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World champion Mathieu van der Poel dispatched a tough crowd of contenders to win the Superprestige round on Sunday in Diegem, Belgium.
As the laps wound down under the lights van der Poel (BKCP-Corendon) was in a lead group containing Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), European champ Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea).
Van Aert and van der Poel each tried their luck off the front before Pauwels and the world champ finally got away, chased by van der Haar.
Shortly thereafter Van Aert was forced off the bike by a mechanical and faced a long slog to the pits, while van der Haar and Meeusen both fought their way back up to the two leaders.
Then on the final go-round van der Poel launched a pair of attacks that did for Meeusen, then uncorked a third going into a muddy U-turn that gave him pole position for the final muddy stretch, the staircase run and the sprint to the finish.
Pauwels took second with van der Haar third.
“Two out of two this weekend. That feels good,” said van der Poel, who added that Pauwels was the stronger man on the day but that he was better tactically, especially on the final lap.
“I sprinted to every corner like I sprinted to the finish line,” he said.
Pauwels agreed that the U-turn proved critical, and said it probably helped that the world champ was using disc brakes.
“The key moment was probably when we approached the 180-degree bend,” he said. “I really thought that I could take in in the lead, but suddenly Mathieu slipped past. With normal brakes such a maneuver might be impossible.”
Van Aert could only manage 10th on the day but held onto the Superprestige lead with 80 points. Pauwels sits second with 77 while Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) is third with 75.
Van Loy moves up the podium
In the earlier women’s race it was Ellen Van Loy (Telenet) taking the victory ahead of Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BCKP) and Eva Lechner (Colnago-Sudtirol).
Van Loy got away on the first lap and left everyone else to battle for second.
“It seems like I’m doing what I want,” said Van Loy. “Saturday was a first podium in a World Cup and now this.”
Cant continues to lead the series with 74 points. Jolien Verschueren (Telenet) is second with 73 and Helen Wyman (Kona Factory) third with 68.