Week after week Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) has racked up top results during the biggest races of the cyclo-cross season. With a third Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee win in Hasselt, Belgium, the latest scalp on his palmarès gives Pauwels a clean sweep in the series so far.
This season Pauwels has stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a top favorite. With five victories and five podiums out of 12 starts Pauwels holds a 12 point lead on world champion Zdenek Stybar and 21 on third placed Sven Nys in the eight-race series.
"It's looking good for me as it's quite a lead already," Pauwels said.
Nys, the winner of seven of the past nine GvA Trofees overall is hoping that Pauwels will fade in the second half of the season. "It's getting harder each week to win but I'll keep trying to gain points when the others let the points slip away," Nys said. "It's a massive lead but was it different last year? I think I only started gaining back ground on Pauwels after Hasselt."
At this time last year, Stybar led the GvA Trofee by 4 points over Pauwels and 21 on Nys, but in the end Nys won the overall by 6 points. While Nys is on the ropes once again, the battle for the overall win is far from over.
The elite cyclo-crossers head to Gavere tomorrow for the fourth round of the Superprestige series, inn which Pauwels is largely out of contention after a devastating 13th place in Ruddervoorde. However, Pauwels is brimming with confidence after his latest exploit.
"I can win there. The course suits me and I've been a runner-up already. Today I felt that Stybar was the strongest man in the lead group and that became obvious in the final lap," Pauwels said after narrowly defeating Stybar in the sprint in Hasselt.
So far the dry weather and the resulting fast courses benefitted Pauwels but Nys didn't want to use that as an excuse. "I've said it too much before and I don't want to sound like a sorehead. It seems like the harder I ask for rain the longer it takes before it comes down," Nys said.