Van der Poel wins at Van Aert's home
Van der Poel wins the Herentals X2O in the place where Van Aert was born and still lives. The race was marked by a great Adams who stayed with the two until the third lap and the absence of Pidcock, who resigned to participate after his crash in Baal. Otherwise, it was a monologue of the two usual riders, which was decided by an apparent flat tyre of Van Aert on the last lap when Van der Poel was launching an attack.
Van der Poel wins at Van Aert's home after a very close race in which the Belgian's flat tyre was decisive
The Herentals X2O was a special race for the two cyclocross greats. The Belgian town is Van Aert's birthplace and where he still resides. It was also an important day for Van der Poel, as this is where the Alpecin-Deceuninck headquarters are located and where part of the team lives.
The start went to Van der Haar, who took the lead, but with Van der Poel and Van Aert right behind him. Iserbyt also managed to quickly take the top spots.
Adams took the lead as the two beasts contained their energy behind him. The three of them opened a gap with the rest, who up to that point had remained on the wheel.
Adams was in sensational form and set a great pace from the start of the race. The first lap ended with these three riders in front and the second group formed by Iserbyt, Van der Haar and Ronhaar 6 seconds behind.
The second lap started without too many changes up front. Adams, who was rubbing shoulders with Van Aert and Van der Poel, was resisting to lose that privileged position. Van der Poel took the lead when they reached the big climb that characterizes the Herentals circuit.
Another pass over the finish line left the chasing group 13 seconds behind. Adams' great performance allowed him to race on equal terms with the two mud stars, who seemed to be saving their strength for later.
Adams' endurance came to an end halfway through the third lap. Van Aert and Van der Poel dropped the combative Belgian rider and the predictions that pointed to another duel between these two figures were fulfilled. This time, the Dutchman stayed behind Van Aert, who was leading the race.
The fourth lap started with Adams 3 seconds behind, after making up some time on the two leaders. The gap was maintained as the Orange Beast took the lead as they reached the run course.
From there, Adams was definitely off the pace. A few meters away, the two stars of the discipline seemed to be measuring their strength, waiting for the right moment to attack.
Van der Poel took some advantage after the pit stop, although they crossed the finish line together. Adams' great effort at the start of the race took its toll at the end of this lap, when he was caught by Ronhaar and Iserbyt.
As if that wasn't enough, Adams also suffered a crash in which he lost more seconds than he should have as he had to reposition the saddle.
The fifth lap ended with Van der Poel very close to Van Aert, although he had to push a little to close a small gap that the Belgian had opened. Behind, Iserbyt was 44 seconds behind riding solo.
Van der Poel again took the lead at the start of the track. It didn't take him long to set a slightly faster pace, but Van Aert responded immediately. Van der Haar (4th) caught Iserbyt (3rd) and they were set for a battle for the podium.
The seventh lap started like the others: Van der Poel and Van Aert were dominating and made it impossible to know which of the two had a stronger momentum, as both showed a very similar level.
The last lap started. The two hooked up and the doubt about whether either would try to attack or if both would play everything to the final sprint. The truce ended on the running track, where Van der Poel wanted to overtake Van Aert, who was quick to get back into the mud in front.
The Belgian gained a few meters of distance, but Van der Poel managed to catch up at a time when the two were no longer holding anything back. They took advantage of the next zone to catch their breath as they were getting closer and closer to each other.
The Dutchman pushed on as they left the pits to his right. Just then, Van Aert was shaking his head as he tried to react to what looked like a flat tyre at the worst possible moment.
Van der Poel crossed the finish line in first position, although he did not raise his arms over his rival. Van Aert appeared 20 seconds behind. Behind, Iserbyt won his particular duel with Van der Haar and took the last step of the podium.
X2O de Herentals – Élite Masculino
- Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 59’46’’
- Wout Van Aert +20"
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +31’’
- Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) +31"
- Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing Cross) +48"
- Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions) +1'16"
- Jens Adams (Chocovit Cycling Team) 1'22"
- Quinten Hermans (Alpecin - Deceuninck) +1'37"
- Tim Merlier +2'24"
- Daan Soete (Deschacht - Hens - Maes) +2'38"