Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won the restyled version of the GP de la Région Wallonne. The race featured as the fifth round of the Superprestige series with a course on the famous F1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. Pauwels profited from a late crash from Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano Development Team) to win solo on top of the Raidillon.
“It’s great. It was very tough. There were a lot of running sections so it wasn’t really tailor-made for me but I felt good. Beforehand I wasn’t sure I would win. I dug too deep early on because in the end I ran out of energy. Luckily everybody was tired so I was able to win. My first half of the season is a success,” Pauwels told Vier.
Pauwels and Van der Haar both move into the overall lead of the Superprestige series. Former leader Sven Nys (Crelan - AA-Drink) struggled on the steep Raidillon and only managed an eighth place. The disappointed Belgian champion avoided the media and immediately turned back to his bus after crossing the line.
The first few laps there were nearly no gaps in the long line of riders as they sped around the car circuit. Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) had a go but the German was caught back. After three laps, the recurring ascents of the Raidillon and ‘le Mur’, the incredibly steep run-up, started to sting. Only eight riders remained in front and when Kevin Pauwels attacked the masks fell off.
Early bird Walsleben had no answer ready and only Van der Haar managed to get back on Pauwels’ wheel with a big effort. The duo quickly created a gap of 15 seconds on a chase group containing Nys, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus), Jens Adams (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea). The gap grew up to half a minute when the riders hit the Raidillon for a sixth time. Suddenly Nys was dropped by the group. The Belgian champion kept the group in sight but never got back in contention. One lap later Van der Poel was leading the chase together with Meeusen when the latter jumped away on the Raidillon.
“It’s very hard with the headwind on the climb. Trying to follow Tom would’ve blown my engine,” Van der Poel told Vier. Meeusen quickly distanced the rest of the chasers. In front Pauwels did most of the work but still the duo hit the final lap together. Meeusen was at 16s when hitting the final lap, with Jens Adams best of the rest at half a minute.
“Today I had no answer to anything Kevin did. Twice I told him to take me with him,” Van der Haar told Vier. In an effort to reach out for the win Van der Haar moved to the front but crashed when cornering around a tree. Pauwels didn’t waste any time and sped to the victory. “In the final lap I tried to reach the ‘Mur’ in front but I crashed. Luckily my bike wasn’t broken,” Van der Haar said.
Pauwels had no trouble to bring the win home. Van der Haar had enough left to hold off Meeusen for second place. A late flat tyre cost Adams the fourth place which Van der Poel gratefully accepted.
With three rounds left, six riders are left in contention for the overall victory in the Superprestige series. The next round of the Superprestige series is held in Diegem on December 28.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:59:33|
|2||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Shimano Development Team||0:00:15|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:29|
|4||Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team||0:00:44|
|5||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:00:48|
|6||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:00:58|
|7||Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:05|
|8||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team||0:01:21|
|9||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace||0:01:52|
|10||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:54|
|11||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:08|
|12||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:15|
|13||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:19|
|14||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:02:40|
|15||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team||0:02:44|
|16||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Project Cross Racing||0:02:46|
|17||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:49|
|18||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:06|
|19||Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Remerx-Merida Team Kolin||0:03:13|
|20||Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:03:19|
|21||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:28|
|22||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team||0:03:32|
|23||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)||0:03:56|
|24||Patrick Gaudy (Bel) Veranclassic-Doltcini Cycling Team||0:04:14|
|25||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW||0:05:47|
|26||Michael Boros (Cze) CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor||0:06:11|
|27||Ole Quast (Ger)||0:06:17|
|28||Josep Betalu Constantino (Spa)||0:06:23|
|29||Clement Lhotellerie (Fra)||0:06:40|
|30||Stephen Hyde (USA)|
|31||Aaron Schooler (Can)|
|32||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|33||Cameron Jette (Can)|