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On a snowy, fast course under the lights, van der Poel benefited from a mistake by van der Haar to distance his rivals in the Superprestige race in Diegem, winning the race and taking the overall lead

Photo: John de Jong

CYCLO-CROSS

NEWS

KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MATHIEU VAN DER POEL

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

SUPERPRESTIGE

NEWS

TOM MEEUSEN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
28.12.2014 @ 18:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mathieu van der Poel put himself in a good position to win the Superprestige series in his first year at the elite level when he took a beautiful win in the race in Diegem. Having benefited from a technical mistake from Lars van der Haar, he launched a big attack that allowed him to take a solo victory while Tom Meeusen beat Kevin Pauwels in the sprint to take second.

 

At the start of the season, Mathieu van der Poel made it clear that his big goal in the elite races would be to try to do as well as possible in the Superprestige series. With a good start to the season, he went into today’s race in Diegem in second overall and was in a good position to take the overall victory in his first attempt.

 

Today he took over the lead when he won the prestigious race that was held on a fast, frozen and snowy course near Brussels. Already on the first lap, he showed his intentions when his acceleration created a front trio consisting of the talented Dutchman, Tom Meeusen and Lars van der Haar.

 

Corne van Kessel, Philipp Walsleben and David van der Poel all managed to join the leaders and for the rest of the race, it was a battle between the six leaders. Despite the many attacks – Walsleben was very aggressive – no one was able to make a difference and it was the many mistakes on the slippery course that created the selection.

 

The dramatic highlight came when van der Haar tried to accelerate with a little more than two laps to go. The Dutch champion went two fast through a very difficult corner and when he hit the deck, it allowed van der Poel to get a gap. He was quick to exploit the situation and at the start of the penultimate lap, he was already more than 10 seconds ahead.

 

Van der Haar rejoined the chasers and took a lot of risks which allowed him to gradually get closer to the leader. However, he went too fast through the same corner again and when he hit again went down, it was clear that van der Poel would win the race.

 

Overall leaderKevin Pauwels had got his race off to a disastrous start and at the end of the third lap, he was already 45 seconds behind. However, he made an excellent comeback, gradually jumping from group to group and at the start of the final lap, he was in the first chase group.

 

Meeusen rode very fast in the final lap and only Pauwels was able to keep up with the Telenet-Fidea rider. Those two riders ended up sprinting for second but a fatigued Pauwels was clearly on the limit and had to settle for third while van der Haahr fought back from his crashes to take fourth.

 

The race marked Sven Nys’ return to competition but nothing suggests that the Belgian champion is getting better. Losing ground throughout the entire race, he gave up in the final part and rolled across the line to finish outside the top 15.

 

With the win, van der Poel took the overall lead in the Superprestige series and he now leads Pauwels by a single point. Van der Haar is only one point further adrift in third. . Only two rounds are left, with the overall winner to be found after the races in Hoogstraten and Middelkerke on February 8 and 14 respectively.

 

How it unfolded:

Lars van der Haar sprinted down the paved finishing straight but when the riders hit the first snow, it was Tom Meeusen who had taken the lead. Meanwhile, his teammate Bart Wellens had already been set back by a mechanical and he was running down the paved road, far behind the rest of the field.

 

Having run up a long climb, Mathieu van der Poel hit the front and his fast pace split the main group. While several riders were suffering, only Meeusen and van der Haar could keep up with the talented Dutchman.

 

Corne van Kessel led the chase in the peloton while Sven Nys did not seem to have benefited from his racing break as he was riding outside the top 10 position, with Kevin Pauwles riding even further back.

 

As they neared the end of the first lap, Philipp Walsleben hit the front of the field and he made it across to the three leaders. A small mistake in a slippery corner saw both van der Poel and van der Haar fall back, meaning that Meeusen and Walsleben were the leaders at the end of the first lap, with van der Poel following in third at 2 seconds. Van der Haar, Sacha Weber and van Kessel were next at 5 seconds while Nys had lost more than 10 seconds and Pauwels was already more than 30 seconds behind.

 

Van der Poel managed to rejoin the leaders and a few moments later, van der Haar also made it across. Meanwhile, both Weber and van Kessel were losing ground while the peloton was getting further distanced.

 

Walsleben briefly got a small gap but Meeusen was quick to shut it down. Meanwhile, van Kessel had gone back up to speed and was approaching the leaders.

 

In a slippery turn, Meeusen and van der Poel slid out which caused both van der Haar and van der Poel to lose contact. At the next passage of the line, Walsleben and Meeusen were 3 seconds ahead of their chasers while van Kessel were just 2 seconds further back. David van der Poel was next while Klaas Vantornout was with teammate Gianni Vermeersch a bit further back. Nys had almost lost 30 seconds while Pauwels was at 45 seconds.

 

As Walsleben slowed down, Meeusen hit the front but the slower pace allowed van der Poel, van der Haar and van Kessel made the junction. As they slowed even further down, David van der Poel also got across.

 

Walsleben made a big acceleration in a fast section and briefly got a small gap. Meanwhile, Meeusen fell off the pace as he seemed to suffer after he had taken a big turn on the front.

 

Van der Haar closed to gap to Walsleben which again prompted the pace to go down. Walsleben again saw an opportunity to attack but van der Haar was quick to respond.

 

Van der Haar led the group across the line at the end of the third lap when Meeusen was 5 seconds behind. A small group with Vantornout was 17 seconds behind while Nys was leading the first big group that had now been joined by Pauwels, 25 seconds behind the leaders.

 

The next rider to make a mistake was van Kessel which allowed Meeusen to pass his teammate. The latter rejoined the leaders while van Kessel was desperately trying to close the small gap.

 

As David van der Poel hit the front, van Kessel rejoined the leaders, meaning that the front group was back up to 6 riders. Van der Haar decided that it was time to test his rivals but his acceleration didn’t produce the desired outcome.

 

Pauwels had now recovered from his bad start and he was moving up through the ranks. At the next passage of the line, he was 22 seconds behind, with Nys following 2 seconds further behind. The nearest chasers were Joeri Adams, Vermeersch, Vantornout and Vincent Baestaens who were at 13 seconds.

 

David van der Poel set a pretty slow pace in the first part of the next lap before Walsleben made another big attack. Meanwhile, Vermeersch dropped back to help his teammate Pauwels rejoin the Vantornout group.

 

Meeusen closed the gap to Walsleben and while he rode on the front, Mathieu van der Poel was dropped after he swapped bikes in the pit. However, the pace was pretty slow and this allowed the overall Superprestige leader to rejoin the group.

 

The group was still together when the crossed the line at the end of the fifth lap. However, the Pauwels-Vantornout had lost ground and was not 20 seconds behind while Nys was on his own, 25 seconds further back.

 

As several riders swapped bikes in the pit, drama unfolded. Van Kessel simply missed his bike while David van der Poel hit van Kessel’s old bike, meaning that both riders got dropped and lost around 10 seconds.

 

Pauwels was now going full gas and only Vantornout and Adams could keep up with him. Meanwhile, van der Haar was putting in another attack in the front trio but van der Poel, Walsleben and Meeusen managed to stay on his wheel.

 

Pauwels had Vantornout riding on his limit and in a slippery turn, the lanky Belgian made a mistake. He hit the deck and even though he was quickly back on his bike, he had to watch while Pauwels and Adams disappeared.

 

Van der Haar set the pace but in a slippery turn, he slid out and hit the deck hard. Van der Poel was quick to exploit the situation and immediately created a gap to Meeusen and Walsleben. Van der Haar got back on his bike but was now behind van Kessel and van der Poel.

 

At the start of the penultimate lap, van der Poel was 7 seconds ahead of Meeusen and Walsleben while van Kessel and van der Poel were at 13 seconds. van der Haar had been caught by Pauwels and Adams but they were almost 20 seconds behind.

 

The penultimate lap developed into a fierce pursuit, with Meeusen desperately trying to catch van der Poel. Despite taking lots of risks, he constantly lost ground though and instead van der Haar, van der Poel and van Kessel rejoined the chasers.

 

Van der Haar immediately split the chase group as only David van der Poel could match his speed. Walsleben and Meeusen were next while van Kessel had been joined by Pauwels and Adams.

 

Van der Haar took lots of risks and he seemed to gradually close the gap when he slid out in the same corner that had seen him go down one lap earlier. This allowed van Walsleben and Meeusen to rejoin the chasers and a little later van der Haar and Pauwels also made the junction.

 

At the start of the final lap, the gap was 22 seconds and van der Poel was still riding smoothly, taking the minimum amount of risks. Behind, Walsleben was setting the pace until his teammate David van der Poel attacked.

 

Walsleben paid the price for his hard work and when Meeusen took over the pace-setting, the German champion got dropped. Moments later, van der Poel also lost contact before van der Haar was a surprise victim.

 

Meeusen took a lot of risks and while Pauwels was glued to his wheel, he got closer to the lone leader. However, it was all in vain as van der Poel safely negotiated the final part of the circuit to take a convincing win.

 

Meeusen beat Pauwels in the sprint to take second while van der Haar rolled across the line in fourth. David van Poel and Adams were fifth and sixth respectively while Walsleben, van Kessel, Baestans or Vermeersch completed the top 10. Vantornout finished just outside the top 10 while Nys rolled across the line outside the top 15.

 

Result:

1. Mathieu van der Poel

2. Tom Meeusen

3. Kevin Pauwels

4. Lars van der Haar

5. David van der Poel

6. Jens Adams

7. Philipp Walsleben

8. Corne van Kessel

9. Vincent Baestaens

10. Gianni Vermeersch

 

Overall standings:

1. Mathieu van der Poel 77

2. Kevin Pauwels 76

3. Lars van der Haar 75

4. Tom Meeusen 72

5. Klaas Vantornout 64

6. Sven Nys 60

7. Corne van Kessel 45

8. Jens Adams 41

9. Philippe Walsleben 31

10. Bart Aernouts 28

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