Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) won the elite men's European Championship for the first time on Sunday in Tabor, Czech Republic.

Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) continued his emphatic 2017 season, by dominantly winning the elite men’s European Cyclocross Championship in Tabor, Czech Republic on Sunday. The win is the first time he has claimed the elite European cyclocross title.

Lars van der Haar was able to stay with van der Poel for nearly two laps, but lost contact at the barrier. He became dispatched when van der Poel bunny hopped the barriers on lap two, while he ran. The gap that was created would never be closed by van der Haar. He rode the rest of the race alone to finish with the silver medal.

The excitement in the elite men’s race was created by the battle for the bronze medal, which was fought for by a massive 12-rider group that included eight Belgians. Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) bunny hopped the barriers on the final lap and was able to gain a gap on the others. Toon Aerts (Belgium) bridged to him though in the final few hundred meters of the lap, as David van Poel (Netherlands) was also closing in.

Vanthourenhout led on to the pavement and started the sprint for the Bronze medal. Instead of taking the short inside line on the left side of the road, he sprinted on the right. Aerts took the shorter inside line and captured the bronze medal on the bike throw. A strong result after winning the European cyclocross title last year. Vanthourenhout was clearly upset at just missing out on the podium, as he threw his bike against the barriers.

David van der Poel took fifth, capping a great race for the van der Poel family.

Top-10 results

Notably absent on the start line of the elite men’s race was world champion Wout van Aert. He had opted to rest this weekend as a midseason reset. As has been the case this season, van der Poel launched out of the starting grid and took the holeshot. However, he was not able to ride off alone for the rest of the race, as Aerts (Belgium) and van der Haar were able to follow him.

On the pavement concluding the opening lap, van der Poel opened up the throttle and put Aerts and van der Haar on the limit. Early in the next lap, Aerts lost contact with van der Haar simply following van der Poel and not taking over the lead.

Van der Poel bunny hopped the barriers while van der Haar ran them on the second lap and thus opened up a gap. This would prove to be the advantage van der Poel needed to pounce, as he accelerated hard.

Van der Haar, winner of the European title in 2015, stayed within striking distance for the rest of the lap. He crossed the line four seconds down on van der Poel with Aerts behind in third.

A massive chase group on the following lap would sweep up Aerts. The 12-rider chase, with Aerts included, contained eight Belgians, two Dutchman, one Italian and one Czech. Vanthourenhout, David van der Poel, Laurens Sweeck (Belgium), Kevin Pauwels (Belgium), Gioele Bertolini (Italy) and Michael Boros (Czech Republic) were a few of the riders in the group.

At the end of the third lap of eight, van der Poel had stretched his lead to 10 seconds over van der Haar, who was not going down without a fight. The gap was small enough that any error by van der Poel would allow van der Haar back into the race. The chase group was nearly 40 seconds behind and the battle for the bronze medal had officially become fierce.

Drama occurred in the chase group at the beginning of the penultimate lap, as Pauwels crashed and proceeded to disrupt the rhythm of three of his Belgian teammates. After this, the group of 12 would never fully come back together, as the fatigue of the race began to take its toll.

The final lap saw a great battle for the bronze medal with many of the riders in the chase group trading attacks. Vanthourenhout used his great bike handling skills to his advantage by bunny-hopping the barriers on the final lap. He was one of the few riders to bunny-hop the uphill barriers in Tabor and it turned out to be quite an advantage as he opened a gap on the others.

Aerts would chase back on before the end of the lap with David van der Poel coming very close, but not be able to make contact.

Ultimately, Aerts would deny Vanthourenhout a medal and take home the bronze medal on a well-timed bike throw. Van der Poel finished fith with Jens Adams (Belgium) in sixth. BoroŠ was the first non-Belgian or Dutch rider to cross the line by finishing in seventh.

Elite men full results

Under-23 men full results

Junior men full results