyclocross peloton got a massive shake-up when Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) crashed in a small ditch at Brico Cross Lokeren and injured his ankle. At the time, heavy swelling suggested it might be broken, but after heading to the doctor, Van del Poel learned it was *just* a sprain.
The massive shake-up in the Men’s field lasted less than 24 hours. On Sunday, Van der Poel took the start line at Superprestige Gieten for the race in front of his home-country fans.
Conditions in Gieten were beautiful, with the sun shining and temperatures reaching the 70s, but with a decent amount of sand thanks to the setting at the Jonkers Zandgat sand quarry, Van der Poel faced at least one, if not more, dismount per lap to test his injured ankle.
Barely 10 minutes into the race, Van der Poel’s reaction was, Injury? What injury?
Van der Poel slowly started to pull away from Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon Offroad Team) in the second lap with one of his lap-long efforts. A lap later, his lead grew to 15 seconds.
The story the rest of the race was one fans have seen time and time again the last few seasons, with Van der Poel taking home a dominant victory and Van Aert finishing second.
If Van der Poel’s ankle was hurting during the race, he certainly did not show it.
Another Dominant Van der Poel Win
It took almost no time at all for the scene at the front of Sunday’s Elite Men’s race in Gieten to shape up how fans expected. Van der Poel, Van Aert and the star of the first month of the season Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) were at the front.
Aerts challenge to Van Aert and Van der Poel, however, was short-lived. Aerts wiped out on one of the sandy corners and dropped back to seventh place. By the end of the first ronde, it was the familiar scene of Van Aert and Van der Poel at the front.
Van der Poel decided to test his injured ankle early and put the hammer down at the start of the second lap. Van Aert did his best to follow, but when the two entered the sand, Van der Poel already held a slight two-second advantage. At the end of the lap, it was up to four.
Midway through the third lap, it was clear trying to keep pace with Van der Poel took its toll on Van Aert. The World Champion slowly faded during the lap, and at the end of the third of 11 laps, Van der Poel’s advantage was 14 seconds. It was the closest Van Aert would get to the leader the rest of the race.
Van der Poel grew his lead to 36 seconds at one point and finished the race with a comfortable 30-second win over Van Aert. If Sunday’s performance shows what Van der Poel can ride like with an injury, it suggests the rest of the 2018/19 season might have a similar vibe to that of the 2017/18 campaign were Van der Poel won 32 races.
Van Aert finished second for the sixth time this season.
Aerts recovered from his early mistake and rose to the top of the chase group to take third.
A photo gallery and full results are below.
Photo Gallery: 2018 Men’s Superprestige Gieten