Image 1 of 5
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) claimed his fifth career victory in the Heusden-Zolder round of the Superprestige, riding away from Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) on the final lap.
Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek) filled out the podium.
“It was another beautiful race. I am happy to have won here again,” Van Aert said. “I wanted to build up the race slowly today and didn’t mind riding together for a bit longer. I’ve been building up my stamina over the last few cyclocross races, and I knew that the last fifteen minutes were often in my favour. So, I am happy that I was able to make a difference here.”
After three straight losses to Mathieu van der Poel, Van Aert will close out 2023 with another head-to-head with the world champion at the World Cup in Hulst.
“It’s a nice circuit, and I’m looking forward to racing there. It is an intense course with a lot of steep climbs. I’ll try to recover for two days now so that I can take on Pidcock and Van der Poel on Saturday.”
Damp conditions packed the sand down and the lack of deep mud on the course led to a very fast Superprestige round in Heusden-Zolder.
In the absence of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who took a day off after dominating the World Cup in Gavere, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was the top favourite.
Kevin Kuhn (Circus-Reuz-Technord) rocketed off the start line to claim the holeshot, drawing out under-23 rider Tibor del Grosso (Alpecin-Deceuninck), but soon the big names came to the fore with Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek) taking over midway into the opening lap.
Van Aert started in a more relaxed fashion, holding sixth behind the two leaders, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), Niels Vandeputte (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Kuhn in a 13-rider leading group heading early in lap 2.
Van Aert led the reduced group into lap 3 with Ward Huybs (Baloise Trek), Iserbyt, Vandeputte, Nieuwenhuis and Del Grosso the only riders holding his pace.
Del Grosso put in a surprisingly confident ride, pushing the pace on the fourth lap and forcing Iserbyt and Van Aert to chase.
By the end of the fourth lap, it was Iserbyt pushing the pace and Van Aert found himself caught behind Joran Wyseure (Crelan-Corendon) and four seconds back, but soon the seven leading riders came back together.
Van Aert finally came to the fore on lap five after a mistake from Iserbyt, drawing out Del Grosso and opening a gap but he didn’t seem ready to push the pace.
He came to the line at the start of lap six with four companions – Vandeputte, Iserbyt, Nieuwenhuis, and Del Grosso but the ease in pace allowed Wyseure and Huybs to rejoin.
Van Aert finally put the pedal to the metal heading into the penultimate lap and, despite a dab, got away with Iserbyt scrambling across, leaving the rest of the group six seconds down.
Iserbyt tried to match the Jumbo-Visma rider but on the final lap, he had to relent, leaving Van Aert to solo to the victory.
Results powered by FirstCycling