Van Aert, Cant victorious in Superprestige opener

Sanne Cant and Wout van Aert prevail in a dry, sandy start to the Superprestige series in Holland

Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) rode away from Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) to win Sunday’s Superprestige opener at Gieten in the Netherlands.

The two had been off the front chased by David van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), who in turn was chased by a large bunch containing Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink).

Nys surged to the front of the chase as van Aert opened a gap on van der Haar in a sandy stretch just ahead of the start-finish line.

Van Aert held his advantage and took the victory ahead of van der Haar, while Tim Merlier (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) proved strongest of the pursuers to round out the podium in third. Nys had to settle for fourth. Van der Poel, meanwhile, faded to 22nd.

Earlier, in women’s racing, Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) took the flowers ahead of Telenet-Fidea teammates Nikki Harris and Jolien Verschueren.

Cant marked Harris and Sanne van Paassen (Boels Dolmans) early in the race, then both she and Verschueren moved forward, with van Paassen dropping out of contention.

“Obviously I’m very happy with this first victory of the season,” Cant said, adding that despite pressure from Harris she felt that she had the race “pretty well under control.”

“Only in the sand was it a bit harder,” she said. “A whole race à bloc is always a good workout.”