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With a dominant display of power on the muddy and hilly circuit, van Aert took a dominant solo win at the Superprestige race in Spa-Francorchamps; Nys and Pauwels completed the podium while van Aert extended the overall lead

Photo: Photopress.be

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13.12.2015 @ 17:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout van Aert completed a perfect weekend in dominant style by riding to a convincing solo victory in the Superprestige race on the motor circuit in Spa-Francorchamps. The Belgian was in a class of his own on the muddy, hilly circuit and beat Sven Nys into second by more than a minute, with Kevin Pauwels completing the podium in third. Van Aert also extended his overall lead in the Superprestige series.

 

In recent week Wout van Aert has continued to clock up important victories but he has not been the same dominant figure as he was a few weeks ago. However, after spending one week training under the Spanish sun, it seems that the youngster is now back to his best.

 

Yesterday van Aert was in a class of his own in the Zilvermeercross and today he was even more impressive as he completely demolished the entire world elite at the Superprestige race in Spa-Francorchamps. The race which is held on the F1 circuit in the Belgian city, is known as one of the hardest on the calendar, featuring plenty of mud and hard climbing, and this played to van Aert’s superior power.

 

Van Aert waited slowly in the background on the first lap as he allowed world champion Mathieu van der Poel to set the pace. However, he already made his move on the second lap and from there the outcome was never really in doubt.

 

Van der Poel first tried to get back in contention and when he faded, Sven Nys tried to come back from a slow start. However, none of them managed to get any closer to van Aert who rode more than six laps as the lone leader before taking a dominant victory.

 

The battle for second place was a lot more exciting as a big group with most of the pre-race favourites quickly gathered behind van Aert. World champion van der Poel was the first to crack spectacularly and it looked like a small surprise was in store when Nys seemed to fade at the midpoint, opening the door for Thijs van Amerongen and a resurgent Klaas Vantornout to escape.

 

However, Nys was just playing games and in the final two laps he went full gas. Vantornout was the final rider to surrender and the veteran confirmed his good condition by riding to a comfortable second place. Vantornout looked like he was finally going to finish on the podium in a major race but his teammate Kevin Pauwels did a strong final lap and passed the Belgian champion just metres from the line.

 

With the win, van Aert now has 74 out of a maximum of 75 points in the Superprestige standings while Nys is second with 65 points. The sixth round in the eight-race series will be held on December 27 in Diegem.

 

The riders face another busy weekend next week as they will line up for the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Antwerp on Saturday while the World Cup race in Namur is scheduled for Sunday.

 

How it unfolded:

Laurens Sweeck took control just after the start and led the peloton into the first muddy section. However, he slid out in the first muddy section and it was Thijs van Amerconden who led Mathieu van der Poel as they ran up the main climb for the first time. Sweeck’s bad luck continued as he slipped again at the top of the ascent.

 

Van der Poel was the next to tumble as he hit the deck on a muddy descent which allowed van Amerongen to escape. Wout van Aert took control of the peloton while Sven Nys was off to a bad start, riding outside the top 10 positions.

 

Van Amerongen increased his advantage and had built a lead of around 9 seconds over a main group that included all the pre-race favourites. Van Aert was still setting the pace, with van der Poel, Corne van Kessel, David van der Poel and Klaas Vantornout following in the next positions.

 

Van Aert closed the gap as they hit the main climb for the second climb and he even passed the lone Dutchman. He got a small gap and even had time to make a bike change while still extending his lead over the peloton. Meanwhile, Nys was slowly moving up in the field.

 

Van der Poel realized that he had missed the boat and quickly passed van Amerongen and van Kessel, upping the pace significantly. The Telenet duo was unable to keep up with the world champion and soon it looked like it would be a battle between the two young archrivals.

 

At the end of the second lap, van Aert had an advantage of 10 seconds over van der Poel while Nys took over the pace-setting in the peloton 5 seconds further adrift. The veteran used the hard climb to the finish to pass several riders, bringing Lars van der Haar to the front in the process. Sweeck was still trying to get back after his crashes and was trailing the main group by a few seconds.

 

Van der Poel was slowly closing the gap while Nys was still trying to get back in contention, followed by Vantornout, van der Haar and Kevin Pauwels. But again van Aert showed his superior running skills and extended his advantage to 20 seconds as they ran up the climb for the third time.

 

Nys and Vantornout made the difference on the climb and shortly after the descent they had rejoined van der Poel. Van der Haahr, Pauwels, van Kessel, van Amerongen and Tom Meeusen were the next to make the junction.

 

At the end of the third lap, van Aert had extended his advantage to 25 seconds. Nys was still doing all the work in the chase group and as he accelerated hard on the climb to the finish, van der Poel spectacularly cracked, moving to the right-hand side of the road and shaking his head. Meanwhile, Nys’ fast pace was too much for the three Telenet riders and the chase group was down to just the veteran, Vantornout, van der Haar and Pauwels.

 

As they ran up the climb for the fourth time, van der Haar stumbled and this created a gap behind Nys and Vantornout. At the same time, the Telenet trio regained contact and it was van Amerongen who took over the pace-setting. Further back, van der Poel’s bad race continued as he crashed in a muddy descent, losing more ground to his key rivals.

 

Nys had not got any help for more than a lap and when they hit the finishing straight at the halfway, he swung off, leaving it to Meeusen who hit the front after the chase group had come back together. However, they were now 50 seconds behind the dominant van Aert.

 

Meeusen set the pace as they tackled the fifth lap while Nys showed signs of fatigue as they ran up the climb. Meanwhile, van der Poel was constantly losing ground and was no longer in contention.

 

As they hit the finishing straight, Meeusen ended his work and it was van Amerongen who took over. However, the group was clearly focused on the battle for second as they were now 1.18 behind.

 

Van Aert made a rare mistake as he stumbled on the main climb but he was quickly back on his feet. Meanwhile, van Amerongen had created a small gap and was in lone pursuit of van Aert. Vantornout used the climb to bridge the gap, creating a chase duo. Van der Haar and Meeusen were both dropped and immediately lost a lot of ground.

 

At the start of the penultimate lap, van Aert had an advantage of 1.15 over van Amerongen and Vantornout. Nys made a big acceleration on the climb leading to the finish and started the lap 5 seconds later alongside van Kessel. Pauwels had dropped back to Meeusen and van der Haar who had been caught by Toon Aerts.

 

Nys and van Kessel quickly bridged the gap to Vantornout and van Amerongen and the veteran went straight to the front to apply the pressure. As they hit the climb, van Amerongen and van Kessel were dropped and it was Nys and Vantornout that were riding away with the minor podium spots.

 

Nys set a pretty hard pace but at the start of the final lap, he had only reduced the gap to 1.14. He didn’t slow down at all though and as Vantornout made a small mistake in the first muddy section, the veteran dropped the Belgian champion. He quickly lost a lot of ground and it became apparent that only disaster would prevent Nys from claiming second.

 

In the front, van Aert was in cruise control and just sure to avoid any major mistakes. He had plenty of time to encourage the fans as he hit the finishing straight to claim his fourth win out of five in the Superprestige series, even walking across the line with his bike in his hands. Nys comfortably rode to second while Pauwels made an incredibly comeback in the final lap to pass Vantornout just metres from the line and claim the final spot on the podium. The Telenet trio of van Kessel, Aerts and van Amerongen were next, followed by van der Haar, while a disappointed van der Poel didn’t even finish in the top 10.

 

Result:

1. Wout van Aert

2. Sven Nys +1.04

3. Kevin Pauwels +1.13

4. Klaas Vantornout +1.16

5. Corne van Kessel +1.29

6. Toon Aerts +1.30

7. Thijs van Amerongen +1.33

8. Lars van der Haar +1.42

9. Tom Meeusen +2.09

10. Tim Merlier +2.46

 

Overall standings:

1. Wout van Aert 74

2. Sven Nys 65

3. Kevin Pauwels 63

4. Lars van der Haar 55

5. Klaas Vantornout 45

6. Laurens Sweeck 38

7. Tim Merlier 33

8. Rob Peeters 28

9. Corne van Kessel 26

10. Tom Meeusen 24

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