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Having benefited from bad luck for archrival van Aert, van der Poel rode most of the race as the lone leader to take his first rainbow jersey at the elite level,; van Aert and van der Haar completed the podium

Photo: John de Jong








01.02.2015 @ 15:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) lived up to expectations when he took a dominant solo win in the elite men’s race at the World Championships in Tabor. The Dutchman benefited from bad luck for Wout van Aert (Belgium) who was arguably the strongest rider in the race and so rode most of the race as the lone leader, relegating van Aert and Lars van der Haar (Neterlands) to the minor positions.


A few weeks ago, Mathieu van der Poel decided to ride the elite race at the World Championships and with his dominant performance at last week’s World Cup race in Hoogerheide, he immediately elevated himself to the top of the list of favourites. Today he lived up to all the hype when he conquered the rainbow jersey that he missed out at the U23 level on home soil in 2014.


Van der Poel ended up doing most of the race as the lone leader of the race and his win never looked to be in danger. However, the strongest rider in the race was arguably Wout van Aert who did an amazing comeback after having been set back by bad luck.


Van der Poel showed his intentions right from the beginning when he accelerated already on the first lap and when he got at immediate gap, jumping the barriers, it seemed that another demonstration of power was in store. However, van Aert was riding very strongly and with Kevin Pauwels, Lars van der Haar, Tom Meeusen and Klaas Vantonout he managed to rejoin the lone Dutchman.


Van der Poel made another big attack to which only van Aert could respond but that’s when disaster struck for the Belgian. He first dropped his chain and when he later suffered another mechanical and hit the deck, he suddenly found himself in sixth place, 50 seconds behind the lone van der Poel.


From there he started an impressive comeback, setting faster lap times than anybody else for the rest of the race, but it was too late to get back to van der Poel. Instead, the biggest threat to the Dutchman came from van der Haar and Pauwels who were his nearest chasers.


Having benefited from Pauwels’ hard work, van der Haar finally made a big attack and as van der Poel made a few technical mistakes, it suddenly seemed as though he was still in contention for the title. At one point, he was only 8 seconds behind but from there, he started to lose ground and he never posed a real threat.


Pauwels had started to tire and he was easily passed by van Aert who continued his impressive progress. On the final lap, the Belgian even managed to latch onto van der Haar’s wheel, setting the scene for an exciting battle for second. However, van der Haar was on his limit and when van Aert launched a long sprint, it was apparent that there would be no Dutch 1-2. Pauwels, Vantornout, Meeusen and Gianni Vermeersch made it another four Belgians in the top 7.


For Sven Nys, the race ended as a disaster as he was never in medal contention. The Belgian lost ground throughout the entire race and didn’t even make it into the top 10.


Van der Poel will get his first chance to wear the rainbow jersey next weekend. He may skip Saturday’s Bpost Bank Trofee race in Lille but he will definitely be back in action on Sunday in the Superprestige race in Hoogstraten where he goes into the event as the overall leader of the series.


How it unfolded:

Lars van der Haar sprinte dut of the starting block and immediately hit the front. However, he quickly slowed down and it was Tom Meeusen who led the peloton through the first few turns.


While Philipp Walsleben had a small mishap that saw him set Klaas Vantornout a bit back, Mathieu van der Poel took over the pace-setting. Behind, the Dutchman, Wout van Aert, Meeusen and Kevin Pauwels were lined out ahead of van der Haar and Francis Mourey.


Van der Poel’s pace was enough to split the field as only van Aert and Meeusen could initially keep up. Pauwels and van der Haar followed a little later while Mourey and Vantornout were next.


As he managed to jump the barriers, van der Poel distanced his Belgian rivals. Van Aert briefly managed to rejoin him but in a technical section he again lost ground. Meanwhile, Pauwels and Meeusen had joined forces while van der Haar and Vantornout followed a little further back.


Just as hit the tarmac at the end of the first lap, disaster struck for van Aert who dropped his chain and had to stop to put it back on. When he was back on he had been passed by Pauwels and Meeusen who were 7 seconds at the passage of the line. Van Aert was at 12 seconds while van der Haar and Vantornout were at 14 seconds. Mourey was next while Sven Nys was in a small group that had already lost 30 seconds.


Van Aert rode strongly and in the early part of the second lap, he managed to rejoin Meeusen and Pauwels. However, van der Poel was powering along and the three Belgians didn’t get any closer.


Meeusen suffered a mechanical that saw him drop back to van der Haar and Vantornout. Meanwhile, van Aert had again lifted the pace and impressively he and Pauwels managed to rejoin van der Poel who had a near-crash as he tried to jump the barriers.


The front trio slowed down and this allowed Meeusen, van der Haar and Vantornout to rejoin them. However, they didn’t get a chance to breathe as van der Poel launched another attack and immediately got a gap. At the passage of the line, he was 5 seconds ahead of Pauwels, Meeusen and van der Haar while Vantornout was at 12 seconds. Van Aert had apparently had some kind of mishap as he was now 17 seconds behind.


Van der Poel had now found his rhythm and he quickly increased his advantage. Meanwhile, Pauwels decided to make his bid for the Worlds title and his fast pace was enough to get rid of van der Haar and Meeusen.


At the next passage of the line, van der Poel was 11 seconds ahead of Pauwels and van der Haar who had rejoined the Belgian while Meeusen was at 19 seconds. Vantornout was still in contention for a medal as he was at 25 seconds while van Aert had hit the deck and was distanced by a massive 50 seconds. Gianni Vermeersch and Nys were next across the line but had lost a massive 1.02.


At one point, it seemed that Pauwels and van der Haar got a bit closer but when they ended the fourth lap, they had again lost ground and were trailing the leader by 18 seconds. Meeusen and Vantornout were at 36 seconds while van Aert had been faster than anyone else, having reduced the deficit to 47 seconds.


On the fifth lap, van der Poel hit the deck and this briefly gave the Belgian fans a bit of hope. However, the Dutchman was quickly back on his bike and only lost a few seconds due to the incident. Van Aert was now riding extremely fast and he had now passed both Meeusen and Vantornout.


Having followed wheels for most of the race, van der Haar now decided to attack and he managed to distance Pauwels. At the passage of the line, he was only 12 seconds behind while Pauwels was at 16 seconds. An impressive van Aert was still the fastest rider on the course and was now at 35 seconds.


Apparently van der Poel had started a bit too fast as he was now losing ground to van der Haar. Meanwhile, van Aert had managed to rejoin his compatriot Pauwels.


At the start of the penultimate lap, van der Haar had reduced his deficit to 10 seconds while van Aert and Pauwels were at 28 seconds, meaning that van Aert was still the fastest rider on the course. Vantornout and Meeusen were now 59 seconds and so they were no longer in medal contention. Nys was having a disastrous race and was not even in the top 10.


Disaster struck for Pauwels who went down as he tried to run up the stairs and so he lost contact with van Aert. Meanwhile, it seemed that van der Haar was paying the price for his big attack and he was again losing ground to the lone leader.


At the start of the final lap, the gap was 11 seconds after van der Poel had briefly hit the deck while van Aert had reduced his deficit to 21 seconds. Pauwels seemed to have lost out on a medal as he was now distanced by more than 40 seconds.


It was now clear that only bad luck could deny van der Poel the title but the battle for second was an exciting one. Van Aert was constantly getting closer to van der Haar and halfway through the lap, he was only 4 seconds behind. Van der Haar dug deep as he tried to keep the Belgian at bay but when van Aert showed superior technical skills, he finally managed to make the junction.


Meanwhile, van der Poel had time to enjoy the final lap and when he hit the finishing straight, he had plenty of time to enjoy his first rainbow jersey at the elite level.


Van Aert launched a long sprint and apparently he was fresher than van der Haar who is usually the faster of the pair. The Dutchaman quickly sat up to allow van Aert to take second, 15 seconds behind van der Poel. Pauwels tok fourth, Vantornout fifth and Meeusen sixth.



1. Mathieu van der Poel 1.09.12

2. Wout van Aert +0.15

3. Lars van der Haar +0.17

4. Kevin Pauwels +1.06

5. Klaas Vantornout +1.12

6. Tom Meeusen +1.17

7. Gianni Vermeersch +2.26

8. Marcel Meisen +2.37

9. Phillip Walsleben +2.43

10. Marco Aurelio Fontana +2.43



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