Cyclocross

Van der Perfect: MvdP Goes 8 for 8 at 2019 Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke – Cyclocross Magazine

by Mathias Dewaelsche

In today’s Noordzeecross (translated: North Sea cross) in the Belgian coastal city of Middelkerke, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon Circus) took the start hoping to take his eighth victory in eight races in the Superprestige.

If he went undefeated, he would become peers with the legend Sven Nys, who did the same thing 12 years ago.

In the Superprestige classification, Van der Poel had an 11-point advantage on Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea). Winning the title seemed to be a formality. The only question was, could he do it with a perfect record?

With perfection on the line, the World Champ didn’t seem too concerned. Because his road season already starts next Thursday in the Tour of Antalya in Turkey, he took a short break and went on a ski trip this week. The question was if he would experience any problems because of his two-plank escapades today.

Van der Poel already won the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions of the Noordzeecross. The retiring Kevin Pauwels won the 2015 edition.

A Stumble in the Sand

Belgian champion Aerts was the rider with today’s fast start, but once in the field, he was soon passed by Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea) and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux Bingoal).

The off-camber presented challenges to riders all day. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Because the first sand strip was groomed before the start of the race, the riders didn’t have any choice but to run.

Stepping off his bike, Van der Poel took a surprising tumble. This was all the sign Aerts needed to accelerate.

Riding towards the long running strip on the track, Pidcock crashed on the off-camber.

Pidcock took an early tumble on the off-camber. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

While Aerts tried to ride the running strip, the other riders decided to run. At the end of the first of eight laps, a leading group, with Kevin Pauwels (Marlux Bingoal) among them, formed. Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea) took the lead, followed by Vanthourenhout and Van der Poel.

Soon Vanthourenhout took over from Hermans and went on the attack. Van der Poel, with Hermans in his wheel, closed the gap. Now the lead group was three.

Aerts took the lead in the chasing group. Towards the end of the second lap, Van der Poel opened up a little advantage on Vanthourenhout and Hermans.

A Sandy Escape

The sand strip proved critical in the race. Once it was broken in with footprints, The Flying Dutchman found enough of a rut to leave his mark on two wheels. Van der Poel hit the sand with speed and never got off.

Van der Poel rode the sand to another Superprestige victory. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Vanthourenhout succeeded in riding the sand pit as well, opening an advantage on Hermans, who had to run.

Vanthourenhout had some success riding the sand. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

At the end of the third lap, Van der Poel had a 14-second advantage on Vanthourenhout and a 17-second advantage on Hermans, who left Aerts behind. The Belgian champion was 23 seconds in arrears of van der Poel.

During the fourth lap, Hermans surged and reconnected with Vanthourenhout. Aerts joined the two chasers a little later in the long running strip. At the end of the fourth lap, the three-headed chasing group was 31 seconds behind. It seemed that the victory would go to Van der Poel once again.

Van der Haar joined Hermans, Vanthourenhout and Aerts in the fifth lap. Vermeersch, Pauwels and Pidcock formed the second chasing group. In the meantime, Van der Poel stole the show with a massive air over the flyover.

At the end of the sixth lap, he had a 42 seconds advantage on Vanthourenhout and Hermans. Aerts and Van der Haar soon closed the gap. Vanthourenhout wasn’t done yet. He attacked, dropping the three Telenet-Fidea Lions, while his teammate Pauwels closed the gap to take his spot with the three Lions.

Entering the seventh lap, Vanthourenhout was 24 seconds on behind Van der Poel. The three Lions, who dropped Pauwels, followed 36 seconds off the lead. Aerts soon proved to be the strongest, and left Van der Haar and Hermans behind.

Up ahead, Van der Poel was already cruising. He entered the last lap with a 16 seconds advantage on Vanthourenhout and a 31 seconds advantage on Aerts.

Mathieu van der Poel was perfect this season at the Superprestige series. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

In the last lap, Vanthourenhout, entering the long running strip, saw Van der Poel running in front of him. It motivated him to sprint, but it was in vain.

Van der Perfect

Van der Poel took his 31st win of the season and his eighth victory in eight races in the Superprestige.

Mathieu van der Perfect. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Vanthourenhout finished second, Aerts third, Van der Haar fourth, Hermans fifth and a retiring Pauwels sixth. Vermeersch, Nieuwenhuis, Adams and Pidcock completed the top 10.

Mathieu van der Poel was perfect this season at the Superprestige series. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Eric Thompson finished 42nd and was first American. Andrew Juiliano finished 48th and Dylan Postier 53rd.

With his perfect record, Van der Poel dominated the Superprestige trophy, Aerts finished second overall, Van der Haar third.

Overall title podium: Aerts, Van der Poel and Van der Haar. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Pidcock took the U23 overall title.

Despite his early crash, Tom Pidcock wrapped up his overall U23 title. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

“I’m very happy I got eight out of eight,”, Van der Poel said in the post-race interview to Sporza (translated).

When Sporza interviewer Renaat Schotte told Van der Poel that Sven Nys is honored that the young Dutchman equaled his performance, Van der Poel responded, “If Sven Nys is honored to be equaled by me, then I’m honored that I equaled him.”

Mathieu van der Perfect. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Three Americans took the start with Eric Thompson (Molten Speedwax) in 42nd, Andrew Juiliano (Grit World Racing) in 48th and Dylan Postier (Louis Garneau Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) in 53rd.

Photo gallery below the results.

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2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke Results: Elite Men

Van der Poel showed no effects from his ski trip early in the week. 2019 Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkerke. Elite Men. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine