Van der Poel Roars Back After Lap 1 Crash at Azencross – Report, Results – Cyclocross Magazine

Kerstperiode cyclocross racing always draws big crowds and a lot of attention in Belgium, but Friday’s Azencross Loenhout was on another level thanks to the return of three-time world champ Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) after his horrible crash at the Tour de France.

Before the race, Van Aert said he was unsure how his return to the field would go, but with a front-row start and the confidence of his rival Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus), the large crowd was expecting a good show from the former champ.

Wout van Aert made his return at Azencross. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Van Aert wanted to show himself right away as he took today’s holeshot. On the same flyover where European champion Yara Kastelijn went down in the Women’s race, World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) crashed and went to the back of the field.

Just as in the World Cup race in Koksijde, Van der Poel would have to make his way back from the back of the pack.

Long-time rival van Aert lost some positions on a technical section with barriers and a ditch. Not wanting to have an injury again, he decided to run while the others were bunny hopping and jumping.

After van der Poel crashed where Kastelijn had crashed, Belgian national road champion Tim Merlier (Creafin – Fristads) crashed where Worst had crashed. A tricky course, so proved the similar incidents.

It was DVV leader Eli Iserbyt who passed the finish line in first position after one lap. He had a little gap on Corné van Kessel (Telenet Baloise Lions) and a 7-second advantage on a group that included Van Aert.

Van der Poel had an arrear of 38 seconds. Could he turn this around? He certainly had a lot of work to do just one lap into the race.

Eli Iserbyt and Corne van Kessel got a gap early on. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Merlier, Jim Aernouts (Telenet Baloise Lions) and Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) then escaped the group with Van Aert, while Van der Poel was trying to bridge towards that group. He succeeded by the end of the second lap but still faced a 24 seconds arrear on Iserbyt and Van Kessel.

Corne van Kessel and Eli Iserbyt set the pace early on. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

In Lap 3, Van der Poel made his way up through the chasing group to the wheel of van Aert. Going toward the iconic washboard rollers, he started pushing hard. He bridged the gap with Merlier, Sweeck and Aernouts, but still faced a 23 seconds arrear.

Van der Poel had to push to get back in the race. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Van der Poel, wanting to make it to the front of the race, soon left Merlier, Aernouts and Sweeck behind. Iserbyt, not wanting Van der Poel to return, lifted the pace and dropped Van Kessel.

Unfortunately for Iserbyt, the “Flying Dutchman” had an outstanding day once again. First, he caught up with van Kessel only to leave him behind. Then 40 minutes into the race, Van der Poel finally made it to the front of the race.

Van der Poel caught and passed Van Kessel. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Twice Iserbyt managed to close a gap after two better mud passages by Van der Poel, but when van der Poel accelerated in the last lap, Iserbyt had no response anymore. Once again van der Poel took the victory, this time after a strong comeback.

“It was a very tough catch-up race because it was a difficult track to pass riders,” Van der Poel said (translated). “On the bridge, I rode over a sandbag, which was loose already, so there was not much I could do about my crash. I couldn’t do anything else than stay calm, ride my own race and catch up with riders until I was back in front. I divided my race well. When I was back in front, I had given my best already, so I didn’t have much left to make Iserbyt break.”

Van der Poel eventually caught and passed Iserbyt for the win. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Iserbyt finished second and kept his lead in the DVV Trofee classification. Van Kessel took third.

Van Aert finished fifth, as he was beaten in the sprint for fourth by Merlier. When he passed the finish line, van Aert pointed to the sky, a tribute to his recently deceased grandmother.

Wout van Aert battled hard and finished fifth. 2019 Azencross, Loenhout. © B. Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) finished 17th, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) 20th, Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 24th, Michael van den Ham (Easton-Giant p/b Transitions LifeCare) 25th, Andrew Juiliano (Voler Pro CX / Cure IBD p/b Shi) 37th, Max Judelson (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster) 44th, Cameron Jette 45th and Andrew Giniat (The Pony Shop p/b KPMG) 47th.

Full results are below.

Rank BIB Last Name First Name Country Result
1 1 VAN DER POEL Mathieu NED 1:00:26
2 9 ISERBYT Eli BEL 1:00:35
3 7 VAN KESSEL Corne NED 1:01:18
4 11 MERLIER Tim BEL 1:01:39
5 3 VAN AERT Wout BEL 1:01:40
6 13 MEEUSEN Tom BEL 1:01:42
7 4 VANTHOURENHOUT Michael BEL 1:01:45
8 30 BOSMANS Wietse BEL 1:01:48
9 14 AERNOUTS Jim BEL 1:02:05
10 5 VAN DER HAAR Lars NED 1:02:07
11 6 SWEECK Laurens BEL 1:02:25
12 25 ORTS LLORET Felipe ESP 1:02:29
13 10 ADAMS Jens BEL 1:02:30
14 17 AERTS Thijs BEL 1:02:31
15 15 BAESTAENS Vincent BEL 1:03:02
16 39 RÜEGG Timon SUI 1:04:19
17 57 HYDE Stephen USA 1:04:49
18 8 VAN DER POEL David NED 1:05:02
19 19 LOOCKX Lander BEL 1:05:21
20 68 WHITE Curtis USA 1:05:35
21 70 DORIGONI Jakob ITA 1:06:09
22 69 BOROŠ Michael CZE 1:06:11
23 62 ZAHNER Simon SUI 1:06:12
24 61 WERNER Kerry USA 1:06:31
25 43 VAN DEN HAM Michael CAN 1:06:46
26 54 GROENEN Klaas NED 1:06:56
27 56 SUAREZ FERNANDEZ Kevin ESP 1:07:09
28 66 PEERS Nick BEL 1:07:18
29 33 BOULO Matthieu FRA 1:07:19
30 58 DE MEYER Senne BEL 1:07:24
31 65 VAN STAEYEN Maarten BEL -1 LAP
32 47 BAKX Kelvin NED -1 LAP
33 45 TIELEN Dario BEL -1 LAP
34 22 LEAERTS Yelle BEL -1 LAP
36 18 WOUTERS Sieben NED -2 LAPS
37 49 HÄHNEL Frederik GER -2 LAPS
38 67 JUILIANO Andrew USA -2 LAPS
40 32 AALRUST Henrik Lunder NOR -2 LAPS
41 63 HAUSSLER Heinrich AUS -2 LAPS
42 35 COMINELLI Cristian ITA -2 LAPS
43 44 MOTTIEZ Gilles SUI -2 LAPS
45 42 JETTE Cameron CAN -4 LAPS
46 24 POBLET DOT Albert ESP -4 LAPS
47 23 GINIAT Andrew USA -4 LAPS
48 53 LE BAIL Tony FRA -4 LAPS
49 26 KOYEN Niels BEL -4 LAPS
51 29 EDHOFER Thomas GER -5 LAPS
52 36 TURSI Loris ITA -5 LAPS
53 41 OGER Vincent BEL -5 LAPS
55 37 DALLA PIETA’ Kevin ITA -5 LAPS