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Pauwels benefits from Nys' mistake when the world champion crashes and allows the Sunweb captain to go clear on his own while Nys recovers from his tumble to take 2nd ahead of Albert and extend his lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee

Photo: John de Jong

KEVIN PAUWELS

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NIELS ALBERT

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21.12.2013 @ 16:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels rode a superb race to win today's Bpost Bank Trofee cyclo-cross race in Essen when he was he benefited from a crash from Sven Nys to take his second win in a week. The world champion was riding towards a dominant solo win when he hit the deck, allowing the Sunweb rider to take control of the race, while Nys recovered to take 2nd and extend his lead in the overall Bpost Bank Trofee standings.

 

Kevin Pauwels had a difficult start to the season but after enjoying a mid-season training camp under the Spanish sun, the Belgian has now finally found the legs that have made him one of the dominant cyclo-cross riders in recent years. After winning his first race in almost a year in Kalmthout one week ago, he added today's Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen to his palmares.

 

Pauwels took a hugely impressive solo win and was clearly in a class of his own in the second part of the race. However, his win was only made possible by another mistake for Sven Nys who continued his recent string of crashes at a time when he had ridden away from everyone else and seemed destined to take a crushing victory.

 

The world champion tried to bunny hop the barriers but crashed into the barriers. He took some time to get going again and had to ride a long way to get to the pits where he could get a replacement bike.

 

When he was finally firing on all cylinders again, he found himself riding on his own behind the main peloton while Pauwels had been quick to take advantage from his misfortune. The Sunweb rider had now escaped on his own and now found himself in the same position as Nys had done a little earlier.

 

Unlike the world champion, Pauwels didn't make any mistakes and he kept the pace high all the way to the finish to take a convincing win. Meanwhile, Nys spent some time at the back of the peloton to recover from his crash before hitting the gas with two laps to go. Again he showed his superiority by riding away from everyone else to take 2nd while Niels Albert took 3rd on a day where he was in defence mode throughout the entire race.

 

Zdenek Stybar made his much anticipated comeback to cyclo-cross in the race and was the final rider to get dropped by Nys when the world champion put down the hammer in the first part of the race. However, the Czech paid the price for his lack of racing towards the end and had to settle for 8th. There is room for improvement ahead of his next race which will be the World Cup in Heusden-Zolder on Thursday.

 

With the win, Nys extended his lead in the overall Bpost Bank Trofee race which is decided on time and not points. He is now 1.06 ahead of Albert ahead of the next round of the series which takes place on December 27 in Loenhout.

 

The best cyclo-cross riders will be back in action tomorrow in the World Cup race in Namur.

 

Pauwels shows his intentions

Kevin Pauwels was keen to take another win after triumphing one week ago in Kalmthout and the Belgian won the sprint to enter the first muddy section in first position. He was overtaken by Thijs van Amerongen and the Dutchman led the peloton through most of the first lap.

 

In his first race back, Zdenek Stybar had started far back but had had a solid start and was riding in around 10th position alongside Sven Nys and was already ahead of Niels Albert who had had his usual slow start.

 

Van Amerongen sets the pace

Van Amerongen set a solid pace and only Pauwels and Radomir Simunek were able to keep up with him. Towards the end of the lap, the trio had opened up a small gap while Tom Meeusen had taken over the pace-setting duties in the main group. The Belgian managed to get across while Marcel Meisen was now on the front in the peloton.

 

At the first passage of the line, the front quartet were 5 seconds ahead of Nys and Meisen who had a small advantage over the peloton which was led by Stybar. The wold champion had started to slowly in Wednesday's cross in Waasland and was keen to avoid doing the same mistake. He made a fast acceleration to close the gap to the front group but he had the rest of the peloton in tow.

 

Van Amerongen wins the sprint

Van Amerongen was on fire in the first part of the race and the Dutchman was still setting the pace in the group that had been reduced to just a little more than 10 riders. Albert was still riding at the back of the group but appeared to not be troubled by van Amerongen's pace.

 

Van Amerongen won the bonus sprint on the second lap ahead of Simunek and Nys, with the world champion making a small acceleration to pick up bonus seconds and so extend his lead in the overall standings. As Simunek stumbled, van Amerongen got clear on his own but Nys quickly hit the front and brought the Dutchman back into the fold.

 

Nys shows his cards

Nys was now riding hard and soon after, he had created a front quartet consisting of van Amerongen, Meeusen, Stybar and himself. Albert sensed the danger and started to move up in the main peloton while Pauwels tried to bridge across to the leaders.

 

The Sunweb rider accomplished his mission but just as he had regained contact, Nys opened up a small gap. The world champion started the third lap with a 2-second gap over his chasers, with Rob Peeters being on his own in between the chase group and the peloton which was led by Philipp Walsleben.

 

Stybar bridges acroos

Stybar managed to close the gap to Nys and so the front quintet was back together. However, the world champion was in a determined mode and kept the pace high to put his companions in difficulty.

 

In fact, Nys was riding so fast that only Stybar could keep up with him, with Meeusen desperately trying to get across. The main peloton now only consisted of Walsleben, Klaas Vantornout, Albert, Wietse Bosmans, Jim Aernouts and Bart Aernouts, with Walsleben still doing all the work.

 

Peeters joins the front group

The front group came back together and Peeters managed to join from behind. Hence, it was now six against six as the groups approached the end of the third lap.

 

Nys kept the pace high and just before the end of the lap, the world champion and Stybar again opened a gap. At the same time, disaster struck for Meeusen whose chain came off and when he was back on the bike, he found himself been stuck in the chase group which was still led by Walsleben.

 

Nys escapes on his own

Now the pace became too much for Stybar and the Czech was unable to hold onto Nys' wheel. The world champion escaped on his own while Stybar was joined from behind by Pauwels, with Peeters and van Amerongen riding together a few second further back.

 

Nys crossed the line to start the fourth lap with 4-second gap over Stybar and Pauwels while Peeters and van Amerongen were 7 seconds further adrift. Walsleben, Meeusen and Bart Aernouts were next while Albert was working hard in his group almost 30 seconds behind his archrival Nys.

 

Stybar loses ground

Stybar was now paying the price for his fast start and started to lose ground to Nys. Instead of getting closer to the world champion, he and Pauwels got company from Peeters while van Amerongen was desperately trying to get across.

 

Albert was now riding better and with Vantornout and Jim Aernouts on his wheel, he closed the gap to Walsleben and Bart Aernouts who had dropped Meeusen.

 

Nys extends his gap

Stybar was leading the chase but despite his best efforts, he kept losing ground to Nys who relished the muddy course in Essen. Instead, the group with Walsleben and Albert was now getting closer to the four-rider chase group which had again been joined by van Amerongen.

 

Nys crossed the line to start the fifth lap with a big 14-second gap over his chasers. Walsleben led the next group onto the lap 7 seconds further adrift, with Meeusen and Bosman following a few seconds later.

 

Stybar was now fading and he left the pace-setting duties to Pauwels who clearly upped the pace. Meanwhile, Walsleben and Vantornout had separated themselves from their companions.

 

Disaster for Nys

This was when Nys continued his recent string of bad luck in races when he crashed into the fence while bunny-hopping. He was quickly back on his bike but took some time to get going and adjust his chain and when he was finally back in racing mood, he found himself back in the Vantornout group.

 

Pauwels, Peeters, Stybar and van Amerongen were now leading the race ahead of a larger group that had been formed and was led by Walsleben. Nys needed a bike change in the pits and so lost contact with that group as they approached the end of the lap.

 

Pauwels escapes on his own

Pauwels was clearly the strongest in the front group and he managed to escape on his own. Meanwhile, Walsleben, Vantornout and Jim Aernouts had joined Sybar, Peeters and an Amerongen while Meeusen and Bart Aernouts followed suit a few moments later.

 

At the next passage of the line, Pauwels was 11 seconds ahead of Stybar who escaped just before the passage of the line while the peloton was 6 seconds further adrift. Nys was riding on his own, 8 seconds behind the main group.

 

Nys back in the peloton

Aernouts, Meeusen and Nys all joined the peloton to form a big group that was now in pursuit of Pauwels and Stybar. However, Pauwels has come out of his mid-season training camp on Mallorca in splendid condition and was not slowing down at all.

 

At the next passage of the line, Pauwels had extended his lead over Stybar to 25 seconds. Just before they started the lap, Meeusen, van Amerongen and Jim Aernouts joined the Czech chaser while Nys, Albert and Vantornout were all riding near the back of the main group.

 

Walsleben makes an acceleration

Meeusen and Stybar changed their bikes in the pits and so fell back to the peloton while Jim Aernouts and van Amerongen continued on their own. Walsleben had taken a small breather after his long chase and was now back on fire and managed to get across to the two chasers.

 

Pauwels was clearly the strongest and as he passed the line to start the penultimate lap, he was a massive 30 seconds ahead of Aernouts and van Amerongen who had again dropped Walsleben. The German champion led the peloton across the line 11 seconds further adrift while Meeusen crossed the line a little later, his jersey clearly indicating that he had hit the deck.

 

Nys accelerates

Nys had now recovered from his crash and decided that it was time to launch his next acceleration. The world champion hit the front as soon as they had crossed the line and quickly distanced his companions.

 

Nys quickly approached the two chasers but as he wisely decided to run over the barriers instead of bonny-hopping, Stybar who continued his yoyo race, joined him. However, their contact was a brief one as Nys dropped his companion a few moments later.

 

Nys back in the chase group

Towards the end of the lap, Nys had joined Aernouts and van Amerongen while Albert had finally got his diesel engine going. The former world champion managed to join the chasers just before the end of the lap, with the quartet starting the final lap with a time gap of 36 seconds. Stybar and Peeters were next, followed by Bart Aernouts.

 

Van Amerongen had to change his bike in the pits and fell back to Peeters who had dropped Stybar. Meanwhile, Nys was sitting nicely on the wheel of Aernouts, catching his breath before launching a final acceleration one third through the lap.

 

Nys gets clear

Albert had to dig deep to stay on Nys' wheel but the world champion was unable to get rid of his companion. Instead, Peeters and van Amerongen were getting closer and finally joined the chase trio.

 

Nys upped the pace again towards the end of the lap and this time, Albert was unable to respond. The current world champion got clear while Albert was now clearly struggling and lost contact with Aernouts too.

 

Solo win for Pauwels

However, Pauwels was totally unconcerned with the battle for 2nd place and he had plenty of time to celebrate when he entered the finishing straight on his own. He took his second win of the season exactly one week after taking the first one.

 

Nys stayed clear to take 2nd, sprinting all the way to the line to maximize his time gains while Albert had recovered to beat Aernouts, van Amerongen and Peeters in the sprint for 3rd. Bart Aernouts was 7th, Stybar 8th, Vantonout 9th while Walsleben rounded off the top 10 a few seconds before Meeusen crossed the line with his jersey completely ripped up.

 

Result:

1. Kevin Pauwels

2. Sven Nys +0.28

3. Niels Albert +0.34

4. Jim Aernouts +0.38

5. Thijs van Amerongen +0.41

6. Rob Peeters +0.47

7. Bart Aernouts +0.54

8. Zdenek Stybar +1.04

9. Klaas Vantornout +1.10

10. Philipp Walsleben +1.21

 

Overall standings:

1. Sven Nys

2. Niels Albert +1.06

3. Klaas Vantornout +1.59

4. Thijs van Amerongen +2.44

5. Tom Meeusen +3.39

6. Philipp Walsleben +3.50

7. Bart Aernouts +4.35

8. Rob Peeters +5.23

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