Mathieu van der Poel Triumphs in Hulst World Cup Amidst Adverse Circumstances

Mathieu van der Poel Hulst 2023 (Belga)

In the latest round of the World Cup in Hulst, Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel continued his winning streak, securing his seventh victory since his mid-December return to the field. The race saw Joris Nieuwenhuis claim second place, followed by Lars van der Haar and Pim Ronhaar, while Wout van Aert, after an early setback, finished fifth.

Van der Poel, facing a busy schedule between Christmas and New Year, lined up for the World Cup in Hulst, his first race since his World Cup win in Gavere on Boxing Day. In Hulst, he faced formidable rivals Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock. However, the race did not unfold as expected for the ‘Big Three’. Pidcock suffered a fall in the opening lap, leading to a significant delay, while Van Aert also encountered issues early on, falling and experiencing mechanical problems that hampered his performance.

Van der Poel, meanwhile, managed to navigate the early chaos. He broke away from a leading group of five riders in the third lap and maintained his lead throughout the race. Behind him, a trio of Baloise Trek Lions riders – Nieuwenhuis, Van der Haar, and Ronhaar – engaged in a pursuit but could not close the gap. By the final stages, Van der Poel’s victory was assured, marking his sixth win in Hulst.

The race was not without controversy, as Van der Poel was seen spitting towards spectators who reportedly hurled beer and urine at him. This incident led Wout van Aert to publicly support Van der Poel, condemning the disrespectful behaviour of some fans. Van Aert himself, despite a challenging race with multiple setbacks, managed to finish in the top five.

Pim Ronhaar also made headlines with a racing incident involving Wout van Aert, which Ronhaar later clarified was not intentional. He expressed his satisfaction with his performance and his team’s overall strategy.

The race in Hulst highlighted the resilience and skill of these top cyclocross athletes, with Van der Poel’s dominance evident despite the adverse conditions and challenges faced by his competitors.

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Main photo credit: BELGA

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