In a spectacular World Cup race in Namur, Mathieu van der Poel was the first to cross the finish line after more than an hour. Wout van Aert crossed the line second.
European champion Eli Iserbyt had certainly wanted a different start as he had to run on the first uphill stretch because his chain was off. At the front, World Cup leader Michael Vanthourenhout got off to a good start, with Wout van Aert in his wheel. Mathieu van der Poel had to come from the second row and he moved slowly but surely in the first lap.
Last week’s winner in Gavere, Tom Pidcock, made the first attacks; only Van Aert, Van der Poel and Vanthourenhout could follow the little Briton. Pidcock did not hold back in the second round, which led to small errors among his pursuers. He entered the third lap with a lead of about five seconds.
Van der Poel managed to close the gap in the sixth lap, but the world champion did not reach Pidcock’s wheel. At the start of the seventh round, the difference was five seconds. Pidcock played a cat-and-mouse game with Van Aert and Van der Poel, who had dropped Vanthourenhout.
In the eighth lap Van Aert and Van der Poel came on the wheel of Pidcock, which completely brought back the tension in the race.
Just after the start of the final lap Pidcock could not keep up with Van der Poel’s pace. Van Aert also had to drop, but the Belgian from Jumbo-Visma kept the pressure on his eternal rival.
Van der Poel, however, still had enough power to take the victory, three seconds ahead of Van Aert. Pidcock followed after a true spectacle in third.