Even Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) cannot win every race. After a tough day on Friday at Brico Cross Bredene (with a “tough day” meaning “second-place finish”), Van der Poel was looking to bounce back under the lights at the Telenet Superprestige Diegem. Coming into the race, he had won six straight times at Diegem across the Junior, U23 and Elite categories.
Seven is known as a lucky number, but early on, it looked like another tough day at the office for Van der Poel. He crashed a minute into the race at the entrance to the tough off-camber and fell back out of the top ten. His luck then turned when he avoided crashes by Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) and Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) that set other riders back.
Van der Poel caught the leading Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) about 20 minutes into the race and then got out of the saddle and unleashed a massive attack through the streets of Diegem in the fourth lap. Van Aert had no response to Van der Poel’s fury.
The story from there was a familiar one. Van der Poel extended his lead each lap while Van was unable to bring him back. The win was Van der Poel’s 21st of the season, 29th of the 2017 calendar year and 7th straight at Diegem. Number seven was lucky for Van der Poel after all.
Bad Luck, Good Luck for Van der Poel
The first technical feature of the Diegem course was an oft-muddy off-camber that has been known to give riders trouble. In the first lap, Van der Poel became the feature’s latest victim when he crashed entering the off-camber on the high line. He fell back to about 15th while a large group of riders formed at the front of the race.
Van der Poel’s luck soon turned, in a way, when he avoided an Adams crash, when he slipped out on one of the manhole covers in the streets of Diegem. Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) was not as lucky.
In past races, Van Aert has attacked when Van der Poel has had first-lap troubles, but on Saturday, it took him nearly the entire first lap to escape from the gaggle of riders at the front. He finally got some space climbing the stairs up to the start/finish straight and turned on the gas to get a gap on the other riders.
At the start of the second lap, Van der Poel again experienced a bit of luck. Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) crashed on the off-camber and held up several riders behind him. Fortunately for Van der Poel, he had opted for the high line while the Hermans-induced traffic jam was on the low line. He was already all the way up to third place.
Van der Poel Makes His Move
After two laps, Van der Poel was still 13 seconds in arrears of Van Aert, but at the start of the third stanza, he started to close that gap. Bike length by bike length he reeled Van Aert back in and made the catch at the barriers. Once in front, he kept the pace high and made Van Aert try to hold his wheel.
Van Aert did his best to match Van der Poel’s blistering speed, but he could only stay close so long. Once the duo hit the streets of Diegem for the fourth time, Van der Poel revved his V8, got out of the saddle and unleashed a blistering attack. Van Aert was broken. The defending World Champion was unable to match the attack or really even get out of the saddle. Van der Poel’s five to ten-minute power was again too much.
At the end of the fourth lap, Van der Poel had opened up a ten-second lead. Van der Poel’s only struggle was with the high line on the off-camber, and he eventually changed course and ran the low line. It would not matter, as Van Aert never came close to him.
Van der Poel has made a habit of unleashing a tailwhip off the flyover in the last lap. With the landing a mess of muddy ruts, he instead opted for a wave to the fans and a wheelie down the finishing stretch.
At the finish line, Van der Poel dismounted to give his Stevens Super Prestige some love one last time. With his team switching to the Canyon Inflite on Monday, it was his last race aboard the bike that has brought him so many wins, included the aforementioned seven at Diegem. Even though Van der Poel is Dutch, it may be time to rename it the GP Mathieu van der Poel in homage to his excellence under the lights.
Van Aert was unchallenged for second after he got dropped by Van der Poel and Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) had another solid race with a solo third.
Australian Garry Millburn (Speedvagen MAAP) finished 22nd, Canadians Brody Sanderson and Trevor O’Donnell 27th and 28th and Andrew Juiliano (Grit World Racing p/b Shimano) placed 31st.
Men's Results: 2017 Superprestige Diegem
|1||2||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||NED||BEOBANK-CORENDON||1h03´45.0"|
|2||1||VAN AERT Wout||BEL||CRELAN - CHARLES||1h04´40.0"|
|3||4||SWEECK Laurens||BEL||ERA REAL ESTATE - CIRCUS||1h05´26.0"|
|4||7||AERTS Toon||BEL||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||1h06´03.0"|
|5||36||MEISEN Marcel||GER||STEYLAERTS FIRSTBET||1h06´13.0"|
|6||3||PAUWELS Kevin||BEL||MARLUX - NAPOLEON GAMES CYCLIN||1h06´15.0"|
|8||15||VAN DER POEL David||NED||BEOBANK-CORENDON||1h06´36.0"|
|9||13||BOROS Michael||CZE||PAUWELS SAUZEN - VASTGOEDSERVI||1h06´40.0"|
|10||11||HERMANS Quinten||BEL||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||1h07´00.0"|
|11||6||VANTHOURENHOUT Michael||BEL||MARLUX - NAPOLEON GAMES CYCLIN||1h07´10.0"|
|12||10||MERLIER Tim||BEL||CRELAN - CHARLES||1h07´21.0"|
|13||8||VAN DER HAAR Lars||NED||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||1h07´32.0"|
|14||14||ADAMS Jens||BEL||PAUWELS SAUZEN-VASTGOEDSERVICE||1h07´59.0"|
|15||20||GODRIE Stan||NED||CRELAN - CHARLES||1h08´07.0"|
|16||21||CLEPPE Nicolas||BEL||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||1h08´33.0"|
|17||9||NIEUWENHUIS Joris||NED||DEVELOPMENT TEAM SUNWEB||1h09´22.0"|
|18||28||ESTEBAN AGUERO Ismael||ESP||CC GUSANO||1h09´32.0"|
|19||38||ORTS LLORET Felipe||ESP||C.C GUSANO||1h09´50.0"|
|20||40||SWEECK Diether||BEL||ERA REAL ESTATE - CIRCUS||1h10´14.0"|
|21||42||SÄGESSER Severin||SUI||FOCUS E.FLOCCARI CYCLOCROSS TE||1h10´17.0"|
|22||43||MILLBURN Garry||AUS||SPEEDVAGEN X MAAP-||1 r|
|23||16||BERTOLINI Gioele||ITA||GUERCIOTTI||1 r|
|24||23||BAESTAENS Vincent||BEL||VZW KONINKLIJKE STOEMPERSCLUB||1 r|
|25||31||HANSEN Kenneth||DEN||TEAM GIANT-ASSOS CX||1 r|
|26||17||ISERBYT Eli||BEL||MARLUX - NAPOLEON GAMES CYCLIN||2 r|
|27||39||SANDERSON Brody||CAN||CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM||2 r|
|28||37||O´DONNELL Trevor||CAN||CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM||3 r|
|29||34||MAEDA Kohei||JPN||JAPAN CYCLING FEDERATION||3 r|
|30||27||ERIKSSON Martin||SWE||ART-V CYCLING CLUB||3 r|
|31||41||JUILIANO Andrew||USA||GRIT WORLD RACING P/B SHIMANO||3 r|
|32||35||MC CRAE Erno||BEL||GOEMAN SCOTT CYCLING||3 r|
|33||26||DINIZ Nicholas||CAN||-||3 r|
|34||22||TAKENOUCHI Yu||JPN||TOYOFRAME||4 r|
|35||33||JANSSON Henrik||SWE||ART- V CYCLING CLUB||4 r|
|36||29||FORRESTER Alexander||GBR||WWW.ZEPNAT.COM - LAZER HELMETS||4 r|
|DNF||18||VANTHOURENHOUT Dieter||BEL||MARLUX - NAPOLEON GAMES CYCLIN|