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How much more superior can Mathieu van der Poel be compared with the rest of the cyclocross peloton? At the X2O Trophy in Koksijde, the world champion continued his succession of trouncings, taking his ninth straight victory in an undefeated streak for the season.
In his other appearances this season, Van der Poel has prevailed by 1:55 in Baal, 12 seconds in Hulst, 39 in Loenhout, 49 in Diegem, 36 in Gavere, 29 in Antwerp, 1:17 in Mol, and 28 seconds in Herentals.
The gap was nearly as large in Koksijde after Van der Poel’s first-lap attack and power ride through the sand. Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek) continued his ascent in stature, taking second at 1:20 and holding off a late chase from Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike), who finished third at 1:38.
Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek) provided the most late-race excitement in his battle for the lower podium spot with Van Aert but had to relent when the Belgian put in his acceleration on the penultimate lap.
Up front van der Poel had time to high-five the crowd and celebrate his nine from nine winning streak.
“I went to the front at the end of lap 1 and I did two really good sand sections and I immediately had a really nice gap. I tried to take my own pace from the start because it’s a super tough race,” he said post-race.
“It’s difficult to recover now with the mud section between the sand sections which made it a really hard course.”
In the start line all eyes were on van der Poel and Van Aert, while Tom Pidcock (Ineos) was out with illness.
Van der Poel shot out fast from the green light but Van Aert got around to lead into the first sand climb. Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon) was keen to challenge and took the lead into the first trip over the dune.
Sweeck continued to lead as the other favourites seemed to not want to burn matches too early in such a tough parcours.
The hesitation wasn’t for long,…