Wout van Aert won the fifth round of the Superprestige series in Gavere, as Mathieu van der Poel suffered a puncture while leading on the

Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) claimed victory at the fifth round of the Superprestige series in Gavere, Belgium on Sunday, as Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) suffered a final lap mechanical while leading and had to settle for third on the day. Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea) was able to hold off van der Poel after passing him, to finish second.

As he has done at most races this season, van der Poel looked to be on cruise-control, entering the final lap with a comfortable lead. However, disaster would strike the newly crowned European champion. He suffered a rear mechanical and was forced to stop. While attempting to fix the problem, riders passed him. First, it was van Aert. Then Aerts and Klass Vantornhout (Marlux-Napolean Games) also went past. Once van der Poel got going again, he was able to re-pass Vantornhout to salvage a spot on the podium.


Having won four of the five Superprestige rounds this season, van der Poel entered the race the heavy favorite. Barring a mechanical or a crash, when the Dutchman has ridden a clean race he has been far and away superior to the rest of the riders. The elite men got off to a quick start in Gavere and van der Poel took the lead early and put down the power. However, Van Aert looked to be up for a fight in the muddy conditions, staying with van der Poel through the opening lap.

That would be all van Aert could manage though, as van der Poel left the world champion behind on lap two. The course conditions had worsened since the elite women’s race, which saw Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea) take the victory over Nikki Brammeier. The elite women only raced four laps and the elite men’s race would be a mere seven laps.

A combination of van Aert possibly suffering from too fast a start and Aerts finding his rhythm, saw the Telenet Fidea rider pass the world champion and move into second place. Aerts actually began to chip into van der Poels lead. At the end of the third lap, Aerts was 19 seconds behind van der Poel with van Aert a further five seconds back.

Behind the top-three, having the ride of the day was Vantornout. The former Belgian national cyclocross champion and winner in Gavere in 2014 has had a rough couple of seasons lately with podium appearances few and far between. He was riding at the front of the race in Gavere. He spent most of the day battling with another rider that is finally coming into form, Tom Meeusen (Beobank-Corendon).

Late in the race, mechanicals and punctures began to delay the top riders. Aerts would suffer a flat tire, crash and rear mechanical. His misfortune allowed van Aert to retake second place behind van der Poel. The leader was not immune to disaster either as he suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap. Van der Poel’s lead was large enough that while the puncture delayed him, he was not in danger of being passed.

The final lap started out looking to be straightforward with the podium all but set. Then van der Poel’s dramatic mechanical occurred. The 2015 world champion was forced to stop and he first attempted to fix the problem before setting off running. Three riders were able to pass the Superprestige series leader before he got to the pits and hopped on a spare bike.

Two of the three riders to pass van der Poel, van Aert and Aerts, were able to stay away and claim the first two spots on the podium. The victory is van Aert’s second Superprestige win of the season, as he also won round three in Boom. He has three total victories so far this year.

Vantornout was not able to hold off van der Poel and had to settle for fourth on the day. Meesuen came home in fifth and Lars van der Haar, who was a non-factor during the race, finished in sixth.

The Superprestige series continues on December 30th in Diegem. The race comes during the hectic holiday period when there are races nearly every day between Christmas and New Year’s. The Diegem event is also normally held at night.

Full results