Pauwels wins the sprint in Pont-Château

Albert takes second, Nys third

Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) beat Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in an exciting two-man duel that ended in a battle for the last corner and a sprint, at the seventh round of the UCI's cyclo-cross World Cup in Pont-Château, France. Back in 2004 Pauwels won the U23 cyclo-cross world championships on the same course.

“It's a course that suits me. Around New Year the courses were tough but I'm performing better on the so-called lighter courses,” Pauwels said after capturing his biggest win of the season. It's Pauwels' second World Cup victory of his career, after winning in Zolder last year.

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) did not have a great day but he did manage to win the sprint ahead of a large chase group, to take third, almost a minute behind the two leaders. World Cup leader Albert remains in the overall lead with a comfortable gap over Pauwels. World champion Zdenek Stybar wasn't present in Pont-Château.

On the fast and non-technical course a large group of riders remained together during the first two laps. Then World Cup leader Albert moved forward and he clocked a blistering fast third lap. Right behind him Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) blew up tying to chase him and even a rider like Nys was clearly in trouble, allowing Albert to open a sizeable gap.

At that moment Pauwels was deliberating on what to do while riding in fifth place. “I started well today but when Niels attacked during the third lap I sat too far in the group. I figured I still had the possibility to close the gap and it narrowly worked out well,” Pauwels said.

The eventual winner was followed by Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Steve Chainel (FDJ). The five leaders hit the fourth lap and a second surge by Albert took its toll on Walsleben, Vantornout and Chainel. While the leading duo steamed away in front there was a cease-fire behind, at the end of the fourth lap. The two Belgians in front quickly opened a lead of 45 seconds which allowed them to complete the final five laps while keeping control of the chase group.

“We focused on staying in front,” Pauwels said.

During the final lap, 12 chasers were battling for third place. Italian champion Marco Aurelio Fontana led this group in the first section but then lost focus and hit a pole. The crash from Fontana took down plus Walsleben, Vantornout and Francis Mourey (FDJ) too. Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant Offroad), Chainel, Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea), Nys, John Gadret (Bouygues Telecom), Enrico Franzoi (BKCP-Powerplus) and then Timothy Johnson (Cannondale) managed to manoeuvre around the pile-up.

Up front the leading duo hit the long sloping uphill stretch and Pauwels tried a first attempt to shake off Albert. It didn't work out and Pauwels claimed he had struggled with his pedal. “I clicked out of my pedal several times today. I don't think it would be possible to avoid the sprint though,” Pauwels said.

On the next uphill stretch that led to a left-hand corner and the finish line the duo rode shoulder to shoulder with Pauwels on the left and Albert on the right.

“The sprint was contested before the final corner. He wanted to hit it too fast and that's why he lost time, making it easy for me,” Pauwels said. Pauwels lost his pedal once again but Albert lost time by going on the outside of the corner and quickly accepted defeat.

“That I lost is my own fault. I had a gap of a metre when hitting the corner. I could've hit him into the fence but wisely choose not to do that. In the end I did a good job as it's now virtually impossible to lose overall victory. Even if Pauwels wins the last World Cup round I have enough points with a result in the top-15,” Albert told Sporza.

Almost a minute later it was Nys who won the same battle for the lead position going into the left-hand corner, ahead of Chainel and Aernouts. Nys stood tall and a disappointed Chainel had to settle for fourth place on home soil.

“Third place was the best possible result because all race long I had to cling on to other riders. I was lucky when they crashed in front of me but it's my own merit that I'm on the podium,” Nys told Sporza.

Halfway into the race Timothy Johnson profited from a cease-fire in the chase group to join the battle for third place. Despite avoiding the last lap crash that included Fontana and co., Johnson finished outside the top-10, rolling across the line in 12th place.

“Well that wasn't so bad... a couple of crashes in the beginning, getting dizzy so many laps,” Johnson Twittered right after the race. British rider Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) was 15th and Jeremy Powers 19th. The latter took the honours of grabbing the hole shot and leading the peloton during the first stretches of the French course.

In the World Cup standings Albert has a huge gap of 61 points over Pauwels. Nys is third at 71 points behind Albert. Both riders are the only ones left with a theoretical chance of stealing the overall win from Albert as there are 80 points at stake for a victory in the last round of the World Cup next week in Hoogherheide, in the Netherlands.
 

Full Results
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team1:01:46 
2Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:00:03 
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:00:40 
4Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ0:00:41 
5Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team0:00:42 
6Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:00:47 
7Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus0:00:50 
8John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale0:00:52 
9Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Auber 930:00:53 
10Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus0:00:55 
11Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:00:57 
12Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com0:00:58 
13Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor0:01:12 
14Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ0:01:17 
15Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles0:01:22 
16Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team0:01:23 
17Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Van Vliet EBH Elshof0:01:29 
18Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa)0:01:32 
19Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com0:01:40 
20Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team0:01:43 
21Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing0:01:44 
22Vladimír Kyzivát (Cze) Johnson Controls Aš Mb0:01:45 
23Florian Le Corré (Fra) Flers Cyclisme 610:01:46 
24Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:01:51 
25Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)0:02:00 
26Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team0:02:07 
27Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)0:02:13 
28James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com0:02:14 
29Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team0:02:31 
30Ludovic Renard (Fra) Oceane Cycle Poitevin0:02:32 
31Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team0:03:13 
32Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS0:03:29 
33Marco Bianco (Ita)0:03:37 
34Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Sunweb - Revor0:03:38 
35Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor0:03:44 
36Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team0:03:51 
37Derrick St John (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy0:03:53 
38Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned)0:03:54 
39Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing0:04:06 
40Julien Pion (Fra)0:04:36 
41Magnus Darvell (Swe)0:05:00 
42Craig Richey (Can) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue -2laps 
43Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team  
44Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv  
45Shaun Adamson (Can) Cycle-Smart -6laps 
World Cup standings after round 7
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus490pts
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team429 
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet419 
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team348 
5Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ327 
6Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor302 
7Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team301 
8Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team294 
9Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus282 
10Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus266 
11Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus254 
12Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team235 
13Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team230 
14Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team229 
15Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS227 
16Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing224 
17Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Auber 93221 
18Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team215 
19Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ206 
20Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team202 
21Marco Bianco (Ita)175 
22Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team164 
23Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Sunweb - Revor156 
24Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa)152 
25Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team146 
26Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Van Vliet EBH Elshof140 
27Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team137 
28Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned)134 
29Radomir Simunek Jr. (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus129 
30John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale123 
31Jonathan Page (USA)122 
32Vladimír Kyzivát (Cze) Johnson Controls Aš Mb114 
33Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles113 
34Mitchell Huenders (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus104 
35Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team102 
36Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor93 
37David Kášek (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor88 
38Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor82 
39Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com82 
40Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team81 
41Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank80 
42Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)76 
43Romain Villa (Fra)69 
44Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)65 
45Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com63 
46Fabio Ursi (Ita) Buergi59 
47Sacha Weber (Ger) Stevens Racing Team59 
48James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com50 
49Florian Le Corré (Fra) Flers Cyclisme 6147 
50Joachim Parbo (Den) Kch Leopard Cycles47 
51Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Bisontine46 
52Jirí Polnický (Cze) Sunweb - Revor41 
53Guillaume Perrot (Fra)39 
54Pirmin Lang (Swi) Buergi37 
55Wilant van Gils (Ned) CX Nederland36 
56Marek Cichosz (Pol) Legia-Felt35 
57Jérome Chevallier (Fra) AC Bisontine30 
58Simon Zahner (Swi)29 
59Marco Ponta (Ita)27 
60Tijmen Eising (Ned) Sunweb-Revor26 
61Milan Barenyi (Svk)23 
62Karel Hník (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team22 
63Ludovic Renard (Fra) Oceane Cycle Poitevin21 
64David Lozano Riba (Spa)21 
65Tommy Nielsen (Den)21 
66Daniel Ruiz Echeandia (Spa)20 
67Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona19 
68Kenneth Hansen (Den)19 
69Geert van der Horst (Ned)18 
70Mauro Gonzalez Fontan (Spa)17 
71Mik Garrigan (Can)17 
72Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)16 
73Sean Babcock (USA) Kona15 
74David Juarez Alday (Spa)15 
75Craig Richey (Can) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue15 
76Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv15 
77Derrick St John (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy14 
78Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn)14 
79Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole13 
80Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing12 
81René Lang (Swi)12 
82Julien Pion (Fra)11 
83Václav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Controls Aš Mb11 
84Magnus Darvell (Swe)10 
85Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)9 
86Michael Schweizer (Ger) Stevens Racing Team7 
87Shaun Adamson (Can) Cycle-Smart6 
88Martin Haring (Svk) CK Banská Bystrica6 
89Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)6 
90Antonio Suarez Fernandez (Spa)5 
91Mark Lalonde (USA) Cal Giant-Specialized3 
92David van der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus3 
93Robert Glajza (Svk) BKP2 
94Paul Voss (Ger)1 
95Gusty Bausch (Lux)1 
96Xabier Garcia Irazola (Spa)1 

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