Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won the fourth round of the Bpost Bank Trophy cyclo-cross series in Hasselt and moves back in contention for the overall win in the series. Pauwels finished a handful of seconds ahead of young Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace).
Series leader Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) lost the sprint for third place from Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) at half a minute back from the winner. Combined with bonus seconds Pauwels takes back 51 seconds on Nys and he now stands at 1:07 in the general classification. Van Aert is third at 1:31.
“I didn’t expect to make up as much time as I did. Maybe more is possible but not if Nys has a good day, like I did today. Things are going great. Maybe I’m even riding better than in my best years,” 30-year-old Pauwels told Sporza.” It’s his fourth win in one of the major cyclo-cross series.
During the first two laps, two riders from the Telenet-Fidea team set off fireworks. After the sand passage in the second lap Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and teammate Tom Meeusen led the race with Van Aert and Pauwels, keeping a large chase group at 13 seconds. When approaching the intermediate sprint Meeusen tactically touched his brakes and offered Van Kessel a good lead. The Dutchman picked up 15 seconds, a few moments later Meeusen took 10 seconds and Pauwels the final five seconds. When Meeusen struggled in the sand and Van Kessel tumbled over the tree trunks, Pauwels and Van Aert took over the command.
By the time Nys moved to the front of the chase group the lead duo was leading by 10 seconds. The race became a battle between the duo Pauwels-Van Aert and the duo Meeusen-Nys. “At the moment we’re the two strongest riders. Then you know the right guy is up the road with you,” Pauwels said.
The gap remained 10 seconds for two laps but then the chasers had to bow their head when Pauwels increased the speed even more. He gapped Van Aert while the other chasers were trailing by nearly 20 seconds. Two laps later, Van Aert managed to bridge back up with Pauwels but the latter clearly had another card to play for the final lap. That card was played when Pauwels quickly opened up a gap over Van Aert with a smooth passage through the sand.
“I knew I had some margin to go faster in the corners. I went flat out through the sand. In the following corners I managed to increase my lead. No mistakes? That’s only possible when you’re really good. Today I had a really good day,” Pauwels said. The clearly pleased Belgian also won the Proximus Fastest Lap competition. He clocked 6:06 in the 10th thus final lap, riding nearly four seconds faster than Van Aert. Nys was third with a 6:15 in the sixth lap.
Van Aert knew Pauwels was the stronger man on Saturday. “I didn’t go well through the sand in that last passage. On the technical section he was much faster. I wasn’t feeling fresh so second place comes as a surprise to me,” Van Aert told Sporza. He added that he struggles with the barriers, tree trunks in this race. “I don’t dare to jump them. If I do it I’m so slow I’d better hop off the bike. Also the new disc brakes hindered my cornering,” Van Aert said.
Meeusen was pleased with his third place in Hasselt. “I blew up my engine early on and when they attacked I had a bad moment. Closing six seconds was possible but not more. A podium result in a series race is important for me,” he told Sporza.
Behind Meeusen it was Nys who settled for fourth place. Last year he won the GP Hasselt ahead of a frustrated Niels Albert and this year he entered the race with a comfortable lead of two minutes over Pauwels. That situation turned around quickly. Nys was never in contention for the victory on the fast and technical course. While Pauwels and Van Aert blasted away in front, Nys was at the back of the chase group.
Eventually the Belgian champion teamed up with Meeusen to limit the losses. For a while they held the leaders at 11 seconds. “I tried to lose as little time as possible. It was impossible to close the gap. You can go faster for 100 metres but not all the time. In the final lap they’re fighting for the win and I realized I was losing 10 more seconds. In the end it was half a minute and that’s too much. I didn’t expect too lose that much time. If it happens here then it can surely happen twice as much in Baal. It’s a fair competition. The strongest rider will win,” Nys told Sporza.
While Pauwels was heading for the win, his teammate Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was leaving the race, never recovering from a bad start. He tumbles from fourth to seventh place in the general classification at 6:39 from Nys.
Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano Development Team) had a rough ride in Hasselt. After a good start he lost ground with a flat tyre, later he went over the handle bars at the tree trunks. He was best of the rest in fifth place, finishing more than a minute behind winner Pauwels.
Van Kessel concluded his good first half of the race with a sixth place, holding off Sven Vanthourenhout (Crelan-AA Drink) in the sprint.
The Bpost BankTrophy cyclo-cross series is halfway with the next round being scheduled for December 20 in Essen.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||1:04:11|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:00:03|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:30|
|4||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:00:31|
|5||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Shimano Development Team||0:01:04|
|6||Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:30|
|7||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:01:31|
|8||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:01:53|
|9||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|10||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:57|
|11||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:29|
|12||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:02:48|
|13||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:02:49|
|14||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:02:54|
|15||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Project Cross Racing||0:03:22|
|16||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:03:30|
|17||Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continentaal Team||0:03:40|
|18||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:03:56|
|19||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:04:03|
|20||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:04:15|
|21||Stephen Hyde (USA)||0:04:24|
|22||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:05:11|
|23||Clement Lhotellerie (Fra)|
|24||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:05:47|
|25||Martin Bina (Cze) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:05:51|
|26||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|27||Christoph Ambroziak (Ger)|
|28||Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Ger)|
|29||Ramon Sagues Portabella (Spa)|
|30||Fabian Obrist (Swi)|