Halfway the highly contested cyclo-cross series of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, an unfamiliar name tops the general classification. After the fourth round of the series in Essen on Saturday, Belgian Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) holds a 10-point lead over Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet).
"Before the race, I had 17 points on Nys, and today I already lost seven points. I'm afraid those 10 points are not going to be enough for the overall victory; it won't be simple. Early on, I felt good, but during the final laps I felt like I was the weaker one of the three. I was only thinking about hanging on and staying with Nys," Pauwels said.
In the World Cup and the Superprestige Series, Pauwels is ranked in second place. A few weeks ago Pauwels said that he wasn't thinking about the classifications, but now he's no longer able to hide. "It's impossible not to think about it. During the race today, I was only looking after Nys [second overall in the GvA]."
Whatever the outcome in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, Pauwels has shown that he is a rider capable of beating the big three [Nys, Zydek Stybar & Niels Albert] on a good day. He's undoubtedly having one of his best seasons ever and will be one of the darkhorses for the Belgian championships.