Pauwels wins the sprint in Pont-Château

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.

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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 TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude RvRow 43 - Cell 2
45Shaun Adamson (Can) Cycle-Smart-6laps
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World Cup standings after round 7
1Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus490pts
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team429Row 1 - Cell 3
3Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet419Row 2 - Cell 3
4Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team348Row 3 - Cell 3
5Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ327Row 4 - Cell 3
6Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor302Row 5 - Cell 3
7Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team301Row 6 - Cell 3
8Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team294Row 7 - Cell 3
9Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus282Row 8 - Cell 3
10Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus266Row 9 - Cell 3
11Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus254Row 10 - Cell 3
12Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team235Row 11 - Cell 3
13Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team230Row 12 - Cell 3
14Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team229Row 13 - Cell 3
15Christian Heule (Swi) Champion System LBS227Row 14 - Cell 3
16Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB-Racing224Row 15 - Cell 3
17Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Auber 93221Row 16 - Cell 3
18Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team215Row 17 - Cell 3
19Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ206Row 18 - Cell 3
20Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team202Row 19 - Cell 3
21Marco Bianco (Ita)175Row 20 - Cell 3
22Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team164Row 21 - Cell 3
23Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Sunweb - Revor156Row 22 - Cell 3
24Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa)152Row 23 - Cell 3
25Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team146Row 24 - Cell 3
26Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Van Vliet EBH Elshof140Row 25 - Cell 3
27Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team137Row 26 - Cell 3
28Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned)134Row 27 - Cell 3
29Radomir Simunek Jr. (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus129Row 28 - Cell 3
30John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale123Row 29 - Cell 3
31Jonathan Page (USA)122Row 30 - Cell 3
32Vladimír Kyzivát (Cze) Johnson Controls Aš Mb114Row 31 - Cell 3
33Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles113Row 32 - Cell 3
34Mitchell Huenders (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus104Row 33 - Cell 3
35Johannes Sickmüller (Ger) Stevens Racing Team102Row 34 - Cell 3
36Ondrej Bambula (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor93Row 35 - Cell 3
37David Kášek (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor88Row 36 - Cell 3
38Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor82Row 37 - Cell 3
39Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com82Row 38 - Cell 3
40Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team81Row 39 - Cell 3
41Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank80Row 40 - Cell 3
42Isaac Suarez Fernandez (Spa)76Row 41 - Cell 3
43Romain Villa (Fra)69Row 42 - Cell 3
44Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa)65Row 43 - Cell 3
45Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com63Row 44 - Cell 3
46Fabio Ursi (Ita) Buergi59Row 45 - Cell 3
47Sacha Weber (Ger) Stevens Racing Team59Row 46 - Cell 3
48James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com50Row 47 - Cell 3
49Florian Le Corré (Fra) Flers Cyclisme 6147Row 48 - Cell 3
50Joachim Parbo (Den) Kch Leopard Cycles47Row 49 - Cell 3
51Laurent Colombatto (Fra) AC Bisontine46Row 50 - Cell 3
52Jirí Polnický (Cze) Sunweb - Revor41Row 51 - Cell 3
53Guillaume Perrot (Fra)39Row 52 - Cell 3
54Pirmin Lang (Swi) Buergi37Row 53 - Cell 3
55Wilant van Gils (Ned) CX Nederland36Row 54 - Cell 3
56Marek Cichosz (Pol) Legia-Felt35Row 55 - Cell 3
57Jérome Chevallier (Fra) AC Bisontine30Row 56 - Cell 3
58Simon Zahner (Swi)29Row 57 - Cell 3
59Marco Ponta (Ita)27Row 58 - Cell 3
60Tijmen Eising (Ned) Sunweb-Revor26Row 59 - Cell 3
61Milan Barenyi (Svk)23Row 60 - Cell 3
62Karel Hník (Cze) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team22Row 61 - Cell 3
63Ludovic Renard (Fra) Oceane Cycle Poitevin21Row 62 - Cell 3
64David Lozano Riba (Spa)21Row 63 - Cell 3
65Tommy Nielsen (Den)21Row 64 - Cell 3
66Daniel Ruiz Echeandia (Spa)20Row 65 - Cell 3
67Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona19Row 66 - Cell 3
68Kenneth Hansen (Den)19Row 67 - Cell 3
69Geert van der Horst (Ned)18Row 68 - Cell 3
70Mauro Gonzalez Fontan (Spa)17Row 69 - Cell 3
71Mik Garrigan (Can)17Row 70 - Cell 3
72Erlantz Uriarte Okamika (Spa)16Row 71 - Cell 3
73Sean Babcock (USA) Kona15Row 72 - Cell 3
74David Juarez Alday (Spa)15Row 73 - Cell 3
75Craig Richey (Can) Cyclocrossracing.Com p/b Blue15Row 74 - Cell 3
76Rene Birkenfeld (Ger) Harvesterhude Rv15Row 75 - Cell 3
77Derrick St John (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy14Row 76 - Cell 3
78Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn)14Row 77 - Cell 3
79Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole13Row 78 - Cell 3
80Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing12Row 79 - Cell 3
81René Lang (Swi)12Row 80 - Cell 3
82Julien Pion (Fra)11Row 81 - Cell 3
83Václav Metlicka (Svk) Johnson Controls Aš Mb11Row 82 - Cell 3
84Magnus Darvell (Swe)10Row 83 - Cell 3
85Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)9Row 84 - Cell 3
86Michael Schweizer (Ger) Stevens Racing Team7Row 85 - Cell 3
87Shaun Adamson (Can) Cycle-Smart6Row 86 - Cell 3
88Martin Haring (Svk) CK Banská Bystrica6Row 87 - Cell 3
89Mirko Tabacchi (Ita)6Row 88 - Cell 3
90Antonio Suarez Fernandez (Spa)5Row 89 - Cell 3
91Mark Lalonde (USA) Cal Giant-Specialized3Row 90 - Cell 3
92David van der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus3Row 91 - Cell 3
93Robert Glajza (Svk) BKP2Row 92 - Cell 3
94Paul Voss (Ger)1Row 93 - Cell 3
95Gusty Bausch (Lux)1Row 94 - Cell 3
96Xabier Garcia Irazola (Spa)1Row 95 - Cell 3

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