Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Bingoal) took the win at the second round of the Soudal Classics in Hasselt, going solo on lap one in awful conditions. Jens Adams (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) finished second, 17 seconds back, while Eli Iserbyt (Marlux-Bingoal) took third at 26 seconds.
It was the first victory of the season for Pauwels, and his first major cyclo-cross win since 2015’s Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde. The veteran rider got away on the first lap of the race, building up a lead on his own before a chase could get organised.
Pauwels was imperious out front, and by the halfway point, Adams’ second place looked secure too. The battle for third raged until the closing laps, however, with Iserbyt going on the offensive after a mistake by Corné van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions).
From the start of the race, it was Pauwels who took control, riding to the front at the start and quickly going on the attack. He was soon joined by Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles), with the wide-open field ensured by the absence of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert leading to aggressive racing from the off.
By the end of the first lap, Pauwels was out on his own, nine seconds up on a large chasing pack, which itself would soon be whittled down by a number of attacks. During lap two, a small chase group emerged, with David van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Van Kessel and Pauwels’ teammate, U23 world champion Eli Iserbyt separating themselves from the chase group.
Meanwhile, Adams had snuck between the leader and the chasers, ploughing a lone furrow in pursuit of Pauwels. But at the rate Pauwels was going, it was almost as if Van der Poel was riding around in the light blue of Marlux-Bingoal. The 34-year-old was 24 seconds up on Adams at the end of lap four, while the chasing trio lay a further seven seconds back.
Heading into the race’s final laps, there were no inroads being made into the leads of either Pauwels or Adams, and so the main focus was on the battle for third. Van der Poel was the first to fall back, with Iserbyt glued to Van Kessel’s wheel as the Telenet man upped the pace.
Van Kessel’s slip exiting a corner on lap eight was all the invitation Iserbyt needed to slip by, and the 21-year-old duly took advantage to quickly eke out a gap. Unbothered by any challenges from behind, Iserbyt held on to third all the way to the finish.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal||1:02:19|
|2||Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:00:17|
|3||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal||0:00:26|
|4||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - Circus||0:00:31|
|5||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Corendon - Circus||0:00:35|
|6||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:01|
|7||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon - Circus||0:01:06|
|8||Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan - Charles||0:01:13|
|9||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions|
|10||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:34|
|11||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal||0:01:49|
|12||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:56|
|13||Yannick Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:02:11|
|14||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:02:50|
|15||Braam Merlier (Bel) Creafin Tüv Sud||0:02:54|
|16||Jelle Camps (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:03:18|
|17||Jenko Bonne (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex||0:03:28|
|18||Thomas Joseph (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal||0:03:38|
|19||Arno Debeir (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal|
|20||Maxim Dewulf (Bel)||0:03:45|
|21||Arno Van Den Broeck (Bel)||0:04:04|
|22||Berne Vankeirsbilck (Bel)||0:04:14|
|23||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tarteletto - Isorex||0:04:26|
|24||Victor Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:04:55|
|25||Robin Alderweireld (Bel)||0:05:02|
|26||Loic Hennaux (Bel)||0:05:14|
|27||Cameron Mason (GBr)||0:05:24|
|28||Arne Vrachten (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex||-1 lap|
|29||Senne De Meyer (Bel)||-2 laps|
|30||Jens Gys (Bel)||-2 laps|
|31||Jarne De Meyer (Bel)||-2 laps|
|32||Yoni De Bock (Bel)||-3 laps|
|33||Marvin Schmidt (Ger)||-3 laps|
|34||Maarten Clauwaert (Bel)||-4 laps|
|35||Luc Turchi (Lux)||-4 laps|
|36||Niels Koyen (Bel)||-4 laps|
|37||Benjamin Sydlik (Ger)||-4 laps|
|38||Kwinten Stuer (Bel)||-4 laps|
|39||Leonardo Cover (Ita)||-4 laps|
|40||Pieter Meelberghs (Bel)||-5 laps|
|41||Mauro Caneva (Ita)||-5 laps|
|42||Glenn Verbeeck (Bel)||-5 laps|
|43||Wessel Coppelmans (Ned)||-5 laps|
|44||Finlay Robertson (GBr)||-5 laps|
|45||Jelle De Bock (Bel)||-5 laps|
|46||Eric Meyers (Lux)||-6 laps|
|47||Václav Krejčí (Cze)||-7 laps|
|48||Felix Stephan (Ger)||-7 laps|
|DNF||Pieter-Jan Vliegen (Bel) Steylaerts - 777|