Pauwels increases World Cup lead in Namur

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) increased his lead in the elite men's overall World Cup standings after his solo win in the fourth round held in Namur, Belgium on Sunday. The Belgian rider is confident that he can win the overall series title, and noted that the final two races in Heusden-Zolder and Hoogerheide were made for him.

"With two races to go, it's looking really good," Pauwels said in Namur. "Those two races are really made for me and I have to lose as little points as possible."

Pauwels won back-to-back World Cup rounds in Milton Keynes on November 29, where he took the series lead, and in Namur. He also placed second in round one in Valkenburg on October 19 and in round two in Koksijde on November 22.

He currently has a total of 300 points, 77 points ahead of runner-up Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) and 82 points ahead of his teammate Corné Van Kessel in third.

In Namur, he opened a gap on rival Lars van der Haar (Giant-Shimano) and powered flawlessly through the thick mud on an off-camber section to take his second World Cup win of the season. Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) was third on the day and is now sitting in fourth place in the overall standings, 86 points behind Pauwels.

Cant hangs onto women's World Cup lead by one point, Van Aert takes over U23 series lead

Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) placed a disappointing sixth place in Namur but she continues to lead the elite women’s World Cup standings with a total of 178 points, just one point ahead of US and Pan-American champion Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing) and 32 points ahead of Ellen Van Loy (VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team).

Compton won the first World Cup in Valkenburg but Cant took over the series lead after her wins in Koksijde and Milton Keynes. In Namur, world-class mountain biker Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) won the women's race. Although it was her first cyclo-cross World Cup this year, she has won multiple UCI races in the US. The Czech rider won the race by 34 seconds ahead of world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv Woman Cycling) in what was her first cyclo-cross race of the season. Compton placed third on the day, over a minute back.

In the under-23 race, Belgium's Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team) took a solo win ahead of Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) and Belgium's Laurens Sweeck (Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team).

Van Aert's win bumped him up into the lead of the under-23 World Cup standings with 110 points. He is leading by 10 points ahead of Michael Vanthourenhout (Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team), who won the opening World Cup in Valkenburg, and 30 points ahead of van der Poel in third.

The final two World Cup rounds are held in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on December 26 and Hoogerheide, Netherlands on January 25.

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