The Big Three went at it again on Saturday’s 11th round of the World Cup in Hulst, the Netherlands, mechanical problems hampering Tom Pidcock and Wout Van Aert. The Big Three turned out to be Mathieu van der Poel’s natural hat trick of 2023-2024 series victories, extending his 2023 win streak to nine races. Series leader Eli Iserbyt did not finish, so his gap at the top of the table shrank. The top Canadian was Ian Ackert at 45th.
The World Cup Situation Before Saturday
Tom Pidcock immediately got tangled in a crash on Lap 1‘s first corner, destroying his right shifter and rear derailleur. He had to carry his bike to the pits. Iserbyt seized the hole shot. Van der Poel and Van Aert bided their time. The string was still long going into the latter half of the first circuit. Laurens Sweeck led a line of 12 riders over the line. Ackert was 49th.
Wout Van Aert crashed with Ronhaar at the start of Lap 2 and had his chain come off, shifting him down to 27th. Pidcock was 78th. Van der Poel’s teammate Tibor del Grosso was the surprise leader of a quartet containing the world champion, Sweeck and Lars van der Haar. Iserbyt had faded back. Ronhaar and Ryan Kamp latched on before the line. Ackert had jumped up to 48th.
Van der Poel finally took the reins on Lap 3 of 8. As he surged clear, del Grosso blocked. Ronhaar and van der Haar rounded del Grosso and made their bid for the podium.
By the start of Lap 4, van der Poel was 14 seconds clear. Iserbyt was 20th, Van Aert 23rd and Pidcock 51st, just behind Ackert in 45th.
Lap 5 was where Joris Nieuwenhuis joined Ronhaar and van der Haar to create a Baloise Trek Lions chase trio 38 seconds back. Ackert raced at 47th.
Eli Iserbyt climbed off the bike on Lap 6. The three Baloise Trek Lions would all pull closer to Iserbyt in the World Cup table. Van Aert was now in the top-10.
By the penultimate lap, Pidcock had surfed his way up to 28th and he would finish 25th.
It would be Joris Nieuwenhuis who would distinguish himself among the Lions, and Ronhaar didn’t make the podium. Van Aert did well to take fifth.
The next round is next Sunday in Zonhoven, Belgium.
2023-2024 World Cup, Round…