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After the disappointment at yesterday’s race in Essen, van der Poel got his revenge when he overcame more bad luck to win the Druivencross in Overijse; Pauwels was second and Meeusen third

Photo: Thomas Nyhus / Rawshooter

CYCLO-CROSS

NEWS

KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MATHIEU VAN DER POEL

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOM MEEUSEN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
06.12.2015 @ 16:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mathieu van der Poel got his revenge after his big disappointment in yesterday’s Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen when he claimed a dominant first win of the season at the Druivencross in Overijse. The world champion bounced back from more bad luck when he unclipped at the start and dropped his chain while leading the race, ultimately distancing Kevin Pauwels and Tom Meeusen who completed the podium.

 

A bad knee injury sustained at the Tour de l’Avenir made the start to the 2015-2016 cyclo-cross season a testing one for world champion Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutchman had to postpone his debut for a long time and only did his first race in Koksijde two weeks ago.

 

However, van der Poel has quickly gone back up to speed and he has been getting closer and closer to that elusive first victory. Yesterday only disaster prevented him from opening his account when his derailleur broke down while he was leading the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen solo.

 

Van der Poel made it clear that he wanted to get his revenge in today’s Druivencross in Overijse which is one of the oldest races on the calendar but not part of any of the major race series. In the absence of Sven Nys and Wout van Aert, the door was open for the world champion to take his first win and he fully lived up to his status as favourite, taking a dominant solo win.

 

However, the race turned out to be much closer than it could have been as van der Poel was set back by lots of bad luck. Already at the start he had to unclip as soon as the flag was dropped and he found himself in 15th positions while his three key rivals Kevin Pauwels, Tom Meeusen and Michael Vanthourenhout rode away from the rest.

 

Van der Poel spent the first few laps in chase mode but finally made it back to the front alongside Pauwels who had briefly lost contact due to a crash. Tim Merlier also made the junction, meaning that a front quintet had gathered at the midpoint of the race.

 

While Meeusen and Vanthourenhout took turns at setting the pace, van der Poel used a few moments to recover before he made what looked like the race-winning move. Meeusen hung onto his wheel for some time but finally had to surrender.

 

That’s when disaster struck and it was hard not to have a feeling of déjà vu when lone leader van der Poel suddenly found himself standing on the ground, desperately trying to get his chain back on. When he was finally riding again, he had been passed by Vanthourenhout and Meeusen and found himself in chase mode again.

 

Together with Pauwels, he made it back to the front group and the superior world champion couldn’t be held back. He didn’t wait long before making his next attack and again no one could follow. From there, it was clear that only another case of misfortunate could prevent him from winning the race but that never occurred. Van der Poel went into cruise control and made it safely through the final laps to take the win.

 

In the battle for second, Meeusen initially had the upper hand but he paid for his effort to try to stay with van der Poel. He was quickly passed by Pauwels who rode safely around the difficult circuit to secure second place ahead of Meeusen, with Tim Merlier and a resurgent Klaas Vantornout completing the podium.

 

The next major cyclo-cross race takes place next Sunday when the next round of the Superprestige series is held in Spa-Francorchamps.

 

How it unfolded:

Michael Vanthourenhout was eager to continue his run of success after yesterday’s third place and immediately took control as the peloton sprinted out of the starting gates. He was followed by Julien Taramarcaz while world champion Mathieu van der Poel had to unclip and found himself riding in 15th position.

 

Vanthourenhout’s fast pace was enough to split the field and the young Belgian soon found himself as the lone leader. At the end of the first lap, he already had an advantage of 21 seconds over van der Poel who was trying to get up to speed after his slow start.

 

Tom Meeusen, Julien Taramarcaz and Corne van Kessel managed to rejoin Vanthourenhout during the second lap, creating a strong front quartet. Kevin Pauwels and Tim Merlier chasing a little further back while van der Poel was getting closer to the leader.

 

Halfway through the lap, Meeusen took over the pace-setting, creating a split behind Vanthourenhout as Taramarcaz and van Kessel were left behind. They were both caught by Pauwels who had dropped Merlier to form a chase trio. Van der Poel made the junction before they ended the second lap where the gap to the two leaders was 10 seconds.

 

In the third lap, Pauwels managed to bridge the gap to Vanthourenhout and Meeusen. Van der Poel took a short moment to recover from his effort before he hit the front of the chase group and quickly distance his three companions, van Kessel, Taramarcaz and Merlier. Meanwhile, it was still Vanthourenhout applying the pressure in the front group.

 

Halfway through the lap, Meeusen accelerated again and he immediately dropped Pauwels who fell back to van der Poel. The gap went out again as Meeusen and Vanthourenhout powered up the tough climb in Overijse.

 

At the end of the third lap, Meeusen and Vanthourenhout had a lead of 8 seconds over van der Poel and Pauwels while van Kessel and Merlier were next at 16 seconds. Taramarcaz and Klaas Vantornout were 7 seconds further adrift.

 

Meeusen continued to ride on the front of the leading duo but as van der Poel took over the pace-setting in the chase group, the gap started to narrow. Halfway through the lap, the junction was made and for the first time, the world champion found himself in the lead group as part of a quartet led by Meeusen.

 

Vanthourenhout again hit the front as van der Poel moved into second position and Pauwels clearly struggled to keep up with his three companions. Further back, van Kessel had dropped Merlier and was slowly making his way back to the front.

 

On a tricky descent, disaster struck for Pauwels as he went down in a harmless crash, bringing the chasing van Kessel down in the process. As a consequence, the leading group was down to a trio at the end of the fourth lap where van der Poel led his companions across the line, 6 seconds ahead of Pauwels ad 10 seconds ahead of van Kessel and Merlier.

 

Van der Poel made an attack as soon as they hit the climb and he immediately put Vanthourenhout into difficulty. Meeusen did his best to hang onto the world champion but finally had to surrender as a gap of a few seconds opened up.

 

Meeusen had no intention to give up and for a long time the gap stayed at just a few seconds. However, van der Poel proved to be the strongest as Meeusen finally had to slow down and the gap started to widen.

 

That’s when one got the feeling of déjà vu. For the second day in a row, van der Poel had a mechanical while riding in a leading position. The world champion dropped his chain and before he was back on his bike, he had been passed by Vanthourenhout and Meeusen. He joined forces with Pauwels and the pair found themselves with a deficit of 5 seconds at the end of the fifth lap, with Merlier following just 2 seconds further adrift and Vantornout at 16 seconds.

 

Merlier caught van der Poel and Pauwels as they started the next lap. The world champion paced his two Belgian companions back to the front and it was front quintet that had formed halfway through the lap. Meanwhile, Vantornout was gradually getting closer to the front.

 

Vanthourenhout set the pace for most of the lap until van der Poel accelerated as they approached the end. He immediately got a gap, proving his superiority on the climb. Again Meeusen was the final rival to surrender, crossing the line 4 seconds behind the lone leader, with Pauwels and Vanthourenhout following at 8 seconds and Merlier and Vantornout at 18 seconds.

 

Pauwels quickly made it back to Meeusen whom he dropped during the next lap. He did well to keep van der Poel at a reasonable distance but the gap had still gone out to 11 seconds at the start of the penultimate lap. Meeusen was fading and was now 26 seconds behind while Vanthourenhout had cracked completely, was passed by Vantournout and Merlier and now found himself 52 seconds behind.

 

From there, it was a van der Poel show and the world champion had extended his advantage over Pauwels to 17 seconds at the start of the final lap, with Meeusen following at 33 seconds. He went into cruise control to make sure that he took the first of the year, with Pauwels and Meeusen completing the podium. Merlier beat Vantornout in the sprint for fourth while Gianni Vermeersch managed to pass the fading Vanthourenhout to take sixth.

 

Result:

1. Mathieu van der Poel

2. Kevin Pauwels

3. Tom Meeusen

4. Tim Merlier

5. Klaas Vantornout

6. Gianni Vermeersch

7. Michael Vanthourenhout

8. Corne van Kessel

9. Marcel Meisen

10. Toon Aerts

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