Van der Poel star of the show on Sint-Anneke beach
There was no stopping Mathieu van der Poel in Antwerpzen. The world champion had to correct a lopsided situation early in the race, but by lap three he had already embarked on an impressive solo. Van Aert came second, Iserbyt third.
The beginning of the race in Antwerp was actually chaotic. At the start, Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) shot out of his click pedal, which dashed his hopes of moving up from row two to row one. Then. in one of the first turns, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) went down. Van der Poel was also held up and had to embark on a long catch-up race.
From position 15, the world champion rode in no time to join the front ranks of the leading group. When Iserbyt made a slight error in lap three, Van der Poel moved into the lead for the first time. He immediately opened the throttle and quickly had a lead of 11 seconds over his rivals.
27 km/h, that was the speed at which Van der Poel rode around on the Linkeroever. His lead increased rapidly to more than 40 seconds ahead of the chasing group in which Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions) and co were clearly evenly matched. With two laps to go, World Cup leader Iserbyt was the one who pressed on the accelerator, putting pressure on Nieuwenhuis and Van Aert.
Entering the penultimate lap, this time it was Van Aert who rode onto Iserbyt’s wheel and he started to put pressure on him half a lap later. Iserbyt folded and Van Aert was on his way to second spot. But it was the man of the race who crossed the finish line with a lead of a little over half a minute. Van der Poel thus secured the win on the Linkeroever, just like he did last season.