Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Correndon) won the opening round of the Superprestige in Gieten, after a scintillating show of pace in the final laps of the race. His main rival, current World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles), finished second, 15 seconds back, while third place went to a strong Laurens Sweeck (Era-Circus) at 27 seconds.
The Dutchman had started the race aggressively, leading from the gun and enjoying a slim four-second lead during the opening laps of the race. Van Aert, who had slipped in the first corner, lay in wait among the chasers, eventually bringing back van der Poel on lap three.
Laurens Sweeck, in fine form after his victory Neerpelt on Saturday, took charge of the race on lap four as the lead group swelled to around 10 riders. The Belgian was a mainstay on the front for much of the race, making a lead group on lap five that included van der Poel, Van Aert and Lars van der Haar (Telenet-Fidea Lions).
At that point of the race the gap to a chase group including Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) looked decisive, and it was clear that the lead four would contest the victory. Van der Poel spent his time looking comfortable in second wheel behind Sweeck, save for the Belgian’s lakeside attack on lap six.
Meanwhile, Van Aert got into some minor trouble, having to unclip on a tight muddy corner on lap seven. Nonetheless, he looked in much better shape than he had during the American World Cup openers, where he had finished seventh and 14th.
It was no surprise, though, that the winner in Iowa City and Waterloo would end up victorious here too. After his armchair ride for the mid-part of the race, van der Poel turned on the afterburners on lap eight. The 22-year-old accelerated on the start-finish straight, quickly dispatching Sweeck and van der Haar.
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