Mathieu van der Poel, right, saw off competition from his rival Wout Van Aert ©Getty Images

Mathieu van der Poel secured a fourth International Cycling Union (UCI) Cyclo-cross World Championship title of his career with a dominant display in Ostend.

The Dutch star was seeking a third consecutive victory at the World Championships, but expected to face a strong challenge from his rival Wout van Aert of Belgium.

Van Aert appeared to have the advantage early in the race after van der Poel suffered a crash on the second lap of competition, which featured tough sand sections.

A strong recovery saw van der Poel regain contact on the third lap, before taking charge when Van Aert suffered a puncture.

Van der Poel saw his advantage increase to around 20 seconds after five laps of the event, which he steadily increased in the final three laps of the competition.

A fourth cyclo-cross world title was sealed when he crossed the line in a time of 58min 57sec.

Van Aert was left settling for second place at 37 seconds down.

The podium was completed by Belgium’s Toon Aerts at 1:24, after he finally distanced Tom Pidcock to eventually end 13 seconds clear.

Van der Poel’s triumph ensured the Dutch team completed a clean sweep of world titles, with Fem van Empel having won the women’s under-23 event earlier in the day.

The 18-year-old, who switched from professional football to focus on cycling in 2019, produced a crucial attack on the final sand section of the race.

Van Empel edged ahead in the closing stages to win in 36:59, ending just three seconds clear of her compatriot Aniek van Alphen.

Hungary’s Kata Blanka Vas was nine seconds behind the winner in third.