Mathieu van der Poel and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot were victorious in the snowy and muddy conditions on Sunday in Overijse, Belgium.

Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM) proved to be the strongest in the snowy and muddy conditions on Sunday at the Vlaamse Druivencross in Overijse, Belgium.

Overnight and early morning snowfall made the course in Overijse a battle of attrition. By the time the elite races began in the early afternoon, the course had changed into a sloppy muddy affair. It wasn’t a matter of if a rider crashed, but when. The key came to whoever was able to recover from their falls the most quickly.

The elite men charged up the steep paved climb that led onto the course with Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea) leading the field. Van der Poel was tucked in just behind with American national champion Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b sitting third wheel. Hyde had the luxury of starting on the front row on Sunday.

Hermans time in the lead would be short-lived, as van der Poel took over and rode away from everyone. Unlike on Saturday when he didn’t establish his winning lead until about halfway through the race, Van der Poel forced the rest of the riders to settle to fight for second a mere half lap into the race.

A large chase group formed behind van der Poel with Tom Meeusen (Beobank-Corendon), Klass Vantournout and Eli Isterbyt (Marlux-Napolean Games), Hyde and a few others. Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea) suffered a mechanical at the start of the race and spent the early laps chasing through the field. He would bridge to the chase group about midway through the race.

Van der Poel demonstrated his superior bike handling skills in the early going, at some points making the course look dry. He was able to ride steep muddy climbs that albeit a few were forced to run. He did so though with apparent ease.

Meeusen, Isterbyt, and Vantournout got away from the other chasers on the fourth lap, as the taxing conditions began to take its toll on the riders. Van Kessel would come charging up from behind, as the chase group reshuffled and soon Kessel, Meeusen and Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) were battling for the second spot.

The chasing trio came onto the pavement to finish the race together. Meeusen led the group out, but was limited due to a front flat tire and thus was unable to stand on the pedals, much less sprint. Kessel secured second with Meesuen holding on for third. Adams finished fourth with Isterbyt in fifth.

This is the third time in four years van der Poel has won Druivencross. He won the race in 2015 while wearing the rainbow bands of world champion and also won the race last year.

Elite men top-10

Ferrand-Prevot shows she’s on form

In just her second race back from a long absence of racing cyclocross, former world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is once again on the top step of the podium. She conquered the mud on Sunday and beat current world champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon). Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) captured third on the day.

Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) got off to a quick start in Overijse, charging up the paved climb at the start and opening a gap on the rest of the elite women’s field. Soon Cant came to the fore and was joined by Brand and then Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans. Helen Wyman (Kona) was also up at the front in the beginning. She had troubles at the start the day before in Essen, getting caught up in a crash and thus was on the back foot for the rest of that race.

Ferrand-Prevot showed her strength early-on by joining the chase group behind the leading three on the opening lap, as she had started on the back row. The chase consisted of Katie Compton (KFC Racing/Trek/Panache), Annemarie Worst (ERA-Circus), Noble and Ferrand-Prevot. Brand would slide out on one of the descents and drop out of the lead group and into the chase.

Cant turned the power up to another level up the paved climb to begin the second lap and was alone in the lead once she hit the mud. Brammeier tucked into the chase group, which had lost Noble and Worst off the back. The world champion was caught three-quarters of the way through the lap with Brand taking little time to capitalize and put in a strong attack. She crossed the line with two laps to go, alone in the lead. Ferrand-Prevot led the chase group and behind them, Worst and Noble were riding together. The duo finished first and second at the world championships in February in the women’s under-23 race.

Last year’s Druivencross winner, Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil), abandoned after completing the second lap.

Ferrand-Prevot bridged to Brand early in the third lap and would set a fierce pace that no one would be able to match. She finished the lap with nearly a 20-second advantage over Brand and Cant. Compton was a few seconds behind the chasing duo with Brammeier further behind Compton.

The final lap saw Ferrand-Prevot on cruise-control through the mud, as Cant and Brand battled for second. On the extremely slippy final descent toward the paved finishing straight, Brand opted to run down while Cant rode down. This proved to be the decisive point in the battle for second. Cant open a gap that Brand would not be able to close through the final slippery turns before the pavement.

While Cant secured second, Ferrand-Prevot crossed the line with a smile on her face. She was back on the top step. Compton finished just behind Brand, to secure fourth place on the day.

Noble continued her successful European campaign with another top-10 finish on Sunday. She finished in ninth, losing a few places in the end. Worst, who Noble had been riding with most of the race, finished in sixth.

Elite women full results

Elite men full results