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After a short-lived duel with archrival van der Poel, van Aert proved his great potential by distancing most of the best riders by almost a minute in the World Cup race in Koksijde; Pauwels takes the overall lead

Photo: Feltet.dk

CYCLO-CROSS

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KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MATHIEU VAN DER POEL

RIDER PROFILE
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WORLD CUP - CROSS

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
22.11.2014 @ 16:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice) proved his position as the biggest cyclocross talent when he crushed the opposition after a great solo performance in the World Cup race in the Koksijde sand. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb) finished a distant second to take the overall lead in the series while Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP) held on to third after having been involved in a duel with his U23 rival.

 

A few weeks ago, Wout van Aert proved that he already belongs to the best riders in the world when he won the prestigious Koppenbergcross after an exciting duel with cyclocross legend Sven Nys. Today he confirmed that he has entered the elite when he won another very prestigious Belgian cross race, the famous World Cup race in the Koksijde sand.

 

Van Aert not only took the win in Belgium, he did so in very convincing fashion. Right from the start he showed his intentions by upping the pace after the opening sprint and already on the second lap he escaped with fellow youngster Mathieu and David van der Poel and Laurens Sweeck.

 

Van Aert didn’t look back and only Mathieu van der Poel was able to keep up with him, creating another great duel between the two riders that dominated the U23 races last year. This time, however, they were chased by the entire cyclocross elite but even though both Sven Nys and Klaas Vantornout both tried to get back in contention, they constantly lost time to the two leaders.

 

Van Aert was clearly the strongest and repeatedly dropped van der Poel. The Dutchman managed to rejoin his rival several times but on the third lap, he finally had to give up.

 

From there, it was a demonstration of force by van Aert who increased his advantage in almost every lap until he was more than a minute ahead of the peloton. The Belgian maintained his speed all the way to the end to take a convincing solo win.

 

While the winner was never in doubt, the battle for second was exciting. While van der Poel was clearly fading, Kevin Pauwels attacked from the peloton and on the penultimate lap, he managed to pass his Dutch rival. While Pauwels confirmed his great form by taking a convincing second place, Van der Poel dug really deep to narrowly keep the chasers at bay to take the final spot on the podium, with Tom Meeusen winning the sprint for fourth.

 

Pre-race favourite Sven Nys had a very bad day. The veteran repeatedly tried to distance his rivals in the main group but he never got much of an advantage. Realizing that the win was beyond his reach, he decided to save energy for tomorrow’s Superprestige race and rolled across the line in 15th.

 

After winner of the first round Lars van der Haar didn’t take the start due to illness, Pauwels took over the lead in the overall standings. He now leads Klaas Vantornout and Tom Meeusen by 25 points as they go into the third round next Saturday in the British city of Milton Keynes. Most of the riders will be back in action tomorrow in the Superprestige race in Francorchamps.

 

How it unfolded:

Wout van Aert won the opening sprint and led the peloton up the first climb while a big crash in the rear end of the peloton was a setback for a lot of riders. Van Aert’s hard pace strung out the peloton and as it was the case in last week’s Superprestige race, Sven Nys had got the race off to a poor start. The Belgian champion was outside the top 15 when they entered the sand for the first time.

 

Philip Walsleben took over the pace-setting and his acceleration created a split, meaning that the German champion, van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and David van der Poel got a small gap. Michael Vanthourenhout and Laurens Sweeck bridged the gap to create a front group mostly made up by youngsters but by the time, Walsleben led the group onto the finishing straight for the first time, 15 riders – including Nys, Klaas Vantornout, Tom Meeusen and Kevin Pauwels – were together.

 

Crossing the finish line, Sweeck made a big attack and the youngster briefly got a small gap. As they hit the first sand section, however, he had been brought back and now Nys started to move up, exiting the zone in sixth position.

 

A small mistake by Sweeck allowed Matheiu van der Poel to get a gap and he was quickly joined by van Aert and Sweeck to form a strong front trio. David van der Poel set off in pursuit before Nys and Thijs van Amerongen gapped the rest of the chasers.

 

Sweeck got dropped in the final sand section and so U23 archrivals van der Poel and van Aert crossed the finish line with an 8-second advantage over Sweeck and van der Poel. The Nys group had again been caught by most of the race favourites to form a 13-rider peloton which was 13 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Sweeck was unable to keep up with van der Poel and as Nys set a hard pace in the peloton, both chasers were brought back. Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel was struggling in the front group where van Aert appeared to be the strongest.

 

Nys hard tempo meant that the peloton split, creating a chase group with van der Poel, Pauwels, Vantornout, Sweeck and the Belgian champion. However, they kept losing group to the pair of youngsters while Meeusen desperately tried to get back in contention.

 

In the final sand section, van der Poel was dropped from the chase group, meaning that a four-ruder group crossed the line with a 14-second deficit. However, they were brought back in the early part of the fourth lap, meaning that a big group had again been created.

 

In all the sand section, van Aert managed to drop van der Poel but the latter gauged his effort perfectly and managed to get back on every time. Meanwhile, Vantornout took over the pace-setting in the chase group after Nys briefly disappeared from the front.

 

In one of the final sand sections, van Aert finally managed to get rid of van der Poel for good and when he crossed the line at the halfway point, he was 9 seconds ahead of his archrival. 22 seconds further back, Vantornout’s hard pace had whittled the chase group down to just himself, Meeusen, Nys, Pauwels, Walsleben, Sweeck, Rob Peeters and Corne van Kessel.

 

In the fifth lap, van Aert extended his advantage over van der Poel to 11 seconds while Vantornout and Walsleben managed to escape from the chasers. At the crossing of the line, however, they were 33 seconds behind while the Nys group was at 38 seconds.

 

In the sixth lap, Nys and Pauwels joined Vantornout and Walsleben but the group was caught just before they entered the finishing straight. Pauwels launched a new attack and at the passage of the line, he has created a 5-second advantage. However, the impressive van Aert was now 21 seconds ahead of van der Poel and a massive 46 seconds ahead of Pauwels.

 

Pauwels now dropped the hammer and while Nys led the chase, the Sunweb rider increased his advantage and started to get closer to a fading van der Poel. As opposed to this, van Aert showed no signs of slowing down and was constantly increasing his advantage.

 

Nys made an unusual mistake in the sand which allowed Meeusen and Vantornout to get clear. At the passage of the line, they were 15 seconds ahead of the main group where Nys had drifted to the rear end and appeared to be saving energy for tomorrow.

 

At the start of the penultimate lap, van Aert was 36 seconds of van der Poel whose second place was now under threat. Pauwels had reduced his deficit to just 7 seconds while Vantornout and Meeusen were 16 seconds further adrift.

 

Pauwels quickly caught van der Poel and he immediately left the fading Dutchman behind. He was now even gaining ground on van Aert and at the start of the final lap, he had reduced his deficit to 43 seconds.

 

At this point, van der Poel was exactly a minute behind while Vantornout and Meesuen were at 1.13. Peeters, Joeri Adams, van Kessel and Bert Wellens were next while Nys had fallen far back and was now only riding in 13th position.

 

In the final lap, van Aert only had to avoid making any mistakes and he did so in the most beautiful way. The same cannot be said for Pauwels who stumbled in a sand section but as he was now far ahead of van der Poel, it didn’t have any major consequences.

 

Meeusen and Vantornout were caught by their chasers to form a big group halfway through the lap. They were getting close to van der Poel who fought desperately to defend his podium spot.

 

In the final part of the race, van Aert had plenty of time to celebrate his win and he showed his fist to the spectators as he approached the finish. At the same time, he was increasing his advantage over Pauwels who was now 46 seconds behind.

 

Entering the finishing straight, van Aert sat up to celebrate the biggest win of his career, having put in a dominant performance to crush the opposition. Pauwels crossed the line 42 seconds later while van der Poel held off his chasers to take the final spot on the podium, with Meeusen beating Vantornout and Adams in the sprint for fourth.

 

Result:

1. Wout van Aert

2. Kevin Pauwels +0.42

3. Mathieu van der Poel +0.53

4. Tom Meeusen +0.56

5. Klaas Vantornout +0.57

6. Jens Adams +0.59

7. Corne van Kessel +1.06

8. Philipp Walsleben +1.08

9. Kevin Peeters +1.11

10. Bart Wellens +1.15

 

Overall standings:

1. Kevin Pauwels 140

2. Tom Meeusen 115

3. Klaas Vantornout 115

4. Corne van Kessel 113

5. Jens Adama95 a

6. Philip Walsleben 94

7. Bart Wellens 81

8. Wout van Aert 80

9. Lars van der Haar 80

10. Thijs van Amerongen 80

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