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Pauwels powers to first Koppenbergcross win

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) continues to show off his great early season form by ending the Koppenbergcross reign of Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), who has won the race seven years in a row. World champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Cycling Team) finished third in Melden, near Oudenaarde, Belgium.

Rain drops started to come down halfway through the race a flat tyre by Nys and a run-in with a building by Stybar gave Pauwels the gap he needed, and he exploited it to the maximum. Pauwels now becomes first leader of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, and will defend that honour in the second round in Ronse.

"Keeping Sven [Nys] from his eighth win in a row is something special," Pauwels said after receiving his cobblestone trophy. "It's really nice to win here and the cobble looks great; I'm not giving this one away!"

On the first lap, the top names took a back seat as Tom Van Den Bosch (AA Drink/ and Belgian amateur champion Stijn Huys (Orange Babies) led the peloton on the first trip up the steep, slippery, cobbled ascent of the Koppenberg. However, with bonus points toward the GvA Trophy on offer at the top on the second lap, the stars surged to the fore. Pauwels powered up the Koppenberg in first place and captured the tree GvA-Trophy bonus points, while Nys stormed out of the blue to second place and two points ahead of Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) who grabbed the remaining point away from teammate Joeri Adams (Telenet-Fidea).

Half a lap later Nys unleashed his devils a second time and only four men were able to keep up: Pauwels, Meeusen, Stybar and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor). The first chasers trailed by 15 seconds, but thanks to the work of Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) the gap dropped back.

Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) closed the remaining seconds with Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant-Offroad Team), creating a seven-man leader's group halfway into the race. Seven was too many for Nys, who once again dropped a bomb and this time the group blew apart for good. Pauwels and Stybar barely hung on with Nys who didn't allow a comeback from Meeusen while the rest was gasping for air at 14 seconds.

As rain began to fall during lap six, Stybar indicated to his pit crew he wanted a new bike. "Before the race I studied the weather forecast and I knew that 20 minutes before the end of the race it would rain. I wanted to get Rhino's to have more grip," Stybar said.

During the seventh lap both Nys and Stybar switched bikes on the top of the Koppenberg and it turned out to be the key moment of the race. Nys's rear tire immediately flatted while Stybar was sliding all over the place. Pauwels didn't know what happened and created a gap on his rivals. "I thought Nys punctured before the top and switched bikes because of that. I didn't know where Stybar had gone," Pauwels said.

Nys switched bikes again at the bottom of the climb and meanwhile Stybar passed him. At the end of the lap, Pauwels had 10 seconds on Stybar and 16 on Nys. Soon after that Stybar overshot a corner on the slippery asphalt and touched a house with his shoulder. "It was very slippery to ride on the asphalt with those Rhino profiles. I wasn't hurt," Stybar said. The world champion did lose speed and Nys quickly blasted passed the Czech.

On the top Pauwels still had 16 seconds on the chasing duo and at the finish line he added one more second to that bonus, while Stybar lost more ground.

"I gave all I had but remained at the same distance. From that moment on I focused on avoiding the risks to save my classification," Nys said.

Pauwels gained even more time on Nys in the final part of the race and at the finish the gap was 31 seconds on Nys and 1:11 on Stybar.

"I suffered a lot during the last two laps and I was glad the race was over," Pauwels said.

Aernouts finished fourth right after Stybar with a good gap over Meeusen and Vantornout. Belgian champ Albert finished seventh in no-man's-land while Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) bested Vincent Baestaens (Landbouwkrediet-KDL) in the sprint for place eight. Adams was tenth ahead of Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea).


Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor1:00:38
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:00:31
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet - Fidea0:01:11
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.0:01:13
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:24
6Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor0:01:25
7Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:02:06
8Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus0:02:41
9Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
10Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:02:54
11Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:03:02
12Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus0:03:03
13Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Pro0:03:04
14Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea0:03:14
15Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team
16Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.0:03:34
17Tom van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team0:03:43
18Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team0:03:47
19Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:03:50
20Marco Bianco (Ita) L'Arcobaleno Carraro Team0:03:54
21Patrick Gaudy (Bel) The Barracuda Company0:04:03
22Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink/ Pro0:04:21
23Jirí Polnický (Cze) Sunweb - Revor Team0:04:46
24Robert Gavenda (Svk) KDL Trans-Landbouwkrediet0:05:08
25Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team0:05:09
26Kevin Cant (Bel)0:05:23
27Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:05:29
28Gianni Denolf (Bel) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team0:06:02
29Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:06:43
30 (-1 lap)Thomas Vernaeckt (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
31 (-2 laps)Kobus Hereijgers (Ned)
32Martin Zlámalík (Cze) KDL Trans-Landbouwkrediet
33Toon Devenyns (Bel)
34Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
35 (-4 laps)Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) DCM-GB vorselaar
36Robert Watson (GBr) Paul Milnes RT/Bradford Olympic
37Grzegorz Grabarek (Pol)
38James Thompson (GBr)
39Alexandre Wypelier (Fra)
40 (-6 laps)Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike/Blue
41Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles
42Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb Revor

Intermediate sprint
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor3pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2
3Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team1

Fastest lap
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:05:47
2Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:05:48
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor0:05:49

GVA Trophy standings after one race
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor28pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet24
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet - Fidea19
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.17
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team17
6Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor15
7Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus14
8Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus13
9Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet12
10Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team11
11Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team10
12Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus9
13Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Pro8
14Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea7
15Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team6
16Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.5
17Tom van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team4
18Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team3
19Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team2
20Marco Bianco (Ita) L'Arcobaleno Carraro Team1


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