Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) left nothing to chance on his way to a second elite World Cup win of the season in Hulst, powering away from his longtime rival Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), whose second place puts him out of reach in the overall World Cup standings.
Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions) was hot out of the blocks, hitting the front on the fast grassy section that opened proceedings. As a bottleneck caused problems for a large number of riders, a lead group of the usual suspects eased away.
A decisive moment came when Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) – looking for his eighth win from eight this season – was working his way up through the group when he suffered a fatal mechanical. With the Belgian champ wrestling his stubborn chain, the pace at the front went into the red as Van der Haar and Iserbyt led the charge alongside the moat and up the first impossibly steep rampart, a hallmark of the infamous Hulst course.
Pidcock first hit the front on the third lap of nine, using the long and flat waterside section to put the pressure on his nearest rivals. Iserbyt was soon back on the Brit’s wheel, but Pidcock did not ease off, and he’d opened up a small gap by the end of the fourth lap.
With five laps of the wearing circuit still to go it was by no means a done deal, but Pidcock’s advantage crept up with every passage of the finish line. Though Iserbyt clawed back a couple of seconds as the race neared its finale, his nemesis had enough in the tank to keep the World Cup leader at bay.
With 12 seconds to spare, the British national champion celebrated a second elite win on Dutch soil, while Iserbyt was happy to settle for second, extending his overall World Cup lead to an unassailable 95 points over teammate Michael Vanthourenhout. Van der Haar was the first Dutch finisher in third, and Van Aert managed a remarkable fourth after nine laps of fighting through traffic.