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With another strong solo performance, Pauwels benefited from numerous technical mistakes from Sven Nys to win the Jaarmarktcross in Niel; Meeusen was second and Nys third

Photo: John de Jong

CYCLO-CROSS

NEWS

KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOM MEEUSEN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
11.11.2015 @ 16:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels confirmed that he has finally hit peak condition after a slow start to year by taking his second win of the season just three days after he opened his account in the Superprestige race in Ruddervoorde. In the Jaarmarktcross in Niel, the Sunweb captain delivered another stunning solo performance as he benefited maximally from several technical mistakes from defending champion Sven Nys who had to settle for third behind Tom Meeusen.

 

With Wout Van Aert dominating almost every race and Lars van der Haar picking up the rest, it has been hard for their rivals to get close to the victories in this cyclo-cross season. However, it now seems that the two dominant riders will have a hard time in their next races as Kevin Pauwels has confirmed his excellent condition by taking a second consecutive win just three days after the first victory.

 

Van Aert and van der Haar were both absent in today’s Jaarmarktcross in Niel which is not part of any of the major series, and so was the natural favourite alongside defending champion Sven Nys who has not won a single race since he triumphed in last year’s edition. However, things didn’t look good for the Sunweb captain in the first part of the race as he was riding far back in the group in the first laps.

 

Instead, it was a very motivated Nys who played with the muscles and created an initial selection very early in the race. He was joined by Tom Meeusen and Laurens Sweeck and clearly looked like the strongest rider while Pauwels was on the defensive further back.

 

For some reason, the technically excellent Nys made several mistakes that caused a number of crashes. One of those tumbles allowed Meeusen to get clear while Nys dropped back to a big chase group.

 

Nys again showed his strength by riding solo back to Meeusen but Pauwels and Sweeck also made it back while he took time to recover from his effort. Moments later he made another technical mistake which cost him precious seconds and that turned out to be decisive.

 

Pauwels quickly noticed that Nys had lost ground and he went straight to the front to apply the pressure. Sweeck was easily distanced and it didn’t take long to get rid of Meeusen too.

 

Meanwhile, Nys was back in chase mode and he quickly passed Sweeck and made it back to Meeusen. From there, it was a great battle between Nys and Pauwels but as the veteran failed to make any inroads and Meeusen managed to keep up with him, he turned his attention to the battle for second when two laps remained.

 

While Pauwels rode safely and strongly to another dominant victory, Nys let Meeusen set the pace during the penultimate lap until he made his big attack on the final lap. However, he was unable to get rid of his companion and so the battle for second was decided in a two-rider sprint. Nys tried to go from afar but Meeusen easily passed him.

 

Pauwels will get a chance to make it three in a row in the next major race which is Sunday’s Superprestige race in Asper-Gavere.

 

How it unfolded:

Michael Boros won the sprint and led the peloton across the finish line to start the first lap of the circuit. However, he was quickly passed by Laurens Sweeck who took control of the pace-setting in the early part of the race, followed by David van der Poel, Boros, Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout.

 

The peloton started to splinter as they hit the sand sector for the first time and Kevin Pauwels was among the riders to briefly lose contact. However, he was back in the main group when the pace went down as they hit the finishing straight at the end of the first lap.

 

Sweeck swung out, opening the door for Boros to launch an attack. However, Nys was quick to shut it down and the veteran soon moved to the front, starting to put his rivals under pressure.

 

Nys’ fast pace was too much for Boros, Sweeck and van der Poel who had been riding in the front positions and it was Meeusen who moved onto the defending champion’s wheel. The pair quickly distanced their rivals to form a lead dup with Sweeck in lone pursuit. Boros and van der Poel led a bigger group that included Vantornout and Pauwels. At the end of the second lap, Nys and Meeusen led Sweeck by 3 seconds while the first big group was 14 seconds behind.

 

Diether Sweeck attacked from the main group, meaning that the two Sweeck brothers ere the nearest chasers in the early part of the third lap. Laurens quickly managed to rejoin the leaders who were still led by Nys, with the veteran not looking back.

 

Nys was looking like the strongest rider until he made a costly mistake in one of the most difficult sections. The veteran went down and brought Sweeck to the ground too. That allowed Meeusen to escape while Sweeck and Nys were joined by Diether Sweeck, Tim Merlier, van der Poel, Pauwels and Boros to form a first chase group.

 

At the end of the third lap, Meeusen had put 11 seconds into his chasers who were led by Sweeck and Merlier. Boros was suffering and was left behind in the early part of the fourth lap.

 

Nys was on a bad day as he made another mistake and as he briefly came to a standstill, Merlier and Laurens Sweeck escaped. They slowly started to close the gap to Meeusen who seemed to be unable to maintain his speed while Nys led the chase a little further back.

 

While van der Poel was dropped due to a mechanical, Nys had gone bak up to speed and only Pauwels could follow the defending champion. The pair briefly bridged the gap to Merlier and Sweeck and as they crossed the finish line with seven laps to go, the chase quartet was just 8 seconds behind Meeusen.

 

Nys used his superior technical skills in a difficult section to first get rid of Merlier and then distance Sweeck and Pauwels. Moments later he had made it back to Meeusen and as the pair crossed the finish line, they had a 2-second advantage over Pauwels, with Sweeck following two seconds further behind and Merlier riding 17 seconds behind.

 

Pauwels quickly rejoined the leaders and as the tactical game started, Sweeck also made the junction. However, the young Belgian was clearly suffering as Meeusen continued to set a fast pace on the front.

 

Nys again made a stupid mistake in the sand which allowed Meeusen to get a gap. Pauwels quickly bridged across and the pair led Sweeck by 3 seconds and Nys by 5 seconds at the next passage of the line. Merlier and Adams were next but they were more than 30 seconds behind.

 

Pauwels had now hit the front and was applying some serious pressure while Nys was chasing desperately. As a consequence, he rode into a barrier and lost precious seconds.

 

Nys quickly made it back to Sweeck while Pauwels was now looking like the rider who dominated the race in Ruddervoorde. Meeusen was unable to keep up with him and slowly had to let the Sunweb captain go. At the passage of the line, Pauwels had already distanced Meeusen by 17 seconds and the Sunweb rider had been joined by Nys who had dropped Sweeck.

 

The next lap developed into a fierce pursuit between Pauwels and Nys, with Meeusen hanging on for dear life. The pair were equally matched as the gap was still 17 seconds at the start of the next lap where Meeusen finally came through for a turn. Sweeck was far behind in fourth.

 

Nys quickly took over the pace-setting again as Meeusen hung on for dear life before again hitting the front on the finishing straight. However, the pair had lost ground as they were now trailing by 21 seconds. Sweeck was 51 seconds behind.

 

Nys now seemed to be focused on second place and so let Meeusen set the pace during the penultimate lap before again hitting the front at the start of the final lap when the pair was almost 30 seconds behind. Sweeck had been distanced by 1.30.

 

Nys immediately tried to apply the pressure in the final lap but Meeusen did well to hang onto his wheel. The Sunweb rider took over the pace-setting for most of the lap until Nys made his final attempt to distance him just after the sand.

 

That move didn’t work and the pair entered the finishing straight together after Pauwels had already celebrated his win. Nys did a long sprint but was easily passed by Meeusen. Sweeck took fourth, Merlier fifth and Adams sixth while Jan Denuwelaere beat Vantornout in the sprint for sixth.

 

Result:

1. Kevin Pauwels

2. Tom Meeusen

3. Sven Nys

4. Laurens Sweeck

5. Tim Merlier

6. Jens Adams

7. Jan Denuwelaere

8. Klaas Vantornout

9. Michael Boros

10. Dieter Vanthourenhout

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