Ceylin Alvarado and Wout van Aert celebrate solo in Gullegem
Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado has won her fourth victory in this season’s Telenet Superprestige in Gullegem. The leader in the oldest regularity criterion went on the attack at the end of the second lap and successfully completed the solo. After Heusden-Zolder and Diegem, Wout van Aert has now also won the Telenet Superprestige round in Gullegem. The Belgian champion waited until halfway through the race to shake off Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout.
The rider off to the best start in Gullegem in West Flanders was top British talent Zoe Backstedt. She immediately upped the pace with the result that there was already a leading group of three riders halfway through the first lap. Only Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, the leader in the Telenet Superprestige standings, and Denise Betsema, third in the standings, could keep up with her. Backstedt clearly had no intention of waiting. She accelerated on one of the circuit’s mud sections, giving her an advantage of a few seconds at the end of the first lap.
The British rider changed bikes at the start of the second lap, leaving her in the company of Alvarado once again. The rider from Alpecin - Deceuninck wasted no time. Thanks to an excellent passage through the sand, she went on alone. Behind her, a chasing group was formed by Backstedt, Betsema and Van der Heijden. By the end of the second lap, Alvarado had already built up a nine-second lead.
At the start of the third lap, Backstedt tried to break away from the other two chasers, but after a poorer passage through the sand, Inge van der Heijden caught up to the British racer again. Denise Betsema then had problems on one of the difficult mud sections, leaving two chasing riders entering the fourth lap.
After Backstedt had another poor passage through the sand followed by a mistake in the mud, Van der Heijden was suddenly riding alone in the second position. Betsema did not resign herself to that situation. She was visibly feeling better and better. First she passed Backstedt and then she rode towards Van der Heijden, but that was only short-lived. After a bicycle change during the penultimate lap, she again faced being slightly behind.
The positions remained unchanged in the final lap in Gullegem. Ceylin Alvarado rode to her fourth win of the season in the Telenet Superprestige in West Flanders, strengthening her leading position in the standings. Her closest pursuer, Inge van der Heijden, came second. Denise Betsema completed the Dutch podium.
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Lars van der Haar was the first to enter the field in Gullegem. The Dutch champion briefly let Eli Iserbyt have the lead in the first lap, but took the initiative again not much later. Belgian champion Wout van Aert took a wait-and-see approach during the start of the race and maintained fifth position. At the end of the opening lap, there was a leading group of five riders: Lars van der Haar, Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout, Wout van Aert and Felipe Orts.
After ten minutes of racing, Michael Vanthourenhout decided enough was enough. He accelerated, jumped over the bars and suddenly had a five-second lead. Wout van Aert stirred into action and moved up to the second position. Vanthourenhout’s acceleration cost Felipe Orts his place in the chasing group. Half a lap later, the Belgian champion again caught up to Michael Vanthourenhout. Eli Iserbyt and Lars van der Haar followed in his tracks, forming a leading group of four riders.
Van Aert immediately shifted up a gear in the next stretch of mud. It was full steam ahead for the competitors. Michael Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt had to pull out all the stops, but managed to keep up with the Belgian champion, to Lars van der Haar’s disadvantage. Meanwhile, the weather started to play a
role on the West Flanders circuit. The rain made the mud slippery, forcing the riders to find the ideal tyre pressure.
After an excellent passage through the sand by Van Aert and a broken bicycle frame for Michael Vanthourenhout, the Belgian champion started the sixth lap on his own. Eli Iserbyt initially went all out to keep pace with him, but Van Aert proved too strong. The rider from Jumbo-Visma powered on and gradually increased his lead.
With two laps to go, the race seemed to be completely decided. Van Aert rode on with a 20-second lead over Iserbyt and 32 seconds ahead of European champion Michael Vanthourenhout. Van Aert’s lead was large enough that he could lift off a little in the last lap. Winning his third Superprestige round in a row, the Belgian champion was able to throw his arms in the air in victory as he crossed the finishing line. Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout flanked Van Aert on the podium.
Lars van der Haar lost a few points in the standings compared to the two Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal riders. With a lead of XXX points over Michael Vanthourenhout, the Dutchman heads to the last leg of the oldest regularity criterion in Middelkerke.