search Inloggen search Registreren

Jouw profiel

Registreren Inloggen



Trainer Road

januari 08, 2024


10 in a Row: Mathieu van der Poel Grinds Rivals to Dust on Sandy Zonhoven Course

Mathieu van der Poel continued what seems an inevitable march to another rainbow jersey on Sunday, crushing his rivals in the Zonhoven round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup.

Task made more straightforward by the absence of Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), the Alpecin-Deceuncink rider bided his time early on before making his move on lap four of eight.

He surged hard on a sandy uphill section the others had to run and opened an immediate gap over them. Blending skill and strength, he continued to pad his advantage thereafter and was 31 seconds to the better at the beginning of lap six.

The Dutchman backed off on the final lap to savor the win but still reached the line 20 seconds ahead of Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) and 22 in front of Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Corendon). Nieuwenhuis’ teammate Pim Ronhaar was fourth, 29 seconds down.

The result was Van der Poel’s 10th victory in a row, continuing a remarkable unbeaten streak since his first cross race of the season back on December 16. It represents also his 37th World Cup victory, plus the 159th win of his cycling career.

“I am super happy with how this part of the cyclocross season went. I am also happy I can go to Spain now and work on the shape again,” he said.

Asked why he stuck with the other riders for much of the race before striking out for home, he said that the conditions played a part.

“It was quite cold so it took a while before I got into my own rhythm. It is quite a tough race and I didn’t want to waste too much energy today.”

Late surge does the trick

Netherlands' Mathieu Van Der Poel competes in the men's elite race at the World Cup Cyclocross cycling event in Zonhoven on January 7, 2024. (Photo by DAVID PINTENS / Belga / AFP)
Netherlands’ Mathieu Van Der Poel competes in the men’s elite race at the World Cup Cyclocross cycling event in Zonhoven on January 7, 2024. (Photo by DAVID PINTENS / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT)

He, Nieuwenhuis and Sweeck were the strongest early on and ended lap one some nine seconds ahead of World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt plus three other chasers. There was a partial regrouping after that, with Ronhaar leading a seven man group starting lap four.

Van der Poel decided it was time to act, leading the group down the first sandy descent before hitting the launch button on the subsequent ramp. The other riders had to run this part, the difference in pace handing Van der Poel a massive gap in the space of just a few seconds.

Nieuwenhuis was best of the rest and began lap five of eight 13 seconds down, with Vandebosch, Sweeck and Ronhaar at 20 seconds.

Those three then got back up to Nieuwenhuis and were 31 seconds off the lead starting lap six. With Van der Poel sandy streets ahead of them, their attention turned to the battle for second place. Vandebosch lost out on the chance of a podium when he crashed on a sandy descent, while the other three duked it out on the final lap.

Nieuwenhuis uncorked a big burst towards the end, stretching things out and distancing Ronhaar. His pace saw him carry a slight advantage over Sweeck into the finishing straight and he sprinted in two seconds ahead.

“This year it is a bit weird for me, because all the races I couldn’t result before in past years I did a good result this year,” he said. “Like, Boom, I won, which I didn’t race well before. Gavere I also never raced well and I also did a good race there.

“And then today again. So I surprised myself a little bit today.”

If the outcome wasn’t a surprise, in terms of the race winner, the battle for second was more entertaining. Sweeck pushed Nieuwenhuis close, but felt the result was fair.

“I think it was a tough race with the three, four guys we were. In the end Joris was a little bit stronger,” he said. “He attacked on the second last lap already and I didn’t have an answer [then] so I think he was the strongest.”

Eli Iserbyt continues to lead the World Cup overall, but sees his advantage over Nieuwenhuis reduced by ten points. He is now just 25 ahead of his main rival, having missed out on points in the Hulst World Cup on December 30.

He had an elevated heart rate and symptoms of fatigue during that race, and had a rare DNF as a result. He was later diagnosed with dehydration due to a stomach bug, and reportedly spent a night in hospital.

Back racing on Sunday, he looked below par and finished sixth. Things are tightening with just two rounds remaining, making for a big finale in the competition.


What's your reaction ?

Comments (0)

No reviews found