Newly crowned world champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) won the eighth and final round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series in Lille on Saturday.
Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) finished second with Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) third.
“I got to race in new kit and that was very motivating,” said van der Poel, who hopes to hold onto his lead in the Superprestige series following Sunday’s race in Hoogstraten. He has a one-point edge over Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and two over Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin).
“In the beginning I was not so good, but then I came to the front and could open a gap right away. I have very good form now — so I went for the win even though tomorrow is important. At the end of the race I was a minute ahead, so I slowed down a little bit to save something for tomorrow.”
Van Aert, who clinched the overall Bpost Bank Trofee title with his runner-up finish, said he had hoped to battle for the victory on Saturday, but couldn’t match the rainbow jersey’s power.
“I’m more happy with [second] than I was last week,” he said. “Today Mathieu was really stronger than me and I just gave everything for my home crowd. But, simply, it was too difficult to beat him today. he was really stronger. Then you have to be happy with second.
“The last lap I took the lead. My plan was to stay on the first place and then I can ride my own sprint, I can choose when I start my sprint. And, yeah, that worked out perfectly.”
Nys was likewise happy to make the podium.
“I’m really happy with this result, because it’s been a hard period, and I’ve been suffering a lot,” he said.
“Mentally, it’s really important to have a good result in the last part of the season. Definitely it’s getting better and better since the Christmas period. But it’s with ups and downs. My worst month was December, but I tried to focus on my shape, to focus on staying on the podium again, and at the end of the season I’m there. And that’s mentally really important to have a good start of the season next year.”
In women’s racing, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) took the victory ahead of Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea) and British champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing).
At midrace the Belgian champion already had 10 seconds on her rivals and she went on to claim her 20th victory of the season.
Cant said the win helped erase the frustration of losing the world championships in Tabor.
“It doesn’t make sense to dwell on the world championships, but today I cycled out my frustrations. I needed that.” she said. “But it motivates me to work even harder this summer and next year to win.”
As for Loy, she was proud to have collected the overall series title.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m really proud of all of this. I have to work really hard for it. It’s not that I could just take it. I had to work for it.
“It’s like, all things are happening this season. Second in the in the World Cup also. It’s important. Now I think I’m like third in the UCI rankings? It’s unbelievable when I — all the things are really good for me.”
Wyman had to fight off Loes Sels (Telenet) to claim the final spot on the podium.
“It was fast, crazy fast. It was not really my thing, but I tried really hard,” she said.
“Loes came back to me, she’s really good on sand, and it was starting to get sandier [as the frozen course softened]. So she was using her technique to try to come back. And I was like, I’m still having this, so the last lap I attacked and she never closed the gap.”
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report from Lille.