Pauwels pounces in Igorre

Nys second with Stybar a distant fifth

In-form Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) extended his lead during the fourth round of the World Cup with a convincing win in Igorre, Spain. As the race is held in the Basque Country winner Pauwels proudly showed off his first txapela, the typical Basque beret, on the podium.

In the third duel in three races, compatriot Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) lost for the first time, a ill-timed flat tire ruining his race. Nys easily stood tall for second place. Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) won the battle for third place from Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team). The latter crashed in the final corner. In the World Cup standings Pauwels now has a lead of 15 points over Nys.

“I’m pleased with this win. The course is harder than the one in Tabor so this is a nice win. Things are looking good for me now in the World Cup. I’ve got a good chance to win it,” Pauwels told Sporza.

In typical fashion Nys and Pauwels once again clashed with each other. After to a fast start from Belgian rider Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) there would be eleven laps to cover on the not so muddy course, including the somewhat shorter opening lap.

Despite some minor accelerations from Enrico Franzoi and Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) a long line of riders featured the front of the race. Men like Pauwels were riding out of the top 10 due to a bike switch. “I was riding on tires with a Rhino-profile. Most others rode on Gryffo’s and that was what was needed here,” Pauwels told Sporza.

After two laps the pace dropped back and Nys convincingly took over command. “I didn’t see Kevin in front so I made the selection up front before allowing him to come back,” Nys said.

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Francis Mourey (FDJ) tried to follow but they were soon dropped. While trailing Nys by 13 seconds Pauwels and world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Cycling) launched a counter-attack.

“I didn’t see Nys attack. I felt good but there was little room to move up,” Pauwels said. It took Pauwels no time to get back to Nys in the fourth lap while Stybar was gapped and never managed to close the final meters down. The duo of Nys and Pauwels remained together for two more laps while Stybar lost more and more ground on them.

Then, with the sun peeking through the clouds with five laps to go, Nys punctured. While sitting on Pauwels’ wheel he managed to hide his bad luck until the duo hit the pavement. Pauwels didn’t know what happened as he looked back and noticed Nys wasn’t on his wheel.

“I didn’t know he flatted. I need to see the TV-footage for that,” Pauwels said.

It turned out to be the key moment in the race. The pit zone wasn’t too far away but the resulting bike switch offered Pauwels a gap of about seven seconds. What followed was a great duel. Pauwels went full gas to hold off Nys. First Nys came back to four seconds but soon later he was back at seven seconds.

“I was able to ride faster for a brief moment but soon after that you have to pay the price. I couldn’t close the gap down. If you keeping pushing for too long then you might come to a complete standstill and then my second place was in danger,” Nys said.

“For a moment I thought about allowing him to return but luckily I pushed through,” Pauwels said. Halfway into the seventh lap it was game-over as the Belgian veteran cracked. Lap-after-lap Pauwels picked up a few seconds and in the end Nys bowed his head. “Pauwels is a well-deserved winner. It was to his merit that he could hold me off,” Nys said.

Pauwels powered up the start-finish line with a big smile. He cleaned the mud-spat jersey and threw both his hands in the air. Nys rolled across the finish line at 45 seconds from Pauwels. Thanks to his win and the 80 World Cup points Pauwels now has a 15 points margin over Nys. “That’s quite a big gap but it still can go either way,” Pauwels said.

In the background Stybar was caught and left behind by the duo of Meeusen and Aernouts. “I think he blew up his engine while trying to keep up with those two in front. They’re a level stronger than the rest,” Meeusen said. One minute behind Pauwels the two Belgians headed for a sprint with Meeusen leading it out.

In the final corner Aernouts made a mistake and he went down. No second World Cup podium in a row for Aernouts but the first one for Meeusen. “I’m super happy because during the second lap I rode half a lap on a flat tire. The first two were way stronger than us so I think it’s fair to say that I was the best of the rest,” Meeusen told Sporza.

Luckily for Aernouts he had time to get back on his bike and collect the World Cup points for his fourth place ahead of Stybar. Mourey won the sprint in the main chase group ahead of Simunek, Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), Franzoi, Steve Chainel (FDJ) and Vantornout. With his eleventh place the latter tumbles from fourth to seventh place in the World Cup.

Much further back Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde had the honor of being the first home rider in Igorre. Murgoitio was 18th at 2:37 from Pauwels. Nearly one minute later MTB star José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Multivan Merida Biking Team) finished 22nd.
The next World Cup round is held in Namur, the Walloon part of Belgium, and the course over there features the steep slopes of the citadel. “It’s a course that suits me. Just like the one after that in Zolder. Things are looking good for me. I’ve got a good chance to win.”

Full results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor1:02:31 
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:00:45 
3Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:00:59 
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team0:01:06 
5Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team0:01:26 
6Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ0:01:31 
7Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus0:01:33 
8Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:01:34 
9Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti0:01:35 
10Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ  
11Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:01:36 
12Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:01:40 
13Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl0:01:43 
14Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:01:47 
15Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team  
16Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland0:01:59 
17Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco0:02:01 
18Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea0:02:37 
19Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi0:03:05 
20Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl0:03:09 
21Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 930:03:15 
22José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa)0:03:18 
23Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen0:03:36 
24Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel0:04:07 
25Magnus Darvell (Swe)0:04:23 
26Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)0:04:44 
27Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti0:04:57 
28Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)0:05:11 
29Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole0:05:17 
30Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)0:05:49 
31Kenneth Hansen (Den) Haderslev Starup  
32Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh  
33Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)  
34Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa)  
35Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC  
36Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam  
37Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires  

World Cup standings after 4 races

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor300 pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet285 
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team250 
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team221 
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea220 
6Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ218 
7Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor210 
8Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea166 
9Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ160 
10Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti154 
11Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team142 
12Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl140 
13Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus134 
14Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 93129 
15Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus119 
16Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole113 
17Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco111 
18Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi102 
19Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel99 
20Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea98 
21Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland98 
22Jeremy Powers (USA) Team Rapha-Focus97 
23Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing96 
24Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl96 
25Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam de Rijke95 
26Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team93 
27Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus85 
28Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet83 
29Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles69 
30Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld65 
31Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team63 
32Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen63 
33Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld53 
34Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet - KDL53 
35Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)51 
36Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam46 
37Magnus Darvell (Swe)46 
38David Kasek (Cze)44 
39Petr Dlask (Cze)39 
40Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles38 
41Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team33 
42Sascha Weber (Ger)33 
43José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa)29 
44Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb-Revor28 
45Johannes Sickmüller (Ger)27 
46Jérome Chevallier (Fra)26 
47Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)25 
48Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube25 
49Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)25 
50Robert Gavenda (Svk) Landbouwkrediet - KDL25 
51Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti24 
52Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)23 
53James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld22 
54Kenneth Hansen (Den) Haderslev Starup21 
55Karel Hnik (Cze) Telenet-Fidea20 
56Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh19 
57Marco Ponta (Ita) Esercito19 
58Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl19 
59Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)18 
60Fabio Ursi (Ita) C.S.Esercito18 
61Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa)17 
62Guillaume Perrot (Fra)17 
63Ondrej Bambula (Cze)17 
64Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC16 
65Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet16 
66Julien Taramarcaz (Swi)15 
67Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires14 
68Milan Barenyi (Svk)14 
69Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea12 
70René Lang (Swi) VMC Liestal12 
71Melvin Rulliere (Fra)11 
72Nico Brüngger (Swi) EKZ Racing Team11 
73Martin Haring (Svk)10 
74Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)10 
75Marek Cichosz (Pol)6 
76Ole Quast (Ger) Stevens Racing Team5 
77Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Control3 
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