Mathieu van der Poel continued his winning streak in Thursday’s fifth round of the 2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee, going nine for nine in the season and taking his 12th consecutive cyclocross victory in sandy Koksijde, Belgium. Originally, the Vlaamse Duinencross in Koksijde was supposed to be another summit of the Big Three, but Tom Pidcock was missing through illness. Wout van Aert raced to third place. Fourth place Lars van der Haar extended his series lead.
Earlier in the day Ian Ackert had been the top Canadian in the U23 race.
The Situation Before Thursday
In Monday’s Baal round, Eli Iserbyt climbed off his bike, giving van der Haar a bigger time buffer at the top of the standings. Iserbyt also missed Koksijde through illness.
Right away on Lap 1, van Aert and van der Poel went to the front. Laurens Sweeck seized the reins. Michael Vanthourenhout was keeping close tabs on this trio. Series leader van der Haar was rather far down the string. Van der Poel was champing at the bit, and off he dashed midway through the lap. Van Aert scrambled to stay close. Pim Ronhaar was the closest pursuer by the line, seven seconds back.
Ronhaar wouldn’t relent on Lap 2, keeping ahead of the large Wout van Aert chase group and keeping the gap to the world champion at seven seconds.
Van der Haar improved his position going into Lap 3 of 7. He carried on with van Aert, Vanthourenhout and Gianni Vermeersch. Ronhaar lost 10 seconds to the race leader.
Van Aert had some trouble hanging with van der Haar and Vermeersch on Lap 4. Ronhaar’s one-man chase campaign was 31 seconds in arrears of the fellow in the rainbow jersey.
With a dollop of mud on his nose, van der Haar dropped van Aert and Vermeersch on Lap 5. The Visma-Lease a Bike rider worked to close the gap.
Van Aert came across to van der Haar on the penultimate lap and the podium scrap heated up. Van Aert started to pull away as Vermeersch edged closer.
With the wind in his sails, could van Aert catch Ronhaar on the bell lap? Pim could feel the heat and dug in deep to keep the runner-up spot. Another race, another victory celebration for van der Poel.
The next round is January 27 in Hamme.
2023-2024 X2O Badkamers Trofee, Round 5, Koksijde
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 59:23