Van der Poel rules in the Gavere mud
Tuesday 26 December 2023
After winning in Antwerpen, Mathieu van der Poel also tastes success in the World Cup round in Gavere. The world champion attacked again early in the race and did not tolerate any opposition. Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock flanked him on the podium.
Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) got the best start and was the first into the Gavere mud. It took until midway through the first lap before Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) showed himself. The world champion accelerated on an uphill stretch and quickly built a lead. Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) saw the danger and went after him. The Belgian ended the first lap 8 seconds behind Van der Poel. Behind these two, a group formed with Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions), Lars van der Haar and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal).
Van Aert did all he could to stay as close to Van der Poel as possible, but he could not close the gap. On the contrary; by the end of the second lap the gap between the two had grown to half a minute. Van Aert realised once again that there was nothing to be done about the world champion and eased off the gas.
Meanwhile, Van der Poel extended his lead further. Behind Van Aert, teammates Nieuwenhuis and Van der Haar continued to apply pressure. And behind them, Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) was doing a great job of catching up. The Brit started from the fourth row at the start, but with two laps to go a podium finish was within reach for him. Van der Poel was already assured of victory by then.
Van der Haar was the first to be dropped in the battle for the third podium spot. Pidcock gained the upper hand on Nieuwenhuis in the last lap. The Dutchman also had to deal with a flat tyre. Thus, after an impressive solo, Van der Poel pulled it off ahead of Wout van Aert. The world champion finished with an advantage of 36 seconds. Pidcock crossed the line at 58 seconds.