A strong Van der Poel claims victory in Gavere
Monday 26 December 2022
In the mud in Gavere, we had a real battle of the titans. After a fantastic clash between the big 3, it was Mathieu van der Poel who triumphed. Wout van Aert finished second, with world champion Tom Pidcock taking third spot on the podium.
The riders were clearly up for it and in front of an enthusiastic crowd, they immediately got off to a fast start. Among others, UCI World Cup leader Laurens Sweeck, Lars van der Haar, Mathieu van der Poel and world champion Tom Pidcock shot out of the starting blocks. Belgian champion Wout van Aert was a little way behind.
But during the following running stretch, Van Aert was able to make up a lot of ground. While Van der Poel put the others under pressure, Van Aert managed to get back to the front of the race after a good running stretch. Van der Poel took a small lead while, behind him, we saw Pidcock, Van Aert, Sweeck and a strong Vanthourenhout. Pidcock made the jump to Van der Poel, pushing Van Aert into the chase.
At the start of the second lap, Van der Poel suffered a flat tyre leaving Pidcock as the sole leader. After his mandatory bike change, Van der Poel was joined by Van Aert. But that was short-lived. A strong Van der Poel left the Belgian behind and set course towards the world champion.
Van Aert fought his way back to Van der Poel, after which they rode together chasing Pidcock. After a stretch where Van Aert and Van der Poel ran while Pidcock stayed on the bike, the three came back together. Behind them, European champion Vanthourenhout rode a strong race in fourth place.
Van der Poel took risks, but they paid off. With help from a pad, he was just able to stay on his bike on a descent, but the Dutchman was able to take a small lead. Van Aert and Pidcock stayed together and put each other under pressure. It was initially Pidcock who could catch up with Van der Poel, with Van Aert closing in a little later.
But it continued to be Van der Poel who put pressure on the others. The first to be dropped was world champion Pidcock. After which Van Aert also had to acknowledge the superiority of Van der Poel who, for the third time in his career, took the win in Gavere. Van Aert came second and world champion Pidcock took third place.