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Pauwels pounces in Igorre

By:
Brecht Decaluwé

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) Team Result
1 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 1:02:31  
2 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:00:45  
3 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 0:00:59  
4 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team 0:01:06  
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:26  
6 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 0:01:31  
7 Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus 0:01:33  
8 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 0:01:34  
9 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 0:01:35  
10 Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ    
11 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:01:36  
12 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:01:40  
13 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl 0:01:43  
14 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 0:01:47  
15 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team    
16 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland 0:01:59  
17 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco 0:02:01  
18 Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea 0:02:37  
19 Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi 0:03:05  
20 Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl 0:03:09  
21 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 93 0:03:15  
22 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) 0:03:18  
23 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen 0:03:36  
24 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel 0:04:07  
25 Magnus Darvell (Swe) 0:04:23  
26 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 0:04:44  
27 Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 0:04:57  
28 Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa) 0:05:11  
29 Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:05:17  
30 Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa) 0:05:49  
31 Kenneth Hansen (Den) Haderslev Starup    
32 Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh    
33 Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)    
34 Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa)    
35 Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC    
36 Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam    
37 Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires    

World Cup standings after 4 races

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 300  pts
2 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 285  
3 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team 250  
4 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team 221  
5 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 220  
6 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 218  
7 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 210  
8 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 166  
9 Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ 160  
10 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 154  
11 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team 142  
12 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl 140  
13 Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus 134  
14 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 93 129  
15 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 119  
16 Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole 113  
17 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco 111  
18 Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi 102  
19 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel 99  
20 Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea 98  
21 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland 98  
22 Jeremy Powers (USA) Team Rapha-Focus 97  
23 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing 96  
24 Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl 96  
25 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam de Rijke 95  
26 Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team 93  
27 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 85  
28 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 83  
29 Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles 69  
30 Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld 65  
31 Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team 63  
32 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen 63  
33 Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld 53  
34 Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet - KDL 53  
35 Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze) 51  
36 Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam 46  
37 Magnus Darvell (Swe) 46  
38 David Kasek (Cze) 44  
39 Petr Dlask (Cze) 39  
40 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles 38  
41 Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team 33  
42 Sascha Weber (Ger) 33  
43 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) 29  
44 Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb-Revor 28  
45 Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) 27  
46 Jérome Chevallier (Fra) 26  
47 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 25  
48 Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube 25  
49 Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa) 25  
50 Robert Gavenda (Svk) Landbouwkrediet - KDL 25  
51 Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 24  
52 Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa) 23  
53 James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld 22  
54 Kenneth Hansen (Den) Haderslev Starup 21  
55 Karel Hnik (Cze) Telenet-Fidea 20  
56 Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh 19  
57 Marco Ponta (Ita) Esercito 19  
58 Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl 19  
59 Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa) 18  
60 Fabio Ursi (Ita) C.S.Esercito 18  
61 Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa) 17  
62 Guillaume Perrot (Fra) 17  
63 Ondrej Bambula (Cze) 17  
64 Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC 16  
65 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 16  
66 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) 15  
67 Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires 14  
68 Milan Barenyi (Svk) 14  
69 Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 12  
70 René Lang (Swi) VMC Liestal 12  
71 Melvin Rulliere (Fra) 11  
72 Nico Brüngger (Swi) EKZ Racing Team 11  
73 Martin Haring (Svk) 10  
74 Mirko Tabacchi (Ita) 10  
75 Marek Cichosz (Pol) 6  
76 Ole Quast (Ger) Stevens Racing Team 5  
77 Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Control 3