Last week, Mathieu van der Poel’s win streak was snapped at the Benidorm World Cup, as the world champion didn’t even finish on the podium despite astonishing displays of power. But on Saturday’s Flandriencross, the sixth round of the X2O Badkamers Trofee in Hamme, Belgium, van der Poel returned to winning ways. It was his fourth straight X2O Trofee victory and 160th career triumph. Fifth place Lars van der Haar retained the series lead.
The Situation Before Saturday
Without winning a round, Lars van der Haar led the standings with three races remaining. But he had to worry about the winner of the last three rounds, van der Poel, who was +3:33.
Cameron Jette was the lone Canadian at Hamme.
Van der Poel didn’t get a great start on Lap 1 as teammate Niels Vandeputte took the early lead. Michael Vantourenhout grabbed the reins. The string stayed long in the first half of the opening circuit. After the pits, Belgium champion Eli Iserbyt assumed Position 2 but it would be van der Poel who would be second over the line.
The order was Vanthourenhout, van der Poel, Iserbyt and van der Haar at the beginning of Lap 2. The pits were crowded in the changes. Van der Haar took over the front. The world champion was seemingly biding his time.
When would someone make a decisive move? On Lap 3 Vanthourenhout went back to the front.
Finally, on Lap 4 van der Poel slipped past Vanthourenhout and then powered through the mud. Only Vanthourenhout could tag along. The duo had a ten-second lead by the line.
How long could Vanthourenhout hang with van der Poel? By the end of Lap 5 the former was 9 seconds behind the latter. Vanthourenhout didn’t relent, yanking back a few seconds on Lap 6. Fifty-four seconds behind, the final podium spot was contested by Iserbyt, van der Haar, Vandeputte, Toon Vandebosche and Cameron Mason.
The podium battle was the only real contest to be decided on the bell lap. Vandeputte put the hammer down, but it would be Iserbyt who would distinguish himself in the quintet.
The major players in Hamme will meet again on Sunday in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands for the final round of the World Cup. Iserbyt is sure to claim the series.
The next X2O round is on February 12 in Lille.
2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 6, Hamme
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 58:13
2) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +0:16