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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) secured his fourth World Cup win in a row, soloing to the victory after a masterclass performance through the sand in Zonhoven.
The two teams that were dominant in numbers, Baloise Trek Lions and Crelan-Corendon, were no match for the World Champion, who made his winning move on the fourth of eight laps and extended his lead to 20 seconds as he crossed the line for the victory.
Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) won the race for second place, gaining a small gap as he entered the finishing straight away, forcing Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon) to settle for third. Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) finished fourth.
Toon Vandebosch (Crelan-Corendon) was initially among the chase group racing for second but a crash on the final sand descent saw him lose time and finish fifth at 59 seconds back. World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) struggled with the pace during this round of the series and finished in sixth at 1:11.
“I’m super happy with how this part of the cyclo-cross season went, but I’m also happy that I can go to Spain and work on the form again,” Van der Poel said afterwards, admitting that he raced more conservatively at the start in Zonhoven due to the colder temperatures.
“I wanted to see how the race developed. It was cold and took me a while before I got into my own rhythm. It’s a tough race, and I didn’t want to waste too much energy today.“
“I’m always happy to win, of course. I felt OK, and I’m happy I can go and do more training.”
How it unfolded
The men’s field lined up under bitterly cold temperatures for the 12th round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Zonhoven. Series overall leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) returned to competition after taking a week off to recover from a stomach illness and dehydration.
World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck),…