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Having paced himself well throughout the race, Pauwels dropped van der Haar in a muddy section on the final lap to win his second World Cup race in a row and extend his overall lead

Photo: John de Jong

CYCLO-CROSS

NEWS

KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

LARS VAN DER HAAR

NEWS

PHILIPP WALSLEBEN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

WORLD CUP - CROSS

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
21.12.2014 @ 17:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels continued his domination of the World Cup when he won the fourth round of the series in impressive fashion just a few weeks after his win in Milton Keynes. Having ridden a consistent race on the muddy and hilly course in Namur, he finally dropped Lars van der Haar with a big acceleration on the final lap and held off the Dutch champion to both win the race and extend his lead in the overall standings.

 

With his win at the World Cup round in Milton Keynes, Kevin Pauwels positioned himself as the hot favourite to win the World Cup overall. Only his teammate Klaas Vantornout seemed to be a possible threat to his crown and when his teammate skipped today’s race on the muddy and hilly course in Namur, Pauwels’ lead was further strengthened.

 

With an impressive performance, Pauwels left no one doubting about his superiority in the series. With a consistent and perfectly timed effort, the Belgian won the race in the Wallonia region for the second time in his career.

 

In the early part of the race, nothing suggested that Pauwels would go on to win the race as the Belgian was suffering near the back of the main group that gradually got smaller and smaller. However, he was unfazed by the many attacks from riders like Tom Meeusen and Lars van der Haar who both had stints as lone leaders of the race and continued to ride at his own pace.

 

At a point when Meeusen and van der Haar had escaped on his own, he paced his way back to the front with Corne van Kessel on his wheel. However, he seemed to have lost the race a little later when a big acceleration from van der Haar saw the Dutch champion go clear.

 

While Meeusen drifted backwards and van Kessel crashed on a slippery descent, Pauwels made no mistake and managed to rejoin the lone leader before the start of the penultimate lap. The pair seemed to be intent on deciding everything on the final lap and while they looked at each other, Philipp Walsleben got closer and closer.

 

The German champion made it to within five seconds of the leaders before Pauwels made his attack in a muddy section. Van der Haar started to pay the price for his big efforts earlier in the race and the Dutch champion lost contact to the superior Pauwels who quickly opened a big gap.

 

From there, the outcome was never in doubt and Pauwels comfortable made it two in a row in the World Cup series. Van der Haar and Walsleben completed the podium while the fading Meeusen had to settle for fourth.

 

With the win, Pauwels extended his overall lead to a massive 77 points with just two rounds remaining. The riders will be in action again in only 5 days when they tackle the famous race in Heusden-Zolder on Boxing Day.

 

How it unfolded:

Right from the start, the riders started to climb in the hilly area around Namur and it was Tom Meeusen who accelerated hard right from the beginning. He was passed by Marcel Wildhaber who became a surprise early leader of the peloton which was strung out as they headed down the descent.

 

Wildhaber’s fast pace created the first splits, with the Swiss being joined by Sacha Weber to form a front duo. Behind Tom Meeusen, Rob Peeters and Corne Van Kessel were trying to bridge the gap while Lars van der Haar tried to move up through the peloton.

 

Philipp Walsleben bridged the gap to the three chasers who were just 4 seconds behind the surprise front duo at the end of the first lap. A second chase group with Kevin Pauwels, Francis Mourey, Lars van der Haar, Fabien Canal and Wietse Bosmans was just 4 seconds further back and things were about to come back together.

 

As they went up the first big climb, the two chase groups merged and they soon bridged the gap to the front group, meaning that 11 riders were now leading the race. Wildhaber refused to look back and he continued to set the pace as they headed through the many technical sections of the muddy circuit.

 

While Jens Adams took over the pace-setting, riders started to get dropped from the front group. Canal and Bosmans were the first to lose contact, dropping back to Jens Adams who was moving up through the ranks and just before they crossed the finish line for the second time, defending champion Mourey had also fallen behind.

 

In the third lap, it was Wildhaber back in control, with the Swiss mountain biker looking surprisingly strong. Until now, van Kessel and Meeusen had been riding near the front while overall leader Pauwels was suffering near the back.

 

Going through a muddy section, the Telenet duo of van Kessel and Meeusen accelerated furiously and only Wildhaber was able to keep up with them. Van der Haar and Walsleben managed to bridge the gap whil Pauwels was still suffering further back.

 

On the next climb, Meeusen was fast than everybody else and he made use of the slopes to distance his companions. As he crossed the line at the end of the third lap, he had distanced his chasers by 8 seconds.

 

On the fourth lap, Peeters, Pauwels and Weber briefly rejoined the chasers until van der Haar decided that it was time to make his effort. The Dutch champion accelerated hard on the first steep climb and quickly got rid of all his companions.

 

Van der Haar quickly bridged the gap to Meeusen while Pauwels and van Kessel had joined forces in pursuit of the two leaders. While van der Haar had positioned himself on Meeusen’s wheel, it was Pauwels doing all the work in the chase group.

 

Going up the next big climb, van der Haar was again dropped by Meeusen who was clearly the stronger of the two in the running sections. Meanwhile, Peeters, Walsleben and Wildhaber had joined forces to form a second chase group a little further back.

 

At the end of the fourth lap, Pauwels and van Kessel had caught van der Haar and they were now 5 seconds behind the lone leader. The second chase group was losing ground and had already conceded nearly half a minute.

 

Pauwels’ hard work paid off as the chasers caught Meeusen as they had reached the halfway point of the race. Van der Haar quickly moved to the front as he tried to distance his rivals and in a muddy section he succeeded in getting rid of van Kessel.

 

Van der Haar was unable to drop Meeusen and Pauwels and as they went through the finish area, he briefly slowed down. This opened the door for Meeusen to put in an attack but as they crossed the line, the four leaders, including van Kessel, were back together while Walsleben followed at 12 seconds and Peeters was 15 seconds further adrift.

 

As they hit the climb, van der Haar attacked again and this time he managed to make a difference. In a very short amount of time, the Dutch champion distanced his rivals considerably while Meeusen made a mistake that saw him drop out of the chase group.

 

Walsleben passed Meeusen who started to pay the prize for his hard start to the race and he was getting closer to the two chasers which continued to lose ground to van der Haar. Disaster struck for ban Kessel on a descent as he slid out and even though he was unhurt, it took a long time for him to fix his bike, meaning that Walsleben and Meeusen both managed to pass him.

 

At the end of the sixth lap, van der Haar was 7 second ahead of Pauwels while Walsleben was now at 19 seconds. Meeusen was still in podium contention as he was only 10 seconds further back but everybody else seemed to be out of the battle for the top positions as van Kessel and Peeters were both more than 45 seconds behind.

 

As he had done all race, Pauwels continued to pace himself and as the rain started to fall, he rejoined van der Haar just before they started the penultimate lap. He went straight to the front and led the pair across the line while Walsleben was getting closer as he was now just 14 seconds behind. On the other hand, Meeusen was drifting backwards and was trailing the leaders by 34 seconds.

 

When van der Haar slowed down, Pauwels hit the front and he led the pair across the line for the penultimate time. Walsleben continued to get closer to the front duo and was just 9 seconds behind at the start of the final lap. Meeusen was at 45 seconds.

 

While the front duo played a bit of cat-and-mouse, Walsleben was getting closer and closer. The German champion was less than five seconds behind when they hit the second big climb of the circuit.

 

Pauwels accelerated slightly on the slopes but it was in the subsequent muddy section that he made the difference. Van der Haar fell behind and Pauwels soon realized that he was the lone leader.

 

The World Cup leader now went full gas and he put daylight into van der Haar in the second half of the circuit. As he hit the short finishing straight, he had plenty of time to celebrate his win, making it two in a row in the World Cup. Van der Haar finished 10 seconds later while Walsleben had to settle for third in front of Meeusen.

 

Result:

1. Kevin Pauwels 1.07.43

2. Lars van der Haar +0.10

3. Philipp Walsleben +0.19

4. Tom Meeusen +1.24

5. Corne van Kessel +1.38

6. Marcel Wildhaber +1.46

7. Rob Peeters +2.05

8. Jens Adams +2.10

9. Sacha Weber +2.24

10. Julien Taramarcaz +2.30

 

Overall standings:

  1. 1. Kevin Pauwels 300
  2. 2. Tom Meeusen 223
  3. 3. Corne van Kessel  218
  4. 4. Philipp Walsleben 214
  5. 5. Lars van der Haar 210
  6. 6. Klaas Vantornout 185
  7. 7. Jens Adams 170
  8. 8. Francis Mourey 164
  9. 9. Rob Peeters 161
  10. 10. Bart Wellens 143

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