Van Anrooij en Van der Poel were the best in Gavere
Gavere was part of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup for the first time on Monday 26 December. After races on a leaden course, two Dutch riders were allowed to take victory. Shirin van Anrooij won the Women Elite race, while in the Men Elite category Mathieu van der Poel made it ahead of Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock.
Dutch rider Shirin van Anrooij gave herself a nice Christmas present. In Gavere, she solo won her second UCI World Cup round of the season. On a tough and muddy course, she left her teammate Brand behind. Pieterse took third place.
It was Marie Schreiber, after a fast start, who initially towed the peloton along. Everyone seemed to get through the first few metres well, but Lucinda Brand, winner of the last two crosses in Gavere, was left to chase after a wobble. It was Puck Pieterse, Shirin van Anrooij and Kata Blanka Vas, among others, who filled the places at the head of the race.
Pieterse was the first to achieve a small gap in the lead while, behind her, Van Anrooij also managed to distance herself from her rivals. However, the two young Dutch riders eventually came together. Meanwhile, Brand, Vas and the18-year-old Zoe Bäckstedt were battling it out for third place.
After a passage in the pit, Van Anrooij suddenly took the lead, Pieterse was pushed into chasing her and Vas was also on the move. Entering the second lap, Van Anrooij’s lead amounted to 10 seconds, but Pieterse did not give up and was soon fighting back. The two got back together, but then Pieterse suffered equipment failure. She failed once to change bikes, after which her wheel did not spin properly through the mud. After finally changing bikes, she had fallen back into fifth place, 40 seconds behind leader Van Anrooij.
Behind the leader, Brand had already had quite a catch-up race. She fought her way to join Vas and was getting closer to Van Anrooij. Brand broke away from Vas and got sight of her teammate Van Anrooij. The two came together for a moment, but it was Van Anrooij who was able to break away again. Van Anrooij entered the final lap solo and her victory was no longer in doubt. Brand came second. Behind them, Pieterse was able to pass Bäckstedt and Vas and took the final spot on the podium.
In the mud in Gavere we got a real duel of titans. After a superb battle between the big 3, it was Mathieu van der Poel who got the win. Wout van Aert came second, world champion Tom Pidcock secured third place on the podium.
The riders were clearly up for it and in front of an enthusiastic crowd, they immediately got off to a fast start. Among others, UCI World Cup leader Laurens Sweeck, Lars van der Haar, Mathieu van der Poel and world champion Tom Pidcock shot out of the starting blocks. Belgian champion Wout van Aert was a little way behind.
But during the following running stretch, Van Aert was able to make up a lot of ground. While Van der Poel put the others under pressure, Van Aert managed to get back to the front of the race after a good running stretch. Van der Poel took a small lead while, behind him, we saw Pidcock, Van Aert, Sweeck and a strong Vanthourenhout. Pidcock made the jump to Van der Poel, pushing Van Aert into the chase.
At the start of the second lap, Van der Poel suffered a flat tyre leaving Pidcock as the sole leader. After his mandatory bike change, Van der Poel was joined by Van Aert. But that was short-lived. A strong Van der Poel left the Belgian behind and set course towards the world champion.
Van Aert fought his way back to Van der Poel, after which they rode together chasing Pidcock. After a stretch where Van Aert and Van der Poel ran while Pidcock stayed on the bike, the three came back together. Behind them, European champion Vanthourenhout rode a strong race in fourth place.
Van der Poel took risks, but they paid off. With help from a pad, he was just able to stay on his bike on a descent, but the Dutchman was able to take a small lead. Van Aert and Pidcock stayed together and put each other under pressure. It was initially Pidcock who could catch up with Van der Poel, with Van Aert closing in a little later.
But it continued to be Van der Poel who put pressure on the others. The first to be dropped was world champion Pidcock. After which Van Aert also had to acknowledge the superiority of Van der Poel who, for the third time in his career, took the win in Gavere. Van Aert came second and world champion Pidcock took third place.