Pauwels prevails in Ronse

On-form Belgian outsprints Stybar for victory

One week after his big win on the Koppenberg, in-form Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) nailed his third big win of the season on the Hotondberg in chilly Ronse, Belgium.

“So far my season has surpassed all expectations,” Pauwels said. During the second round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy on a hilly but fast course Pauwels held off world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Cycling Team) in the sprint. “This one is for my grandmother, it’s her birthday,” Pauwels said, dedicating the win to granny Fientje. With his two wins in two rounds the 27-year-old has strengthens his lead in the GVA-Trophy. Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) completed the podium. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) had an off-day and finished seventh.

“I already knew before the race that I was good. My legs felt really good,” Pauwels said. “I didn’t have a great start but together with Stybar I got into the lead of the race. He was at least as good as me. We worked together but I led in the meadows while he did the work on the pavement which was harder so I might have been the smartest today,” Pauwels said.

The first moves were opened by Pauwels’ team-mate Klaas Vantornout who claimed the holeshot. At the back of the group Jonathan Page (Planetbike) was putting the chain back on his bike. “I had a good start but my chain dropped because of all those bobbles in the descent,” Page said. Meanwhile Vantornout created a lead group with Pauwels, Stybar and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea). Nys, Bart Aernouts (Rabobank – Giant Offroad Team), while Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) bridged up halfway the second lap.

They were still too far back in the lead group by the end of the second lap to be in the mix for the intermediate sprint for bonus GVA points. Stybar outsmarted Nys and Pauwels to grab the 3 points at stake. After the sprint Nys set the pace up front and it turned out that he was trying to recover that way. “I had a really bad day and on such a fast course you run into problems. Until the intermediate sprint I was able to cover things up a bit and once in a while I was able to recover,” Nys said.

Aernouts seized his moment and accelerated at the end of the third lap with nobody keen on chasing him down. After three laps Aernouts led the race with 13 seconds on the first big chase group. “The pace was fast but I had something left to anticipate the acceleration from the big guns,” Aernouts said.

One lap later that big gun fired when Stybar hammered up the uphill stretch of pavement. Only Meeusen, Pauwels and Vantornout were able to keep up with the Czech. The Stybar-group quickly caught up with Aernouts while Nys and Albert trailed by 10 seconds after four laps. It wasn’t time to relax just yet as Pauwels added another notch to the pace and this time Aernouts, Vantornout and Meeusen cracked. Nys and Albert caught up with the three dropped riders but the gap with the duo in front was growing to 14 seconds after five laps, with Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) battling alone at 21 seconds.

It turned out only Albert had something left in the chase group and he powered away from the others. After the run up a hill Nys was clearly struggling, recovering with a standstill after. In front Stybar and Pauwels kept exchanging the pulls and after six laps they had 11 seconds on Albert and 33 seconds on Meeusen, Aernouts, Vantornout and a struggling Nys. “I soon realized that seventh place would be the best possible result. It’s not my usual classification so I’ll try to bounce back from this,” Nys said.

The good co-operation between the two leaders proved to be lethal against the Albert’s comeback and he lost 8 seconds on the seventh lap. The other chasers realized their run for the win was over as they trailed by a minute on the leaders.

“We all tried early on but we blew up our engine but if we don’t try we shouldn’t start. Those three men up front ride 1% or 2% too fast for us. We focused on the battle for fourth place,” Vantornout said. In the background a devastated Wellens pulled out of the race for unknown reasons.

During the penultimate lap Meeusen made the winning move for a placing. “I was sitting behind Nys and waited too long to get back on him. Nys was unable to go deep and once in a while he actually stopped to recover,” Vantornout said. In front the duo kept sharing the work and Stybar led the first half of the last lap while Pauwels took over halfway. In the final stretches in the meadow Pauwels accelerated and he entered the uphill finish line with 5 meters on the world champion. “It wasn’t possible to get rid of Pauwels so I did everything possible to get a sprint but in the last three corners he put me at 5 meters. There’s not much you can do against Kevin nowadays,” Stybar said.

Albert hit the final lap at only 9 seconds from the leaders but eventually he crossed the line in third place at 20 seconds from winner Pauwels. “Halfway I had a few bad laps but in the last four laps I was at least as good as the leaders. I wasn’t able to keep up in the beginning,” Albert said.

Meeusen was best of the rest at 54 seconds, ahead of Vantornout and Aernouts. An empty Nys was seventh at half a minute from these men. A few seconds later a surprisingly strong Marcel Meisen was ninth ahead of Joeri Adams (Telenet-Fidea) and Mariusz Gil (Baboco). The quick comeback into competitive racing after his arm injury for Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet) was quite successful with a 12th place as result.

More than three minutes behind winner Pauwels the sole US-representative Jonathan Page was 19th. “That’s hard work for such a result,” Page sighed. After a series of lackluster performances Page feels his form is coming back. “I think I had a bacterial infection. I’m pleased with today’s racing as I feel I’m on the way back up,” Page said.


#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor1:01:14 
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:02 
3Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:00:20 
4Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:00:54 
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:01:00 
6Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team0:01:11 
7Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:01:40 
8Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland0:01:44 
9Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:01:51 
10Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco0:02:08 
11Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Pro0:02:16 
12Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:02:56 
13Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.0:03:00 
14Robert Gavenda (Svk) KDL Trans-Landbouwkrediet0:03:01 
15Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team0:03:05 
16Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink/ Pro0:03:09 
17Patrick Gaudy (Bel) The Barracuda Company0:03:28 
18Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team0:03:32 
19Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike/Blue0:03:39 
20Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team0:03:50 
21Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:04:38 
22Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:04:48 
23Bart Hofman (Bel)0:05:03 
24Martin Zlamalik (Cze) KDL Trans-Landbouwkrediet- 3 laps 
25Toon Devenyns (Bel)  
26Jo Pirotte (Bel)  
27Dries Pauwels (Bel)- 4 laps 
28Kevin Cant (Bel)  
29Jimmy Tielens (Bel)  
30Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team- 5 laps 
31James Thompson (GBr) 8 laps 
Intermediate sprint
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team3 pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2 
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor1 
Fastest lap
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team5:19:09 
2Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea5:20:05 
3Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor5:20:08 
GVA Trophy standings after two races
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor54 pts
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team44 
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet40 
4Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea34 
5Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus33 
6Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team32 
7Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor31 
8Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea23 
9Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/Leontien.nl18 
10Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco17 
11Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus  
12Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team  
13Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland13 pts
14Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet12 
15Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea10 
16Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus  
17Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team  
18Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet9 pts
19Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea  
20Robert Gavenda (Svk) KDL-Trans Landbouwkrediet7 pts
21Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team  
22Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink/Leontien.nl5 pts
23Patrick Gaudy (Bel) The Barracuda Company4 
24Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling3 
25Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
26Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike/Blue2 pts
27Marco Bianco (Ita) L'Arcobaleno Carraro Team1 
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