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Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) won the penultimate round of the 2014-15 Superprestige series at Hoogstraten in Belgium.
The freshly anointed world champion got off to his usual swift start, chased by Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin).
Van der Poel began the day with a one-point edge over Pauwels and two over van der Haar, and he set about defending his series lead from the front, quickly building an advantage on the very first lap.
Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) had something of a rough start to the day, crashing on a muddy straight but quickly remounting.
As the laps ticked down van der Poel held onto his advantage, with Pauwels and van der Haar unable to make up any ground on the rainbow jersey, sitting eight and 16 seconds down, respectively.
With five to go van der Haar had slipped to a half minute down as Pauwels pressed a solo chase.
A lap later Pauwels remained 17 seconds in arrears with van der Haar losing ground.
With two to go Pauwels was a half-minute down and resigned to second, stretching as he rolled over the finish line. Van der Haar was nearly a minute down, with Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) closing.
He caught the Giant rider, and dropped him, and as van der Poel took the victory, followed by Pauwels in second, Van Aert galloped to the final step on the podium.