Van der Poel dominates and wins the CX World Cup in Hulst
Mathieu Van der Poel cleared away all doubts with a resounding victory that could not be prevented by a solid Tom Pidcock. Pidcock tried his best to overcome the storm unleashed by the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider in a thrilling race marked by the mud that covered the technical circuit of the World Cup in the Dutch town of Hulst.
He came, he saw and he won: Mathieu Van der Poel is back
Knowing Mathieu Van der Poel's genius, few of us doubted beforehand that the script of the Cyclo-cross World Cup race on the Hust circuit would be one that we could enjoy despite starting from the back of the grid.
A tremendously technical circuit, full of steep descents and equally tough climbs where the mud was at that tricky point where it seems that the grip is good until suddenly, without knowing how, you find yourself on the ground.
A fast start with Lars Van der Haar trying to push the pace from the very first pedal strokes, but with no results, with a stretched but compact group, in which the main favourites were in the first positions.
And from the very beginning, Mathieu Van der Poel made a brilliant start and, despite the trails of the initial section, he managed to climb up to the top 10 positions in no time at all. As the first lap progressed, he reached the front group formed by Eli Iserbyt and Lars Van der Haar, and even led the race for a few moments before suffering an unexpected slip that relegated him to 9th place.
A few metres behind the leading duo, it was Tom Pidcock who tried to close the gap, steadily but surely, until he caught them at the end of the lap, dragging Laurens Sweeck and Michael Vanthourenhout. Without thinking about it, he made his gamble and went on to lead the race in an attempt to break up the race. The European champion went to the ground and it was Iserbyt who had to take over the chase.
Only Sweeck was able to offer resistance and he stuck to his wheel, while in a third group circulating at 17 seconds, Mathieu Van der Poel set the pace of the chase, reducing the gap by force. He would finish the lap catching Iserbyt and Van der Haar and taking them into the lead.
Tom Pidcock, who saw what was coming his way, tried to reopen the gap at the start of the fourth lap. As the tension increased, Iserbyt hit the ground a couple of times, dropping several places. Van der Poel, with more pace, managed to overtake Sweeck and went for the British rider. Midway through the lap, Pidcock made a mistake that forced him to put his foot down on a climb and Van der Poel moved into the leading position.
However, a willing Pidcock managed to keep up the pace, with a 6-second gap in an intense duel between Van der Poel, who was pushing hard at the front, and Pidcock, who was resisting to give up.
But there is a limit to everything and the INEOS-Grenadiers rider's tyre broke on the 5th lap and the gap was progressively increasing. Meanwhile, Laurens Sweeck was in third place, but already 25 seconds behind the leader of the race.
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The podium seemed to be sealed with the last lap to go, but the race was to have another surprise when Tom Pidcock's rear wheel was completely broken on a downhill descent. All this far away from the assistance point and he was forced to abandon the race.
Meanwhile, unopposed, Mathie Van der Poel enjoyed a resounding victory that banished the ghosts that haunted him last year. The podium was completed by Laurens Sweeck, who climbed up to the first place in the general classification, and Eli Iserbyt who managed to overcome the bad third lap, getting back to the podium and breaking the bad streak that accompanied him in the last races.
Hulst CX World Cup 2022 - Elite Men
- Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 57’09’’
- Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) +15’’
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +22’’
- Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) +30’’
- Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) +49’’
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +1’31’’
- Felipe Orts (Burgos-BH) +1’44’’
- Jens Adams (Chocovit Cycling Team) +1’50’’
- Toon Vandebosch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +2’11’’
- Kevin Kuhn (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) +2’18’’
CX World Cup overall classification
- Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads) 214 points
- Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 210 points
- Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 179 points
- Lars Van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) 162 points
- Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 122 points
- Toon Vandebosch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 95 points
- Jens Adams (Chocovit Cycling Team) 89 points
- Kevin Kuhn (Tormans Cyclo Cross Team) 81 points
- Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) 79 points
- Daan Soete (Deschacht-Hens-Maes) 76 points
Fem Van Empel and Puck Pieterse prove to be unstoppable
Both are only 20 years old and both are showing in these last races an overwhelming dominance that is starting to remind us of the exciting duels that Van der Poel and Van Aert have offered us for many years in the men's category.
We are of course talking about Fem Van Empel, who has been amazingly consistent since the beginning of the season, and Puck Pieterse, who seems to have reached her best form and is threatening the dominance shown by her compatriot.
On the Hulst circuit we experienced an electric start of the race, with Pieterse trying to establish the differences from the first meters. In the chase, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Fem Van Empel herself, although the former soon began to lose positions, suffering a lot on the steep climbs.
The first lap ended with Pieterse only 6 seconds ahead of Van Empel. A fight that would continue throughout the second lap while Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado continued with her suffering and was caught by Shirin Van Anrooij, with more than 50 seconds lost over the race leader.
On one of the first descents of the third lap, Fem Van Empel launched himself wildly, taking a risk and managed to close the gap to Puck in no time. She took the lead of the race, but only briefly, because on another steep descent she went to the ground with such bad luck that she twisted the steering and the chain came off. To make matters worse, when she resumed her ride she found that the electronic derailleur had been locked in protection mode, so that was the end of any chance of victory for the leader of the cyclo-cross World Cup.
The incident cost her 59 seconds at the finish line, although second place was not threatened as Van Anrooij was more than a minute and a half behind.
It should have been an easy finish for Puck Pieterse, but the course conditions were getting worse and worse and she also had to suffer a couple of crashes in the remaining two laps, coincidentally in the same place that cost Fem Van Empel the race. Fortunately for the young Alpecin-Deceunick rider, with no consequences other than losing a few seconds of her large lead.
Puck Pieterse took her second consecutive victory in the Cyclo-cross World Cup after the one achieved the previous weekend in the Overijse race, which consolidates her second position in the overall and allows her to close the gap with Fem Van Empel, who finished in second place, although the burden of not participating in the American races means that she is still far from the head of the standings.
The podium was closed by a solid Shirin Van Anrooij, who hardly made any mistakes, but with an insufficient level of form, at least in this race, to stand up to the two riders who seem destined to dominate cyclo-cross in the coming years.
Hulst CX World Cup 2022 - Elite Women
- Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 46’31’’
- Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) +42’’
- Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) +1’47’’
- Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +2’06’’
- Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) +2’12’’
- Marion Norbert Riberolle (Crelan-Fristads) +2’32’’
- Hélène Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) +3’31’’
- Inge Van de Heijden (777) +3’09’’
- Line Burquier +3’14’’
- Aniek Van Alphen (777) +3’33’’
CX World Cup overall classification
- Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 250 points
- Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 165 points
- Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 152 points
- Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) 134 points
- Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 134 points
- Inge Van de Heijden (777) 128 points
- Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) 117 points
- Hélène Clauzel (AS Bike Racing) 86 points
- Clara Honsinger 85 points
- Aniek Van Alphen (777) 82 points