Pauwels pounces in Igorre

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

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#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) FDJRow 9 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
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 StarupRow 30 - Cell 2
32Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - RaleighRow 31 - Cell 2
33Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)Row 32 - Cell 2
34Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa)Row 33 - Cell 2
35Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCCRow 34 - Cell 2
36Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen WielerteamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge TiresRow 36 - Cell 2

World Cup standings after 4 races

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor300pts
2Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet285Row 1 - Cell 3
3Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team250Row 2 - Cell 3
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team221Row 3 - Cell 3
5Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea220Row 4 - Cell 3
6Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ218Row 5 - Cell 3
7Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor210Row 6 - Cell 3
8Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea166Row 7 - Cell 3
9Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ160Row 8 - Cell 3
10Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti154Row 9 - Cell 3
11Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team142Row 10 - Cell 3
12Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl140Row 11 - Cell 3
13Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus134Row 12 - Cell 3
14Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 93129Row 13 - Cell 3
15Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus119Row 14 - Cell 3
16Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole113Row 15 - Cell 3
17Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco111Row 16 - Cell 3
18Cristian Cominelli (Ita) TX Active Bianchi102Row 17 - Cell 3
19Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel99Row 18 - Cell 3
20Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea98Row 19 - Cell 3
21Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland98Row 20 - Cell 3
22Jeremy Powers (USA) Team Rapha-Focus97Row 21 - Cell 3
23Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing96Row 22 - Cell 3
24Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl96Row 23 - Cell 3
25Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam de Rijke95Row 24 - Cell 3
26Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team93Row 25 - Cell 3
27Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus85Row 26 - Cell 3
28Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet83Row 27 - Cell 3
29Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles69Row 28 - Cell 3
30Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld65Row 29 - Cell 3
31Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team63Row 30 - Cell 3
32Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen63Row 31 - Cell 3
33Christian Heule (Swi) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld53Row 32 - Cell 3
34Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet - KDL53Row 33 - Cell 3
35Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)51Row 34 - Cell 3
36Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam46Row 35 - Cell 3
37Magnus Darvell (Swe)46Row 36 - Cell 3
38David Kasek (Cze)44Row 37 - Cell 3
39Petr Dlask (Cze)39Row 38 - Cell 3
40Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles38Row 39 - Cell 3
41Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team33Row 40 - Cell 3
42Sascha Weber (Ger)33Row 41 - Cell 3
43José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa)29Row 42 - Cell 3
44Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb-Revor28Row 43 - Cell 3
45Johannes Sickmüller (Ger)27Row 44 - Cell 3
46Jérome Chevallier (Fra)26Row 45 - Cell 3
47Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)25Row 46 - Cell 3
48Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube25Row 47 - Cell 3
49Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)25Row 48 - Cell 3
50Robert Gavenda (Svk) Landbouwkrediet - KDL25Row 49 - Cell 3
51Elia Silvestri (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti24Row 50 - Cell 3
52Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)23Row 51 - Cell 3
53James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld22Row 52 - Cell 3
54Kenneth Hansen (Den) Haderslev Starup21Row 53 - Cell 3
55Karel Hnik (Cze) Telenet-Fidea20Row 54 - Cell 3
56Craig Richey (Can) Renner Custom - Raleigh19Row 55 - Cell 3
57Marco Ponta (Ita) Esercito19Row 56 - Cell 3
58Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl19Row 57 - Cell 3
59Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)18Row 58 - Cell 3
60Fabio Ursi (Ita) C.S.Esercito18Row 59 - Cell 3
61Jose Antonio Diez Arriola (Spa)17Row 60 - Cell 3
62Guillaume Perrot (Fra)17Row 61 - Cell 3
63Ondrej Bambula (Cze)17Row 62 - Cell 3
64Jeremy Durrin (USA) J.A.M. Fund - NCC16Row 63 - Cell 3
65Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet16Row 64 - Cell 3
66Julien Taramarcaz (Swi)15Row 65 - Cell 3
67Joachim Parbo (Den) Challenge Tires14Row 66 - Cell 3
68Milan Barenyi (Svk)14Row 67 - Cell 3
69Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea12Row 68 - Cell 3
70René Lang (Swi) VMC Liestal12Row 69 - Cell 3
71Melvin Rulliere (Fra)11Row 70 - Cell 3
72Nico Brüngger (Swi) EKZ Racing Team11Row 71 - Cell 3
73Martin Haring (Svk)10Row 72 - Cell 3
74Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)10Row 73 - Cell 3
75Marek Cichosz (Pol)6Row 74 - Cell 3
76Ole Quast (Ger) Stevens Racing Team5Row 75 - Cell 3
77Vaclav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Control3Row 76 - Cell 3

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