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Cyclocross

Blanka Vas, Mathieu van der Poel victorious at Ethias Cross Bredene

Reduced startsheet saw Van Aert, Pidcock, Brand, del Carmen Alvarado all sit out the Belgian race.

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Mathieu van der Poel continued his reign at the top of world cyclocross with another victory while 19-year-old Blanka Vas took a breakout debut Belgian victory at the Ethias Cross Bredene on Wednesday.

The race saw a much-reduced startlist with top names Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock, Lucinda Brand, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Eli Iserbyt all sitting out.

American rider Curtis White led the men’s race through the opening lap before Toon Aerts, Gianni Vermeersch, and van der Poel went off the front. The trio stayed together through until lap three at which point Vermeersch fell off the pace.

Van der Poel let Aerts dictate the tempo through til lap four at which point the Dutchman chose his moment to accelerate clear, instantly gapping Aerts. Aerts was delayed in his chase by a flat tire, leaving him straggling around 15 seconds back on the world champ. Vermeersch and Michael Vanthourenhout battled toe-to-toe for third-place behind them.

Vanthourenhout rode away from his rival of lap six and from there, the wide gaps between the top four were sealed, with van der Poel riding to a solid one-minute victory. Aerts and Vanthourenhout took second and third places respectively.

There was only one rider in it in the race for the women’s race. Vas went clear on the first lap and was never seen again while behind her, the race came down to a scrap for the bottom steps of the podium.

Vas secured a dominant 1:14 victory after a race only disrupted by one slip in the second lap. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Alicia Franck had a strong lead in the battle for second through the first half of the race while behind her, Honsinger closed down Belgian champ Sanne Cant, who rode in third position in the field.

Cant and Honsinger came together on lap three and remained locked together despite taking turns in launching attacks. The duo caught Franck in the final lap as the Belgian pair looked to work together to distance the American Honsinger. Cant rode clear mid-way through the last circuit and Franck followed close behind, though the 26-year-old slid on the greasy surface soon after, allowing Honsinger to catch.

Vas secured a dominant 1:14 victory after a race only disrupted by one slip in the second lap, while behind her, Cant took second. Honsinger and Franck went into the narrow final straight together, with the American just edged off the podium in the final sprint.

Though the field was small Wednesday, all the big names are likely to be back in action Friday for the prestigious New Year’s Day GP Sven Nys.