All brilliant photos from Martine Verfaillie, our guest mum & photographer in Belgium

“The cross of the season!” It had been anticipated for weeks and all expectations were met. The difficult World Cup Cross was to be the 1st clash of the titans, but in addition to Van der Poel and Van Aert, Pidcock was also there since Gavere last week. The GB star carried on like a young foal and immediately wanted to set a course. He dragged in front, behind Van Aert and Vanthourenhout it tore. Van der Poel smelled the danger and bridged a 50-meter gap in one go.
The winner was already at the front by then. Eli Iserbyt was immediately knocked off course after he had to walk around for 5 minutes at the start due to chain problems. Toon Aerts, an excellent 2nd in Namur last year, suffered too much from a collision with a car on Friday’s training to make any impact.

Pidcock never got much of the lead: 3, 5, and 7 seconds were the passages at the finish. In the penultimate lap, not Van der Poel, but Van Aert closed the gap. My fellow countryman gave the better impression and seemed to have the best chances at that time, but Van der Poel appeared to have recovered enough from the connection at the front to immediately breakaway on the next climb. Pidcock’s armor showed cracks, it became a final round with the anticipated duel between Van Aert and Van der Poel. Any mistake would be fatal. 8 seconds, the Dutchman got nothing more. A grim Van Aert continued to put pressure, but Van der Poel finished it for the 5th time in Namur. Even if it was just: 3 seconds.

Top 10 result (65 entries)
1 Mathieu VAN DER POEL Alpecin-Fenix 1u03’59”
2 Wout VAN AERT Team Jumbo – Visma+ 3″
3 Thomas PIDCOCK Selection GB+ 11″
4 Michael VANTHOURENHOUT Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal + 1’07”
5 Quinten HERMANS Circus – Wanty Gobert + 2’09”
6 Lars VAN DER HAAR Telenet Baloise Lions+ 2’17”
7 Toon Aerts Telenet Baloise Lions + 2’53”
8 Daan SOETE Group Hens-Maes + 2’57”
9 Corne VAN KESSEL Circus – Wanty Gober + 3’25”
10 Ryan KAMP Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal + 3’31”
58 David CONROY Selectie – Ierland