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The Big Three dominates Gavere quagmire, van der Poel claims hat trick of World Cup victories

Vanthourenhout closes in on series leader Sweeck

After a three-way tussle on Friday, the Big Three–Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Aert and Tom Pidcock–finally threw down in a 2022-2023 World Cup at Monday’s very mucky Boxing Day round in Gavere, Belgium. Van der Poel took a hat trick of World Cup victories this season, having triumphed in the Hulst and Antwerp rounds around a month ago. Michael Vanthourenhout closed the distance on Laurens Sweeck at the top of the World Cup table, a single point between them. The top Canadian was Evan Russel.

After ten rounds, Laurens Sweeck led Michael Vanthourenhout by 22 points atop the table. Eli Iserbyt had to miss the race after injuries suffered in snowy Val di Sole. On Friday Van Aert beat van der Poel in the Exact Cross Mol-Zilvermeercross in Mol, Belgium, Pidcock rounding out the podium.

The Canadian contingent was Evan Russell and Alexander Woodford. The usually reliable Cameron Jette did not start.

Van der Poel and Pidcock led Van Aert on Lap 1 before the Brit pulled away solo on Lap 2, the big Dutch rider suffering a flat. Van der Poel and Van Aert ran where Pidcock rode to yank him closer. Vanthourenhout and Sweeck trailed the trio. Russel was top Canadian in 70th.

Pidcock leading solo on Lap 2.

On Lap 3 of 6, Van Aert and van der Poel kept Pidcock within arm’s length. Van Aert ran past the world champion. Pidcock reestablished the lead before van der Poel charged clear, making a great save when it looked like he was going down.

Van der Poel makes a nice save in the quagmire.

Van der Poel entered Lap 4 with a 14-second gap over his two main rivals. Pidcock drew him closer before the penultimate lap, Van Aert having to go deep to find the rainbow jersey’s wheel.

On the penultimate lap Pidcock grabbed the reins again. Van Aert toiled a handful of seconds behind. Suddenly the Brit was the one lagging a bit, the Dutchman solo off the front.

By the bell lap Pidcock was 25 seconds in arrears and Van Aert trailing by 14. A string of spit dangling from his chin, Van Aert churned away in pursuit but to no avail.

Round 12 is January 8 in Zonhoven, Belgium

2022-2023 UCI ‘Cross World Cup, Round 11, Gavere
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 57:14
2) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) +0:27
3) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain/Ineos) +0:54
66) Evan Russel (Canada)
75) Alexander Woodford (Canada)