Gallery: A hat-trick in Valkenburg

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Merlier and van der Haar

After Lars van der Haar grabbed the holeshot, Tim Merlier went to the front. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert

Wout van Aert had a solid start, as Mathieu van der Poel (background) had a few places to make up. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Landscape

The crowds were out in force in Valkenburg. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Hyde

American Stephen Hyde rode in the top five in the early minutes of the race. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van der Poel and Merlier

Once van der Poel made it to the front on lap one, he hit the accelerator. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: BoroŠ

Michael BoroŠ (Czech Republic) comes to grief on the muddy course. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert and van der Poel

Van Aert and van der Poel left everyone else behind on lap one. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Irish fans

The Irish fans were dressed up as leprechauns on Sunday. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert

Van Aert set off alone on lap two, capitalizing on a mistake by van der Poel. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van der Poel

After losing contact with van Aert, van der Poel struggled to find a solid rhythm again. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Landscape

Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert

As hosts of the 2018 world cyclocross championships, the region of Limburg did not disappoint in creating a world-class course in Valkenburg. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images (File).

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van der Poel and Vanthourenhout

Vanthourenhout caught and then passed van der Poel midway through the race to move into the silver medal spot. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Sweeck

Laurens Sweeck finished the day in eighth. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Bertolini

Gioele Bertolini came out of nowhere to finish sixth on the day. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert

Three times champion of the world in cyclocross. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Vanthourenhout emotion

Vanthourenhout was full of emotion as he captured the silver medal. He is a former under-23 world cyclocross champion. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert and girlfriend

Van Aert high-fives his girlfriend after crossing the line. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van der Poel

Van der Poel had a lonely ride down the finishing straight toward the bronze medal. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert celebration

Yes! Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Podium ceremony

The sun had mostly set when the elite men’s podium finally began. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

World Championships Valkenburg, Men Elite: Van Aert champagne

The sweet taste of victory. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images