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Van Aert beats Nys after great duel in Essen

After another great Nys-Van Aert duel, Van Aert came out on top in the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen, with Vanthourenhout completing the podium; a disastrous mechanical took van der Poel out of a winning position

CYCLO-CROSS

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MICHAEL VANTHOURENHOUT

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WOUT VAN AERT

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05.12.2015 @ 16:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout Van Aert continued his successful season when he came out on top in the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen after another great duel with Sven Nys. The pair stayed together throughout most of the race and the youngster held off the veteran in the final muddy section to continue his clean sweep of the Bpost Bank Trofee series, with Michael Vanthourenhout completing the podium. For world champion Mathieu van der Poel, the race ended as a disaster as he suffered a mechanical while riding in a winning position.

 

In the first part of the season, Wout Van Aert was completely unrivalled on the cyclo-cross scene but in the final few weeks, Sven Nys has proved to be a worthy rival. After the veteran won the World Cup race in Koksijde with a strong acceleration in the finale, the youngster came out on top in another great duel last week in Hamme-Zogge.

 

Today the pair again had the chance to lock horns in the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen which is known as one of the hardest events of the entire season. Mud and rain made the course even tougher and set the scene for a battle between the strongest and again it came down to a fight between the two Belgians.

 

Like last week it was Van Aert who came out on top but it was actually a Dutchman who looked like the strongest rider in the race. World champion Mathieu van der Poel is slowly building his condition and today it looked like he would get his first win of the season.

 

After Van Aert and Nys had escaped in the early part of the race, van der Poel had rejoined the duo alongside Gianni Vermeersch and he would spend most of the time on the front of the leading quartet. Just after the midpoint, he dropped his rivals and opened an advantage of more than 5 seconds.

 

Van Aert and Nys both took turns as they tried to get back to the world champion but were not gaining any ground when disaster struck for the man in the rainbow jersey. A very untimely mechanical left him with a broken bike and a long run to the pit area. When he was finally riding again, he was outside the top 5 and no longer in contention for the win.

 

That incident turned the race into another Nys-Van Aert duel and it was the veteran who tried to get rid of the youngster for most of the time. However, Van Aert stayed glued to Nys’ wheel until he hit the front as they started the final lap.

 

Van Aert was apparently unable to drop the cannibal and it became clear that it would come down to the muddy section just before the finishing straight. Here Nys made his expected move but Van Aert was able to respond, opening a small gap as he hit the tarmac while Nys shook his head in frustration. Michael Vanthourenhout again showed that he is a real mud expert by dropping his team leader Kevin Pauwels in the final lap and so completed the podium. A disappointed van der Poel lost more than a minute in 8th place while Zdenek Stybar was far off the pace in the only race of his season, crossing the line far from the top 10 positions.

 

With the win, Van Aert extended his overall lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee series and he now has a buffer of 3.19 over Pauwels in second. Nys who abandoned the Koppenbergcross and so has lost lots of time, moved into third at 6.46.

 

The fifth race in the series takes place in Antwerp on December 19. The next major race is tomorrow’s Druivencross in Overijse which is not part of any of the three big race series.

 

How it unfolded:

Tom Meeusen sprinted out of the starting gate to take the early lead but the pace was relatively slow as they the paloton tackled the first part of the lap. Sven Nys had started well too and was riding in second position, riding in the same position when Corne van Kessel took over the pace-setting.

 

Nys waited patiently behind van Kessel until he slowly started to accelerate in the harder section. Only van Kessel and Wout van Aert could follow him as a split appeared in front of Tom Meeusen.

 

Mathieu van der Poel realized that he had missed the boat and moved straight to the front of the peloton which he split to pieces. Meanwhile, van Kessel was dropped from the front group and instead van der Poel made the junction halfway through the second lap.

 

Nys continued to ride on the front and made another acceleration a just as Gianni Vermeersch was about to make the junction. At the end of the second lap, the Sunweb was still 3 seconds behind while van Kessel and Meeusen led a bigger group that included Kevin Pauwels, 10 seconds behind. Zdenek Stybar was riding in a big group, more than 30 seconds adrift.

 

While Rob Peeters crashed while he tried to bunny hop the barriers, Nys briefly distanced van der Poel and van Aert but the world champion closed the gap. Vermeersch also made the junction to make it a front quartet halfway through the third lap.

 

Van der Poel finally took over the pace-setting from Nys and he immediately made an acceleration which put van Aert and Vermeersch under pressure. At the end of the lap, van der Poel and Nys had distanced by Aert by 4 seconds while Vermeersch was a few seconds further adrift. Michael Vanthourenthout and Laurens Sweeck had escaped from the big chasing group which was splitting with Pauwels losing even more ground.

 

Van Aert used his diesel engine to rejoin the leaders and he went straight to the front before the fighting Vermeersch also made it back. The youngster even managed to pass van Aert who was clearly suffering under van der Poel’s fast pace. Meanwhile, Sweeck and Vanthourenhout were slowly getting closer.

 

At the end of the lap, van der Poel made another big attack and he had a very small advantage at the passage of the line. Nys distanced his companions as he tried to make it back. Further back, Vanthourenhout had dropped Sweeck who was now with Meeusen, Tim Merlier and an improving Pauwels.

 

Nys was the first to rejoin the world champion and it didn’t take long for van Aert to make the junction too. Finally, Vermeersch also made it back while Vanthourenhout was also close to making the junction.

 

In the difficult section just before the line, van Aert suddenly made his first big attack of the race. As he crossed the line, he and van der Poel had distanced Nys by 2 seconds while Vermeersch was now with Vanthourenout just 4 seconds further back.

 

Nys quickly made it back to the front group as van Aert continued to set the pace while Vanthourenhout took over the pace-setting in the chase group. Further back, Pauwels had slowly gone up to speed and alongside Merlier and Meeusen he was also getting closer to the front.

 

Van der Poel set the pace for most of the time during the next lap and accelerated further just before the passage of the line where he had distanced his two companions by 3 seconds. Vanthourenhout was next, just a few seconds further back while Vermeersch was now pacing his team leader Pauwels, Meeusen and Merlier.

 

Van der Poel slowly increased his advantage while Nys stayed on Van Aert’s wheel. The furious pace set by the world champion meant that Vanthourenhout was losing a lot of ground and it was clear that the battle was down to three riders.

 

When the gap had gone out to more than 5 seconds, Nys passed Van Aert as he tried to make it back to the lone leader. Further back, Pauwels had bridged the gap to Vanthourenhout who was now working for his team leader.

 

Nys didn’t get much closer to van der Poel but then disaster struck for the world champion. Suddenly, he was left standing with a broken bike and had to run for a long time to get to the pit area. As a consequence, he dropped far back and when he finally got a new bike, he was outside the top 5.

 

Instead, Nys and van Aert took over the lead and it was the veteran who set the pace all the time. They kept Vanthourenhout and Pauwels at around 20 seconds while the U23 world champion was doing the work for his captain.

 

At the start of the final lap, the gap was 22 seconds and the front duo was preparing themselves for the final battle. Shortly after the passage of the line, Van Aert hit the front while Pauwels had had enough support and started to set the pace himself.

 

Van Aert set the pace during the final lap while Nys saved his energy for a final acceleration. He made his move in the final muddy section but was unable to get past the youngster who reached the finishing straight in first positon with a small advantage. Nys surrendered immediately, giving Van Aert time to sit up to celebrate his win. Vanthourenhout dropped Pauwels in the final lap to take third while a disappointed van der Poel had to settle for 8th.

 

Result:

1. Wout Van Aert 1.00.12

2. Sven Nys +0.07

3. Michael Vanthourenhout +0.29

4. Kevin Pauwels +0.35

5. Gianni Vermeersch +0.46

6. Tom Meeusen +0.48

7. Laurens Sweeck +0.58

8. Mathieu van der Poel +1.11

9. Tim Merlier +1.15

10. Corne van Kessel +1.32l

 

Overall standings:

1. Wout Van Aert 3.56.34

2. Kevin Pauwels +3.19

3. Sven Nys +6.46

4. Tom Meeusen +7.39 m

5. Corne van Kessel +7.53

6. Lars van der Haar +8.10

7. Gianni Vermeersch +8.59

8. Julien Taramarcaz +8.50

9. Laurens Sweeck +9.02

10. Tim Merlier +9.08

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