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Having been dropped on the final lap, Pauwels rejoined Nys on the finishing straight and managed to outsprint the Belgian champion to win the Superprestige race in Zonhoven

Photo: John de Jong






02.11.2014 @ 16:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels again showed amazing form when he won today’s Superprestige race  in Zonhoven after an impressive comeback. Having been dropped by Sven Nys on the final lap, the Sunweb rider managed to regain contact as they hit the finishing straight and used his well-known sprinting skills to beat his rival into second.


Yesterday Kevin Pauwels was close to a big victory when he launched an early attack in the Koppenbergcross and seemed to be riding away with the win before he drifted back to third in the finale. Today he got his revenge when he won the Superprestige race in the sand of Zonhoven after an impressive comeback.


Most of the race, defending champion Sven Nys had been riding on the front, gradually reducing the size of the front group and at one point, he only had Tom Meeusen left for company. At this point, Pauwels found himself far back but he steadily reeled in the leaders, making the junction with Lars van der Haar in the second half of the race.


Meeusen paid the price for the fast start and after van der Haar had yo-yoed off the back of the group for a long time, it was a front trio that started the final lap. While Pauwels was allowed to set the pace and van der Haar was suffering, everybody was just waiting for Nys to launch his attack.


At the midpoint of the lap, the Belgian champion made his acceleration and when Pauwels immediately lost contact, it seemed that the race had been decided. However, Nys started to lose momentum and Pauwels gradually got closer.


Despite Nys sprinting as hard as he could, Pauwels made the junction just as they hit the short finishing straight. With both riders being on their limit, it ended with a messy sprint, with an exhausted Pauwels just managing to pass his rival to take the win. Van der Haar rolled across the line to take third a few seconds later.


Nys may have been left disappointed but as overall leader Mathieu van der Poel could only manage 5th, he moved into the lead in the Superprestige series. However, he shares the position with van der Haar before racing resumes next Sunday in Ruddervoorde.


How it unfolded:

For the second day in a row, Tom Meeusen won the opening sprint and the Telenet-Fidea rider strung out the peloton as they tackled the fast opening part of the course. Lars van der Haar and Klaas Vantornout were riding just behind him while Sven Nys had got an unusually good start, finding himself in fourth position.


Meeusen set the pace for the first half of the first lap before he was passed by Vantornout. The Sunweb rider upped the pace and when he crossed the line after the first lap, only Meeusen, van der Haar, Kevin Pauwles, Nys, Rob Peeters and Corne Van Kessel had managed to keep up with him.


Mathieu van der Poel, Thijs van Amerongen, Niels Wubben and Philip Walsleben rejoined the front group in the early part of the second lap but Vantornout continued to apply the pressure, constantly stringing out the group. That was too much for Walsleben, Wubben and van Amerongen who constantly struggled at the back of the group. At the passage of the line, the latter two had been dropped while the rest of the peloton had exploded to pieces.


Vantornout set the pace for most of the third lap but as they hit a sand section, Nys sprinted past his compatriot and launched a fierce attack. Only Vantornout could match his speed while Meeusen while Meeusen led the chase a few metres further back, with Peeters and Pauwels both losing contact with the group.


Meeusen managed to bridge the gap on his own while van der Haar, Van Kessel, van der Poel and Walsleben formed their nearest chasers. At the passage of the line, they were 5 seconds behind the front trio.


Nys continued to set a fast pace on the fourth lap, and that put his rivals on the limit. Vantornout made a mistake on a sandy descent, hitting the deck hard, and as Meeusen was already suffering, Nys was suddenly the lone leader of the race. Vantornout got back on his bike but was now behind the first chase group.


Meeusen managd to rejoin Nys but the Belgian was constantly on his limit. Meanwhile, Van Kessel had been dropped from the chase group while Vantornout was no longer in the top 10.


As van der Poel led the chase, Walsleben was the next to get dropped while van der Haar stayed glued to the wheel of his compatriot. However, the pair was constantly losing ground and as they crossed the line at the end of the fourth lap, they were 8 seconds behind, with Walsleben aving rejoined them. The next group was made up of Wubben, Van Kessel and Pauwels while Peeters, Vantornout and Aernouts had joined forces a little further back.


Van der Haar still had something in the tank and in the first part of the fifth lap, he tried to bridge the gap on his own. At the next passage of the line, he had reduced his deficit to 4 seconds while van der Poel was at 12 seconds, with Pauwels and Walsleben following a little further behind.


Nys didn’t look back and just rode his own race while Meeusen did his best to stay on his wheel. Meanwhile, van der Haar still got closer and just before the next passage of the line, the Dutch champion had made the junction.


This prompted Nys to finally slow down and while Meeusen took over the pace-setting, Pauwels also joined the front group. As they started the next lap, van der Haar hit the front and he put his three companions under pressure.


Halfway through the lap, Nys again hit  the front and when van der Haar made a mistake in a sandy position while riding in second position, the Belgian champion got clear. However, his three chasers managed to rejoin the defending champion just before the next passage of the line. At this point, van der Poel was the nearest chaser, following at 18 seconds.


Nys continued to apply the pressure and now Meeusen was starting to fade. The Belgian was the first to get dropped and moments later, van der Haar paid the price for his hard chasing, briefly losing contact with the leaders before he managed to rejoin them.


As they approached the end of the lap, van der Haar had to surrender for good but Pauwels stayed glued to Nys’ back wheel. Just before the passage of the line, Nys asked Pauwels to pull through and the slowed pace allowed van der Haar to rejoin them.


At the start of the penultimate lap, the front trio was 10 seconds ahead of Meeusen and it was still Pauwels setting the pace. As they hit the steep sandy climb, van der Haar again lost contact but as Pauwels was just setting a steady pace, he continued his yo-yoing off the back of the group.


Just before the penultimate passage of the line, Nys again hit the front and he led the front trio onto the final lap. In the early part, he gradually increased the pace and unsurprisingly, van der Haar quickly had to surrender.


Hitting the steep, sandy climb, Nys allowed Pauwels to pass him and impressively, van der Haar showed great running skills to rejoin them. Waiting for a sprint, Pauwels set a stedy pace while Nys saved energy for his final attack.


Just before another strip of sand, he made his move and this time he got rid of his companions. While van der Haar drifted backwards, however, Pauwels fought hard to regain contact and was dangling just a few metres behind the Belgian champion.


Impressively, Pauwels regained contact just as they reached the finishing straight and he still had enough left in the tank to outsprint Nys. Van der Haar rolled across the line in third while Meeusen and van der Poel completed the top 5.



1. Kevin Pauwels

2. Sven Nys

3. Lars van der Haar

4. Tom Meeusen

5. Mathieu van der Poel

6. Klaas Vantornout

7. Bart Aernouts

8. Niels Wubben

9. Corne van Kessel

10. Philip Walsleben


Overall standings:

1. Sven Nys 27

2. Lars van der Haar 27

3. Mathieu van der Poel 26

4. Kevin Pauwels 25

5. Klaas Vantornout 21

6. Tom Meeusen 18

7. Corne van Kessel 16



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