Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) caught and dropped Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) on the final lap to win the Superprestige Gieten on Sunday.
Van der Haar had been off the front since the third lap, having dispatched Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) early on and taken sole possession of the lead.
But van der Poel, who got off to a fast start, proved to have an equally fast finish, overhauling the Dutchman in the last go-round to take the victory by a couple of bike lengths.
Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink), who got off to a poor start and had to fight his way forward through traffic, took third.
A three-man lead group quickly formed up on the sandy, hilly circuit, with van der Poel leading Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).
They were pulled back at the end of the first lap and a larger group formed, including Corné van Kessel (Telenet), David van der Poel (BKCP-PowerPlus) and van der Haar, with Meeusen and Pauwels taking turns in the lead.
Van der Haar took the front of the now-seven-man group going into the third lap. But when Meeusen crashed in a sketchy right hand descent, briefly unhorsing van Kessel and David van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), van der Haar and Pauwels suddenly found themselves with a whole bunch of daylight.
Van der Haar waved Pauwels into the lead as they came through the start-finish. Then the Dutchman gapped him in the sand and took charge of the race.
Van der Haar quickly built a 10-second lead over Pauwels, who was struggling in the sand.
With five to go Pauwels was 15 seconds down and in danger of being caught by a chase led by van der Poel. A lap later the Sunweb rider had been caught, and a large chase began forming, including van der Poel, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb) and Nys.
Mathieu van der Poel got away from the others and moved into second, chased by Pauwels, Nys, Vantornout, David van der Poel, and Meeusen.
With three laps remaining it was still van der Haar out front, chased by van der Poel at 22 seconds with the Nys-Pauwels group at 33 seconds. With two to go van der Poel had closed to within 14 seconds, and the Nys group had likewise cut its deficit to less than a half-minute.
Van der Poel kept pressing his chase, moving ever closer to the leader, as behind, Nys finally left his group behind. And going into the bell lap van der Haar’s advantage was just four seconds.
The two men were just a few bike lengths apart at the barriers, and shortly after van der Poel finally reached van der Haar’s wheel, he attacked on a sandy climb to take the lead.
Van der Poel kept the pressure on, putting three seconds on the Dutchman, who seemed finally to have run out of gas. And though he chased all the way to the line, it was van der Poel taking the victory.
A clearly frustrated van der Haar hung on for second with Nys coasting across the line for third.
In women’s racing, which was not part of the Superprestige series, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) took the victory, edging Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea). Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) rounded out the podium in third.
“It’s always nice to win,” said the Belgian champion. “It’s proof that you have worked well at the start of the season. I can confidently look forward to the coming weeks. ”