Van der Poel rode a faultless race whilst second-place Van Aert blames a dropped chain
The race set off at a furious pace under the sunny, dry conditions, and a group consisting of Van Aert, Van der Poel, Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), and Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions) soon formed. Riders struggling on the technical obstacles in the pack caused the rest of the field to rapidly lose ground.
On lap four of 11, a dropped chain caused Van Aert to lose time, just as Van der Poel attacked along the barriers, with Soete stuck on his wheel. However, he could not match Van der Poel’s furious pace for long. Behind him, Van Aert recovered well from his mechanical and chased hard, and was seven seconds off the lead on lap four. However, he was unable to close the gap further, and ceded ground in the following laps.
Soete slipped back into a group made up of Van der Haar, Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal), Corne van Kessel, Quinten Hermans, Toon Aerts (all Telenet Fidea Lions), and Felipe Lloret Orts (Delikia-Ginestar), who were 31 seconds back. Aerts and Vanthourenhout attacked each other several times, with the lead duo seemingly out of reach. However, on the penultimate lap, Aerts escaped the group with Vanthourenhout unable to respond.
Van der Poel distanced Van Aert in the final laps, and went on to win in a time of 1:04:48, with the Belgian finishing eight seconds behind him. Aerts finished third, 58 seconds off the lead.
“Wout started explosively and I was suffering,” Van der Poel said. “I knew Daan was in second place. At the barriers I knew Daan wasn’t jumping, so I planned to accelerate there. It’s hard to create a gap on this course. There are only two or three sections where you can go flat out so that’s what I did, but Wout does that too.”
“I shifted wrong and my chain dropped, said Van Aert. “It’s a pity that I lost the race because of this incident. I kept trying because if the same happened with him I still had a chance.”
Aerts still leads the World Cup classification with 225 points, with Van Aert 15 behind.