Van der Poel displays confidence and power to take victory at Tabor CX
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) rode faultlessly from lap one to take his tenth win on the cyclocross season at the UCI World Cup in Tabor. The Dutchman attacked the lead group on the third lap and never looked back, with Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) finishing 14 seconds behind him, and Lars van der Haar (Telenet-Fidea Lions) taking third, a further six seconds back.
“I got away on a technical section and immediately had the right sensations,” said winner Van der Poel. “I rode my own pace then it’s easier to choose your lines.”
“It’s a course I like a lot with a lot of altitude and also some technical sections,” said second-place Vanthourenhout. “On this course I became world champion in the U23 category and narrowly lost out on third place at the European championships last year.”
The course was dry and sunny, allowing for fast racing. A group of seven went clear early in the first lap, formed of Van der Poel, Vanthourenhout, Van der Haar, Wout Van Aert, Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), Toon Aerts, and Corné van Kessel (both Telenet-Fidea Lions).
The lead group were joined by Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Fidea Lions), Michael Boros (Creafin-Tüv Süd), and Tom Meeusen (Corenden-Circus) on lap two. Aerts set the pace on the front, with Van der Poel and Vanthourenhout close on his wheel. The pair’s persistence paid off when Aerts’ rear wheel slipped through a greasy bend, allowing them to take the front of the race.
Van der Poel chose Aerts’ slip as the moment to attack, and soon put three seconds into Vanthourenhout, stretching this out to 10 seconds by lap four. Behind, Vanthourenhout, Soete, Van der Haar, Hermans, Aerts, and Boros kept on the chase.
Vanthourenhout stretched out a gap over the rest of the chasers through lap four and five, distancing them by around five seconds. Meanwhile, Van der Poel’s margin at the front continued to stretch, hitting over 30 seconds in lap six.
By lap seven, Van der Haar had bridged up to Vanthourenhout and the pair battled hard. Aerts, Hermans, and Soete chased behind, fourth place constantly changing between them.
Van der Poel looked totally at ease in the final laps, easing off the pace slightly in a sign of confident caution. He went on to win in 1:02:43, with Vanthourenhout shaking Van der Haar in the final lap to take second by six seconds. Aerts finished fourth, increasing his lead in the World Cup standings on Van Aert.