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After leading the race from start to finish, Pauwels soloed to victory in the Superprestige race in Ruddervoorde; Van Aert made a strong comeback to take second and extend his overall lead in the series

Photo: John de Jong








08.11.2015 @ 16:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels finally opened his 2015-16 account when he delivered a dominant performance in the Superprestige race in Ruddervoorde. After leading the race from start to finish, he held off a strong comeback from Wout Van Aert who dropped Sven Nys in the final lap to take second and extend his overall lead in the Superprestige standings.


With Wout Van Aert dominating almost every race, there has been little room for his rivals to pick up wins in the first part of the cyclo-cross season. One of the riders to have been left frustrated is Kevin Pauwels who was still without a win as he entered the month of November.


Today the Sunweb leader finally opened his account when he made up for his disappointment from yesterday’s European Championships. In the battle for the continental title, he had been set back by an early puncture and so an impressively strong ride was only enough for bronze.


Today he benefited maximally from his good condition to deliver a dominant performance in the third round of the Superprestige series. After Lars van der Haar had led the peloton through the first few turns, Pauwels hit the front and from there he never looked back, gradually dropping his rivals until there was no one left.


Initially, he was joined by Sven Nys, Tom Meeusen, Van Aert, Radomir Simunek and Klaas Vantornout while yesterday’s winner Lars van der Haar already lost contact in the first lap and never made it back to the front. The group was quickly halved as the latter three dropped off, leaving just three riders in the front.


Pauwels continued to ride on the front, gradually distancing Meeusen, but Nys was showing no signs of weakness until disaster struck at the halfway point. The veteran hit the deck in a sand section and lost a few seconds which cost him the chance to fight for victory.


Nys fell back to Meeusen whom he quickly dropped and he looked like he was riding away with second place until Van Aert suddenly had got the engine going. The overall leader of the series slowly made his way back to Nys and it briefly looked like the pair could make it back to Pauwels.


However, they soon started to lose ground and it became apparent that they were battling for second. While Pauwels rode safely to secure the win, Van Aert accelerated hard in the final lap, quickly leaving Nys behind and soloing his way to second place. The veteran still managed to take third in a strong comeback from yesterday’s illness while Vantornout made an equally impressive comeback from injury by taking fourth after having passed Meeusen in the final lap.


With van der Haar having to settle for sixth, it was still a good day for Van Aert who extended his lead in the overall Superprestige series. The Belgian now leads Nys and Pauwels who are joint second, by 7 points. The next race in the series takes place in Gavere next Sunday.


How it unfolded:

Lars van der Haar won the opening sprint and led the peloton through the first corners but was quickly passed by Kevin Pauwels who was keen to avoid yesterday’s unfortunate start. With a gradual acceleration, he created a four-rider front group as he was joined by Tom Meeusen, Sven Nys and Radomir Simunek.


Wout van Aert realized that he had missed the boat and so passed Klaas Vantornout to try to bridge across. The Belgian champion joined him in the move and he pair made it back after the halfway point of the circuit, making it a six-rider front group at the end of the first lap. They had an 8-second advantage over four chasers, van der Haar, Corne van Kessel, Jens Vandekinderen and a Sunweb rider.


Pauwels did not look back and when Nys made a mistake while riding in second position, the Sunweb captain got a gap. Further back, van der Haar was desperately trying to get back and had dropped his companions in the process.


Sweeck was unable to keep up with the rest of the chase group which split in two as Nys and Meeusen escaped. Van Aert moved to the front of his group and with Vantornout and Simunek on his wheel, he desperatelu tried to regain contact.


Nys and Meeusen caught Pauwels before the end of the second lap and at the passage of the line, they led their three chasers by 4 seconds. Van Kessel and Vanthourenhout had passed van der Haar who ws clearly not as strong as he had been 24 hours earlier but were losing ground to the first six riders.


Van Aert and Vantornout dropped Simunek but failed to gain ground on the front trio which was still led by Pauwels. Meanwhile, Meeusen was gradually losing ground and Nys had to dig deep to stay with Pauwels.


At the end of the third lap, Pauwels and Nys had distanced Meeusen by 4 seconds while van Aert and Vantornout were now more than 10 seconds behind, with Simunek still leading van der Haar, van Kessel and Vanthourenhout further back. However, disaster struck for Nys halfway through the lap when he went down in a sand section, leaving Pauwels as the lone leader. The Belgian led Nys and Meeusen by 5 seconds at the end of the lap while van Aert and Vantornout were at 14 seconds. Van der Haar and van Kessel had passed Simunek and were 16 seconds further back.


In the fifth lap, Nys dropped Meeusen who had been suffering for a while and the Belgian also dropped back to van Aert who had gradually found his legs and dropped Vantornout. However, Pauwels was clearly the fastest and had put 12 seconds into Nys at the end of the lap. Van Aert and Meeusen were just 2 seconds further adrift, with Vantornout following at 20 seconds and van der Haar at more than half a minute.


Van Aert joined Nys in the first part of the lap and immediately hit the front. He was slowly making his way back and as they started the seventh lap, the chasing pair were 12 seconds behind. Meeusen was at 22 seconds and Vantornout at 32 seconds.


It remained status quo for another lap but Vantornout was slowly getting closer to Meeusen. As the chasers failed to get any closer to Pauwels, Nys took over the pace-setting from van Aert. Meanwhile, Vantornout closed the final bit of the gap to Meeusen.


Nys’ pace-setting didn’t pay off though and as they started the final lap, the gap had gone out to 20 seconds. Meeusen and Vantornout were now 55 seconds behind.


Unsurprisingly, Van Aert accelerated as soon as they started the final lap and he gradually distanced Nys. The veteran did his best to keep up but had to settle for third. However, there was no one stopping Pauwels who had plenty of time to celebrate his first win of the season. Vantornout beat Meeusen in the battle for fourth.



1. Kevin Pauwels

2. Wout van Aert

3. Sven Nys

4. Klaas Vantornout

5. Tom Meeusen

6. Lars van der Haar

7. Corne van Kessel

8. Diether Sweeck

9. Laurens Sweeck

10. Tim Merlier


Overall standings:

1. Wout van Aert 44

2. Sven Nys 37

2. Kevin Pauwels 37

4. Lars van der Haar 35

5. Klaas Vantornout 23

6. Laurens Sweeck 22

7. Rob Peeters 21

8. Tim Merlier 19



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