Three Gold Medals on STEVENS Super Prestige! The European Cyclocross Championships in Tabor/Czech Republic could not have worked out better for the teams riding STEVENS’ top-of-the-line ’cross bike. Mathieu van der Poel of Beobank-Corendon wins the Men’s Elite race in superior fashion.
Sanne Cant (Enertherm-Beobank) makes full use of her experience and sprinting capabilities in a duel for the home stretch. And Loris Rouiller, also Enertherm-Beobank, gives proof of his good shape in the U19-Juniors’ race. In addition Nikola Nosková (CZ) wins the Bronze Medal in the U23 Women’s race.
Mathieu van der Poel had obviously memorized the Tabor course very well since in 2015 he had become the youngest Elite World Champion there. This year, after a second place in 2016, it was about winning the European title. With 11 season wins under his belt he had been declared the favourite prior to the event, even more so since World Champion Wout van Aert could not participate due to health reasons.
Mathieu van der Poel met the expectations right from the start in impressive manner and was the first to enter the course. ”To start well was important because right at the beginning there was a hill traverse which is best when you are first to ride it,” he said after the race.
Another key section was the hurdles: Van der Poel was almost the only one to clear them by jumping in every lap. This gave him the advantage of better being able to accelerate for the subsequent climb. This was exactly what he did in lap two to drop his last remaining chasers Lars van der Haar und last year’s European champion Toon Aerts.
In the subsequent laps of the quite slippery course, Lars van der Haar chased persistently and kept close until the finale at only 20 seconds behind. Mathieu van der Poel finishing a flawless race becomes Elite European Champion for the first time after he already won twice as a junior. ”I have always loved this course after my starts in the youth category. It might have looked like an easy win but Lars was a really tenacious opponent.”
Behind the two Dutch nationals a 12-strong chase group followed. Even though most of them were Belgian they could not agree on making the chase a common effort – and therefore only went for third place. Earlier Mathieu’s brother David van der Poel did his part to not increase the pace of the pursuit.
Shortly before the finish and after the hurdle section, he had difficulties getting back on the bike. ”This way I lost the contact to the Belgians and reached the finish line a little behind. Otherwise the sprint might have become quite exciting.” Toon Aerts comes in third in front of Michael Vanthourenhout.