World champion Mathieu van der Poel has been racing cyclocross for only 22 days, but he has won six races and come no lower than second in the other three. He earned win six on Friday as the new year was greeted by the GP Sven Nys, the fifth round of the X2O Badkamers Trofee, in Baal, Belgium. It was his fourth consecutive GP Sven Nys triumph.
Of the three main cyclocross series—World Cup, Superprestige and X2O Trofee—X2O has the most rounds left. After Baal, three races remain in the series. Before Saturday’s contest, four rounds had been raced, with the first two rounds going to series leader Eli Iserbyt, before van der Poel and Wout Van Aert both earned their first victories of the cross season at the next two. Iserbyt was back to racing after suffering an elbow injury at the Superprestige race on Boxing Day.
Of course, Friday was also a day for ringing in the changes. Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar’s Telenet Baloise Lions team was now Baloise Trek Lions sporting new duds.
Quinten Hermans was the early leader, with Van Aert on his wheel. Van der Poel, Aerts, Iserbyt, Corne van Kessel and Tom Pidcock were all accounted for at the pointy end of the race. At the end of Lap 1, there were seven riders together at the front.
Pidcock grabbed the reins on Lap 2 and led over the whoops.
Pidcock kept pressing and Van der Poel was only two-seconds in arrears at the end of the second circut. Michael van den Ham was 28th.
On Lap 3, Pidcock, van der Poel, Iserbyt and Van Aert put some real estate between themselves and the others. When the others snatched fresh bikes, Van Aert became the quartet’s engine.
Lap 4 saw Michael Vanthourenhout join the foursome, with Aerts threatening to make it a sextet. Van den Ham was in 33rd. Series leader Iserbyt led into the fifth of seven laps.
Van der Poel started to hammer on Lap 5, with Pidcock close on his wheel. A slip on the off-camber section delayed Van Aert and Iserbyt.
Pidcock kept the world champion within sight on Lap 6, with Wout Van Aert coming. The Dutchman kept pushing his lead, and soon had 13 seconds over the Brit and the Belgian. When van der Poel heard the bell he had 13 seconds on Van Aert and 20 over Pidcock.
Van der Poel retained eight seconds of his lead on the bell lap. Van Aert and Pidcock stood on the podium. Iserbyt’s fourth place extended his lead in the series. Van der Ham was disqualified for a pit infraction.
Yep, that was my race. And it’s not like I don’t know the rule. I definitely know the rule! Sometimes the race brain just doesn’t think too clearly I guess. As soon as I entered I knew I’d messed it up! https://t.co/o5fxEzFCUL
— Michael van den Ham (@MVDHcyclocross) January 1, 2021
Round six arrives January 23 in Hamme at Flandriancross. Sunday in Hulst, the Netherlands, is the setting for the next World Cup race.
2020-2021 X2O Trofee Round 5, GP Sven Nys, Elite Men
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherland/Alpecin-Fenix) 1:00:18
2) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) +0:08
3) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain/Trinity Racing) +0:32
DSQ) Michael van den Ham (Canada)