Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) put on a final lap exhibition on home turf Sunday and won the Hoogerheide World Cup.
The battle for what remained of the podium saw a trio of Baloise Trek Lions in pursuit of the World Champion and Dutch champion Joris Nieuwenhuis closest for second place, just five seconds behind Van der Poel. Pim Ronhaar outsprinted teammate Thibau Nys for third.
World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) secured fifth, and held on to the series lead. The nine riders behind Van der Poel crossed the line under one minute behind.
“It was good, but I had to do it in a slightly different way,” Van der Poel said about winning in Hoogerheide, the last effort giving him the elite men’s rainbow jersey for a fifth time. “After I attack, I’m not that fresh as I was the rest of the season. But it’s normal, it’s a good sign. Last year [before Worlds] was a bit different, I only had one race on the weekend before.This year I had yesterday and today, a slightly different approach. I feel OK, I just need to rest and hopefully next week I will have my best legs of the season.”
European champion Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) was one of the big names that succumbed to the slippery surface in Hoogerheide as well as back-to-back races, saying “it’s difficult to recover from yesterday”, where he was runner-up to Van der Poel at X2O Trofee in Hamme. He took a tumble and finished 14th.
With blue skies overhead, what remained on the moist track made corners tricky to navigate. But before scampering away from the tarmac at the start, a tangle of wheels saw two teammates from Crelan-Corendon going down, with Witse Meeussen getting back up for a solo effort at the back, leaving Tom Meeussen as a DNF.
Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) saw daylight and hit the front of the field first, then Iserbyt took over at the mid-point of the opening lap which saw all riders strung out on the course. The World Champion rode in seventh position but moved behind Kevin Kuhn (Charles Liégeois Roastery CX) and into third place before the barriers.
On the second lap, a fresh Nieuwenhuis, who did not race Saturday, took charge at the front. On a corner just before the flyover, Jens Adams slipped out of the parade and away from the main group. Next on the mucky surface at the barriers, Ryan Kamp went down and in the process took out Vanthourenhout. The two remounted and went into chase mode.
Iserbyt and Van der Poel…