Kevin Pauwels took his first elite victory in the C1 race in Overijse on Sunday. The Fidea Cycling Team rider, a former world champion in the junior and U23 categories, won in the 'mother of all classics'. by exploiting the rivalry between Sven Nys and Lars Boom in a tactical last lap.
"This is fantastic," 24-year-old Pauwels said, "especially because it was ages ago since I actually won a race so this feels great."
Belgian champion Sven Nys was alone in the lead during the first half of the race but was joined by Pauwels and the world champion Boom. The three leaders waged a tactical battle in the last laps that allowed the return of Boom's team-mate Bart Aernouts.
In the last lap Boom attacked in the descent from the Tenotsberg, without luck, before trying again on the climb through the meadow, again without luck. In the final kilometer Pauwels took over the lead from Boom and powered to the finish line with a small gap over Boom and Nys.
"For a moment I thought I would grab an easy victory, but then two guys with great legs managed to come back so I had to adjust my tactics," Nys admitted. "It was a great spectacle and I don't think anybody could get away on his own in the end so tactics decided the winner today."