Alvarado and van Aert speed to victory in Heusden-Zolder
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado has won her third victory of the season in the Telenet Superprestige on and around the Zolder circuit. The Dutch racer was able to maintain a lead over Inge van der Heijden in the final lap. Lucinda Brand completed the Dutch podium. Wout van Aert took control of the Telenet Superprestige round in Heusden-Zolder. Mathieu van der Poel broke the race open early and rode the entire race in the lead together with Van Aert. The Belgian champion beat Van der Poel in the sprint after the Dutchman’s foot shot out of his pedal.
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado claimed the holeshot on the Zolder circuit. The Dutch racer looked at the start eagerly and took the initiative in the opening minutes. Her compatriot Denise Betsema was also off to a good start. She took over the head of the race moments later, but on the fast Heusden-Zolder race circuit, it was not easy to build up a lead. Eight women started the second lap wheel to wheel.
After a few changes of position in the front, there was a slight separation at the end of that second lap. A mistake by Norbert Riberolle brought Lucinda Brand down as she was cycling uphill. The Dutch racer came off unscathed, but Alvarado, Betsema and Van der Heijden suddenly had a bonus of several seconds. Brand was not going to give up yet. Half a lap later, she joined the front trio with Silvia Persico in her wake.
The five did not stay together for long, as moments later, Alvarado and Van der Heijden broke away after a mistake by Betsema.
The Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal rider tried to make up the deficit with Persico at her wheel, but Alvarado was not sitting still in the front, either. She entered the last lap with a three-second lead over Van der Heijden. Betsema, Persico and Brand followed 12 seconds behind the leader. Alvarado gained wings and steadily built on her lead. The first two podium places looked set, as Inge van der Heijden also had a comfortable advantage over the chasing trio. Still, Lucinda Brand thought otherwise. The Dutch racer accelerated and passed Persico and Betsema. The Baloise Trek Lions rider even tried to threaten Van der Heijden’s second place, but ultimately ended up on the last podium place.
Thanks to her third victory in the Telenet Superprestige this season, Alvarado has made up a large part of her deficit in the standings. Denise Betsema, who finished fifth, remains the leader with a point ahead of Alvarado.
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Thijs Aerts surprised everyone at the start. The Belgian from Baloise Trek Lions launched into the field in pole position and took charge of the first few minutes of the race. Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert rode wheel to wheel in third and fourth place after a good start, but that did not last long. Even before five minutes were on the clock, Mathieu van der Poel sped to the head of the race. Wout van Aert was the only one able to keep up with his pace. After that solid first lap, the two had already built up a 19-second lead.
Quinten Hermans caused a new order in the chasing group. Michael Vanthourenhout and Tom Pidcock followed in his wake, but the three were keeping an eye on each other. That is how they had already been dealing with a gap of 23 seconds behind after two laps. Van der Poel and Van Aert kept taking turns putting each other under pressure, but neither managed to get rid of the other.
Halfway through the race, the clock showed a lead of 41 seconds. A mistake by Hermans reduced the chasing group to four riders: Pidcock, Sweeck, Vanthourenhout and Vandeputte. A little later, Vandeputte was forced to relinquish his position in the chasing group. Lars van der Haar replaced him in the foursome. In the sixth lap, Pidcock pushed himself to the max. At first, Michael Vanthourenhout tried to cling on, but a little later, Pidcock rode around alone in the third position. The world champion seemed to finish the last 15 minutes of the race alone, but Van der Haar caught up with him with Michael Vanthourenhout at his wheel. The Dutchman clearly still had energy left and, in turn, put Pidcock under pressure, to Michael Vanthourenhout’s disadvantage.
At the start of the last lap, Van Aert and Van der Poel were still riding together on the Zolder circuit. The two didn’t give each other even a metre of space and got ready for a sprint on the Zolder circuit. Van Aert started the attack far from the finish and beat Van der Poel, whose foot shot out of his click pedal. Lars van der Haar held Pidock off for third place.