The Netherlands made it four wins out of four at the UCI Cyclo-cross world championships in Ostend, Belgium, the Dutch star seeing off arch-rival Wout van Aert.
Mathieu van der Poel is the cyclo-cross world champion for the third year in a row.
The Dutch cycling phenom completed a gold medal sweep for the Netherlands at the UCI Cyclo-cross world championships in Ostend, Belgium.
Van der Poel took the world crown for the fourth time in his career, overtaking his arch-rival Wout van Aert from Belgium with three titles.
The 25-year-old battled with van Aert on the challenging course of the Belgian town, as riders had to complete 8 laps of a 2,900m circuit connecting the beach and the Wellington hippodrome.
After just three minutes into the race, van Aert and van der Poel immediately opened a gap from the rest.
Then on just the second loop van der Poel took a tumble allowing his rival to open up and stretch out a lead alone.
But at the end of the third lap van Aert suffered a front wheel puncture: MVDP stole ahead and held the lead until the end.
The Dutch 'Cross wizard' crossed the line 37 seconds ahead of van Aert, with fellow Dutch cyclist Toon Aerts holding off Tom Pidcock's charge to take bronze.
"It means a lot, but it feels really strange. It doesn't really feel a world championship. There's no crowd, no friends, no family around the track, but maybe when I will put the rainbow jersey on again on the podium it will come to mind that I'm world champion again," Van der Poel told UCI after the race.
"The flat tyre was a little bit of luck for me to come back, but at that moment I didn't feel the race was over yet.
"The course changed as we got a bit tired, it became a bit faster at the beach section. Then I felt better legs, by then I improved every lap as I was riding through the sand. The good feeling was growing lap by lap and I think that made the difference for me today."
Earlier in the day Fem van Empel of the Netherlands won the women's under 23 title,
Dutch riders also dominated on the first day: Pim Ronhaar claimed the men's under 23 gold medal, with Lucinda Brand taking the women's elite race.