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Young Belgian beats Pauwels and Vantornout in three-rider sprint after tough race while Nys fails in his quest to take a 10th win in the traditional November opener

Photo: Feltet.dk

KEVIN PAUWELS

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KLAAS VANTORNOUT

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TOM MEEUSEN

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01.11.2013 @ 16:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sven Nys (Crelan) failed in his quest to win the Koppenbergcross for the 10th time when Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) took one of the biggest wins of his short career in the traditional November 1 race. The Belgian beat compatriots Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) in a three-rider sprint after having reeled in the latter on the final descent.

 

After his 2nd place in last Sunday's Superprestige race in Ruddervoorde, all was set for another dominant showing by world champion Sven Nys in "his" race, the Koppenbergcross which traditionally opens the month of November in the cyclo-cross world. However, the world champion was unable to defend his title and take an impressive 10th win in the race on the legendary Flemish climb when he was unable to keep up with the best on the final lap and had to settle for 5th.

 

Instead, the race was decided in a three-rider sprint between Tom Meeusen, Kevin Pauwels and Klaas Vantornout. The latter's aggressive racing on the final technical descent had briefly seen him get off the front but Meeusen made a strong effort to reel in the Belgian champion just before they hit the finishing straight.

 

Most eyes were on Pauwels to repeat his 2011 win in the race as the Belgian had saved energy on Meeusen's wheel and is a fast finisher. However, Meeusen showed impressive strength by launching an irresistible sprint just when he hit the finishing straight. While Vantornout admitted defeat immediately, Pauwels tried to respond to the fast Telenet rider but had to settle for 2nd.

 

Nys rolled across the line in 5th but the performance was enough for him to defend his lead in the overall Bpost Bank Trofee standings which is based on time rather than points. Having won the opening round of the series, he even extended his lead over second-placed Niels Albert to 45 seconds while Vantornout is 3rd 27 seconds further adrift.

 

The next round of the series takes place in Hasselt on November 16.

 

A race with proud traditions

As usual, the Koppenbergcross on the legendary Koppenberg climb near Oudenaarde was held on November 1. A cloudy day and a slightly muddy course greeted the riders.

 

As usual, Klaas Vantornout was the fastest starter but he was quickly overtaken by British champion Ian Field who opened op a gap over the peloton. Meanwhile, Philip Walsleben had chain problems with his chain and lost several positions as they headed around the circuit for the first time.

 

Field is the early leader

At the first passage of the line, Field was still the lone leader but he was now being chased by Joeri Adama. The next time up the Koppenberg, Rob Peeters accelerated and at the top, he had combined forces with Field and Adams to form a front trio.

 

Peeters was clearly the strongest and so gapped his companions while Walsleben - who was back in the field after his chase - separated himselves from the main peloton. Nys soon realized the danger and hit the front in a quest to catch the German champion.

 

The favourites show their cards

Only Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels and Tom Meeusen were able to keep up with Nys who caught Walsleben.  Moments later, Peeters was also back in the fold while Niels Albert was chasing on his own a little further behind.

 

Albert joined the leaders and had apparently recovered from his bad start. He moved to the front and set a hard pace. Until now, Nys had been looking very strong but the world champion was now paying the price for his hard work and was dropped from the front group.

 

A 9-rider group is formed

With 3 laps to go, the front group was made up of Walsleben, Vantornout, Pauwels, Albert and Meeusen   with Peeters, Nys, Adams and Corne Van Kessel chasing a little further behind. Just as they hit the climb, the Nys group regained contact with the leaders to form a 9-rider front group.

 

Albert and Pauwels set the pace on front and this put Adams and Van Kessel in difficulty. Halway up the climb, Pauwels accelerated but he was unable to shake off his man rivals and so his attack was a short-lived one. Instead, Albert once again hit the front and safely navigated the many technical corners on the descent. As the group hit the bottom, it slowed down which allowed Van Kessel to rejoin the leaders.

 

Walsleben attacks

When the 8-rider group started the penultimate lap, Albert once again tried to up the pace while Nys was now clearly struggling at the back. When Albert slowed down on the asphalt section, Walsleben saw an opportunity to attack and the German had built up a nice gap whe he hit the climb.

 

In the chase group, Pauwels was doing all the work with Albert on his wheel while Nys was still struggling at the back.  While the world champion and Van Kessel lost contact, Walsleben was caught.

 

Walsleben tries again

Walsleben refused to give up and he launched another powerful attack. Surprisingly, this was too much for Albert who fell off the pace alongside Peeters. The duo were overtaken by Nys who clawed his way back to the front group just when they started the descent.

 

The front group now consisted of Walsleben, Pauwels, Vantornout, Meeusen and Nys but Peeters and Albert managed to rejoin on the downhill section. Walsleben led the group all the way through the many technical corners and when the German entered the finishing straight to start the final lap, 7 riders were still together with Van Kessel chasing a little further behind.

 

Meeusen and Vantornout accelerate

Van Kessel managed to join the front group just in time for the climb. Peeters and Meeusen accelerated up the slopes and so his life in the front group was a short-lived one as he was dropped alongside Albert.

 

Near the top, Meeusen and Vantornout accelerated furiously but Pauwels and Nys maaged to stay in contact with their aggressive compatriots. Walsleben was chasing a little further behind and the German champion managed to rejoin the leaders on the descent.

 

Vantornout rides aggressively on the descent

Vantornout was leading the group down the descent with Meeusen, Pauwels, Nys and Walsleben on his wheel.  The Belgian champion showed excellent techical abilities to open up a gap while Nys made a rare mistake and had to run for a few metres, thus losing contact with Pauwels and Meeusen.

 

Meeusen and Pauwels managed to rejoin Vantornout on the flat section at the bottom of the descent and so the race was to be decided in a three-riders sprint. Meeusen opened his sprint just as he entered the finishing straight and Pauwels was unable to match his speed. Meeusen took a beautiful win ahead of Pauwels while Vantornout, Walsleben and Nys completed the top 5. Peeters, Van Kessel and Albert finished a little later to take 6th and 7th.

 

Result:

1. Tom Meeusen 59.06

2. Kevin Pauwel +0.02

3. Klaas Vatornout +0.05

4. Philip Walsleben +0.09

5. Sven Nys +0.10

6. Rob Peeters +0.24

7. Corne Van Kessel +0.25

8. Niels Albert +0.25

9. Thijs Van Amerongen +0.40

10. Julien Taramarcaz +0.46

 

Overall Bpost Bank Trofee standings:

1. Sven Nys 1.56.07

2. Niels Albert +0.45

3. Klaas Vantornout +1.12

4. Thijs Van Amerongen +1.48

5. Philip Walsleben +1.50

6. Tom Meeusen +2.05

7. Julien Taramarcaz +3.15

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