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The Wout van Aert/Mathieu van der Poel season win ratio swung to 5-3 in Van Aert’s favour on Thursday at the Duinencross in Koksijde. The Belgian champion powered away from his Dutch rival midway through the race and soloed over the hilly, sandy course to a commanding victory. Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) was best of the rest in third.
Van der Poel started the race strongly but seemed to be favouring his back as Van Aert strode away but proved strong enough to hold onto second place more than a minute adrift. Although Van der Poel got the better of his Belgian nemesis in their first meeting at the Antwerp World Cup in early December, the Boxing Day World Cup in Gavere, and the X2O Trofee race in Herentals on Tuesday, Van Aert topped the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider in the Zilvermeercross, back-to-back Superprestige races (Zolder and Diegem) last month, Azencross in Loenhout and now the historic Koksijde Duinencross.
Van Aert made his move on lap 4 and never looked back, powering smoothly through the deep sand and increasingly greasy mud for another solo victory.
Van der Poel gave a small wave to the fans as he finished 1:38 behind, while Sweeck high-fived the crowed 2:06 behind in third.
The battle for the series played out behind, as Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) tried to get away from leader Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) but lost contact in the closing lap and lost another six seconds in the time-based GC.
How it unfolded
Light rain greeted the men’s field for the Duinencross in Koksijde, round 5 of the X2O Badkamers Trofee. Leader Iserbyt started with a 1:28 lead over Dutch champion Van der Haar but their battle for the general classification would play out well behind the two of the ‘big three’ of cyclocross – Belgian champion Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Tim Merlier had a very fast start to join the front of the cyclocross fray for the first time in his new Soudal-QuickStep kit, but it was Toon Vandenbosch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) who took the holeshot with Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) close behind. Van Aert and Van der Poel bided their time behind. In the absence of Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) who crashed in the GP Sven Nys on New Year’s Day, Sweeck emerged as the closest rival to the…