In a fiercely contested Superprestige Ruddervoorde, Eli Iserbyt of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal claimed his fourth consecutive win in a dramatic finale against Lars van der Haar. Despite making mistakes on the ‘tricky’ course, Iserbyt maintained his composure to snatch victory, asserting that it was one of his most challenging wins to date. Van der Haar, who finished second, also acknowledged the race’s high level of difficulty and unpredictability, citing that even the smallest errors made a significant impact.
Iserbyt was joined on the podium by his teammate Michael Vanthourenhout, who despite spending much of the race at the front, finished in third place. He admitted in a post-race interview that although he had anticipated a better outcome, he was generally pleased with the result. His performance was especially striking considering he led the race initially and put in a lot of work in the subsequent rounds.
The race unfolded in an uncommon manner, with a large group of riders remaining bunched up for extended periods. This phenomenon puzzled even the race’s top finishers like Van der Haar, Vanthourenhout, and Iserbyt, who were all pushing their limits. Van der Haar speculated that the course layout, featuring many straight paths that facilitated drafting, could have contributed to the unusual dynamics. He also noted the wind’s role in making it easier for riders to catch up when positioned behind one another.
During the latter stages of the race, the lead changed hands numerous times. Iserbyt eventually seized the opportunity in the penultimate round, creating a gap that Van der Haar and Vanthourenhout couldn’t close. Van der Haar applied pressure early on but was unable to sustain the momentum. Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout both acknowledged they were on their limits but managed to find the strength to catch up and subsequently launch a decisive attack.
The racers commented on the course conditions as well. Iserbyt stated the track was “super slippery” and required meticulous navigation to avoid mishaps. Vanthourenhout echoed the sentiment, adding that despite feeling strong in the early stages, he struggled to maintain the pace towards the end. Both riders are optimistic about their form as they look ahead to the upcoming European Championships.
Despite the tough conditions and intense competition, Iserbyt’s win consolidates his position in the Superprestige series, following his victory in Overijse last weekend. However, he dismissed the notion of being a favourite for the upcoming European Championships, citing Thibau Nys as the most likely contender.
Van der Haar, while disappointed, expressed satisfaction with his performance and strategy, even if he couldn’t outmatch Iserbyt. He remained enthusiastic about the course, despite acknowledging its challenges. Vanthourenhout, despite his podium finish, showed mixed feelings and indicated he had higher expectations. He also highlighted the strategic importance of positioning before each climb, reflecting on whether he had perhaps done “too much work” at the front early on.
2023 Superprestige Ruddervoorde Men result
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Main photo credit: Cor Vos