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On the unusual course, Pauwels distanced van der Haar on the final lap to win the first ever Superprestige race on the F1 track in Spa-Francorchamps; the pair share the overall lead

Photo: John de Jong










23.11.2014 @ 16:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On a course that was tailor-made for him, Kevin Pauwels won the first edition of the Superprestige race on the F1 track in Spa-Francorchamps. Having escaped with Lars van der Haar, he dropped his companion who crashed in the final lap, to take a solo win and the pair now also shares the lead in the overall Superprestige standings.


After finishing second in yesterday’s World Cup race in Koksijde, Kevin Pauwels told Sporza that he was looking forward to today’s Superprestige race in Spa-Francorchamps. Held on the F1 track in the Belgian city, the race was an unusual one, with lots of running, steep climbs and very little mud.


The course suited Pauwels down to the ground and so it was no surprise that the Belgian took his second Superprestige victory in the maiden edition of the race. Already in the early part of the race, he played with the muscles, using his excellent running skills to make a difference.


Just before the hallway point, Pauwels and Lars van der Haar distanced their rivals and from there it was a two-rider battle. While the former constantly applied the pressure, the latter who was back after skipping yesterday’s race due to illness, hung on for dear life.


However, van der Haar did well to respond to Pauwels’ many attacks and when they started the final lap, the pair were still together. Knowing that Pauwels would be the strongest on the steep climb to the finish, van der Haar made a big attack as they crossed the finish line for the penultimate time but Pauwels never seemed to be in trouble.


Van der Haar gambled too much in a turn which caused his bike to slide out and this was the opportunity that Pauwels was waiting for. The Sunweb got a big gap and managed to increase his advantage in the second half of the circuit to take a convincing solo win while a disappointed van der Haar had to settle for second.


Tom Meeusen was left wondering what might have been after he had finished the race in third. The Telenet-Fidea rider had looked very strong in the early part of the race but was set back when he suffered a puncture that forced him to run with his bike all the way to the pits.


Meeusen made an impressive comeback to rejoin the main group but it caused him to miss out when Pauwels and van der Haar got clear. In the final part of the race, he started a lone chase and he constantly reduced his deficit but ran out of metres and had to settle for third.


For overall leader Sven Nys, it was a bad day. The course didn’t suit the Belgian champion and for the secon day in a row, the Belgian champion was far off the pace, rolling across the line in 8th.


This meant that he lost his overall lead and slipped to fourth in the overall standings, 3 points behind Pauwels and van der Haar who now share the lead. Mathieu van der Poel is third, just 1 point behind the two leaders.


The Superprestige series now takes a long break before the next race is held in Diegem on December 28. The best cyclo-cross riders will be back in action on Saturday when they tackle the World Cup race in the British city of Milton Keynes.


Tim Merlier won the sprint as the riders took the start on the famous F1 track in Spa-Francorchamps, leading the peloton across the line after the hard climb to the finish. The Belgian led the race for a little while before Sacha Weber and Gert-Jan Bosman took over in a race whose start was dominated by some of the less known riders.


Just before the long, steep climb where the riders were forced to run, Bosman made a mistake which caused him to lose his position in the front. Meanwhile, the big names started to move up and it didn’t take long for Mathieu van der Poel to hit the front.


The peloton was starting to split up and the pace got faster when Klaas Vantornout made an acceleration as they approached the finish for the first time. Going up the climb to the finish, Joeri Adams took over and he led a 25-rider group across the line.


Adams continued to set the pace in the early part of the second lap but he lost his position when they hit the long climb. Philip Walsleben showed great running skills by creating a gap while the peloton started to splinter a little further back.


Kevin Pauwels,Tom Meesusen, Lars van der Haar and Corne van Kessel joined the German champion to form a front quintet but as they hit the asphalt on the finishing straight, Sven Nys, Vantornout, Mathieu van der Poel, Thijs van Amerongen and Jens Adams also made the junctions, meaning that a 10-rider front group had been created. Meanwhile, Bart Wellens was already far behind and out of the battle for the top positions.


In the early part of the third lap, Pauwels made a big acceleration but he failed to make much of a separation. Instead, Walsleben took over and he again led the group when they started to run up the big climb.


Walsleben, van der Haar and Pauwels again proved that they are among the best runners in the peloton when they distanced the rest. Meeusen managed to join the trio but the Telenet rider suffered an untimely mechanical that forced him to run to the pits, causing to drop far behind.


Vantornout did a hug effort to join the front trio while Nys and van der Poel had combined forces a little further behind. The pair made the junction on the finishing straight and as Walsleben led the group across the line at the end of the third lap, Meeusen and Jens Adams had also made it across.


Pauwels was on fire and the Sunweb captain rode hard as they started the fourth lap. Only van der Haar was able to match his speed, meaning that a front duo took off.


Running up the long climb, Pauwels distanced van der Haar while van Kessel rejoined the main group. While Adams led the chase, van der Haar caught Pauwels and the pair was constantly increasing their advantage.


At the passage of the line, the duo were more than 10 seconds ahead and this was the signal for Nys to kick into action. While Pauwels did all the work in the front group, the Belgian champion led the chase group from which Walsleben had disappeared.


At the next passage of the line, the chase group of Adams, Vantornout, Nys, van Kessel, Meeusen and van der Poel was 30 seconds behind. At this point, Nys showed clear signs of weakness as he exploded up the final climb and lost contact with the chasers.


In the early part of the next lap, van der Poel made a big attack and he quickly distanced the rest of the chasers. Meanwhile, van der Haar had taken over the pace-setting in the front duo.


Pauwels who had looked like the strongest rider, suddenly started to suffer and in a muddy section he lost contact with van der Haar. However, it was all caused by pedal problems and when he got a new bike in the pit zone, he quickly rejoined van der Haar whom he started to put under pressure on the climb to the finish.


Up the climb, Meeusen passed van der Poel and at the passage of the line, he had reduced the deficit to 23 seconds. Vantornout, Adams and van Kessel were not far behind while Nys was just 10 seconds behind Meeusen.


Pauwels briefly managed to distance van der Haar in the early part of the penultimate lap but the Dutch champion quickly regained contact. Meanwhile, van der Poel, van  Kessel, Vantornout and Adams had joined forces in the pursuit of Meeusen.


As the front duo hit the finishing straight, they quickly exchanged words before van der Haar hit the front. Near the top, Pauwels put in an attack but van der Haar managed to respond.


At the passage of the line, Meeusen had reduced his deficit to 15 seconds while the four chasers were at 33 seconds. Nys had briefly regained contact but on the climb, he was dropped again.


Van der Haar had seemed to be suffering for most of the race but as they started the final lap, the Dutch champion hit the front, trying to distance Pauwels. However, the pace was too fast and he slid out in a turn. He was quickly back on his bike but was now far behind his former companion.


Van der Haar did his best in the chase but it was too late. Pauwels maintained a high pace and even managed to increase his advantage.


Hitting the finishing straight, Pauwels had plenty of time to celebrate his win but he sprinted all the way to the line. Van der Haar crossed the line to take second while Meeusen ran out of metres and had to settle for third. Van der Poel had made a late attack to take fourth ahead of Adama while Vantornout, van Kessel and Nys completed the top 8.



1. Kevin Pauwels

2. Lars van der Haar

3. Tom Meeusen

4. Mathieu van der Poel

5. Jens Adams

6. Klaas Vantornout

7. Corne van Kessel

8. Sven Nys

9. Rob Peeters

10. Thijs van Amerongen


Overall standings:

1. Kevin Pauwels 63

2. Lars van der Haar 63

3. Mathieu van der Poel 62

4. Sven Nys 60

5. Klaas Vantornout 59

6. Tom Meeusen 58

7. Corne van Kessel 37

8. Jens Adams 31

9. Bart Aernouts 28

10. Philip Walsleben 22



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