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Van der Poel returns to World Cup with win after emotional week

Raymond Poulidor's grandson battles World Cup leader Iserbyt in Tabor

World champion Mathieu van der Poel returned to World Cup racing the week that his grandfather Raymond Poulidor passed away, winning in Tabor, Czech Republic on Saturday. An engrossing contest saw the Dutchman beat Belgian World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt. Having just returned to cyclocross after a busy road campaign, van der Poel has won four ‘cross races in a row.

Last weekend, van der Poel retained the European championship.

Van der Poel had to start from the third row, and World Cup leader Eli Iserbyt took the hole shot, with Corne van Kessel one of the leaders in Lap 1. It would be Iserbyt leading over the finish line after the first of eight 2.94-km laps.

Van der Poel was close to the leading pack on Lap 2 but he had to pit on Lap 3, having made a mistake on that circuit.

Midway through the race Lars van der Haar led, with Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout right behind him, and van der Poel and Van Kessel 14-seconds in arrears.

Finally, at the end of the fifth lap, van der Poel made the junction. The quartet of van der Poel, van der Haar, Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout carried on together on Lap 6 until Iserbyt attacked. Van der Poel covered it and the two put five seconds into van der Haar and Vanthourenhout by the end of the lap.

Van der Haar returned to the front and then charged to the front. The bell lap would be the stage for a thrilling conclusion. Iserbyt hit the gas and van der Poel closed the gap, with van der Haar tenaciously hanging on.

After the planks Iserbyt and van der Poel shook loose of van der Haar. Two-thirds of the way into the lap van der Poel skipped away. There was no celebration from the Dutchman.

Van der Poel was somber after beating Iserbyt.

Iserbyt leads last year’s champion Toon Aerts by 45 points at the top of the standings.

Next Sunday is the next round in Koksijde, Belgium before a month-long recess.

2019-2020 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Round 4, Tabor, Czech Republic
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Corendon-Circus 1:01:56
2) Eli Iserbyt (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) s.t.
3) Lars van der Haar (The Netherlands/Telenet-Baloise Lions) +0:12