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In a muddy edition of the GP Sven Nys, van Aert took another hugely dominant win, distancing van der Haar and Pauwels by almost a minute; the youngster extended his lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee series

Photo: Vastgoedservice-Goldenpalace

CYCLO-CROSS

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KEVIN PAUWELS

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LARS VAN DER HAAR

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WOUT VAN AERT

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01.01.2015 @ 16:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout van Aert continued his dominance of the cyclo-cross scene when he crushed the opposition in the prestigious GP Sven Nys on New Year’s Day. The Belgian rode almost half of the race as the lone leader of the race and distanced Lars van der Haar and Kevin Pauwels completed the podium, almost a minute behind the youngster. With the win, van Aert virtually sealed the overall win in the Bpost Bank Trofee series.

 

Two days after his impressive performance at the Azencross in Loenhout, Wout van Aert again put his excellent condition on show when he took an equally dominant victory in the first race of 2015, the GP Sven Nys in Baal. On the muddy circuit in Nys’ home town, he was again in a class of his own and easily distanced all his rivals at the midpoint of the race.

 

Van Aert bided his time in the first half of the race when a 5-rider front group with the Belgian, Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Tom Meeusen and Lars van der Haar but he easily responded to the many attacks from the latter.

 

Nys had stated his intention to finish on the podium in his home race and the veteran was clearly riding better than he has done for several weeks. For the first time in a long time, the Belgian champion launched several attacks and it was one of those that van Aert used to make the difference.

 

When Nys slowed down after his second big attack that had sent both van der Haar and Pauwels out the back door, the Vastgoedservice rider made an immediate counterattack. Nys was easily distanced but Meeusen managed to hang onto his wheel for a while.

 

Just as it seemed that the race was down to an exciting duel, disaster struck for Meeusen who suffered a very untimely puncture. While van Aert distanced him, the Telenet-Fidea captain drifted backwards and when he finally got a new bike in the pit, he was no longer in the top 5.

 

From there, it was another solo show by van Aert who constantly increased his advantage. Meanwhile, Nys was now paying the prize for his attacks and it was van der Haar who rode comfortably in second position.

 

The battle for the final spot on the podium was an exciting one as Nys and Pauwels had now been joined by Pauwels’ teammate Gianni Vermeersch. Unfortunately, Nys suffered a puncture in the final lap and this spelled an end for his podium ambitions, with Pauwels easily riding away to finish 3rd. Nys had to wait a long time before getting a new bike and he had to settle for fifth behind Vermeersch.

 

With the win, van Aert extended his lead in the overall Bpost Bank Trofee standings and barring disaster, he will win the series in his first attempt. He now leads Pauwels by 6.07 while Nys is third at 7.09, and with just one race remaning, nothing seems to prevent him from taking the victory.

 

That race takes place on February 7 in Lille. Some of the best riders will be back in action tomorrow in Surhuisterveen while the next major Belgian race takes place on Sunday in Leuven

 

How it unfolded:

Lars van der Haar was off to the fastest start but when Tom Meeusen was the only rider able to jump over the first obstacles, the Belgian took the lead. He briefly got a small gap but Wout van Aert was quick to react and led the chase in the peloton.

 

Van Aert and Kevin Pauwels rejoined Meeusen halfway through the lap and the former immediately hit the front, trying to put his rivals under pressure. Nonetheless, van der Haar and Rob Peeters also regained contact and finally Sven Nys and Julien Taramarcaz also joined the front group.

 

Van der Haar was very aggressive and when van Aert relinquished the lead, he upped the pace and strung out the front group. He led the group across the line at the end of the first lap after Gianni Vermeersch had bridged the gap to make it 8 riders in the lead.

 

Van der Haar continued his fast riding in the first part of the second lap while Klaas Vantornout, Sven Vanthourenhout and Philippe Walsleben were desperately trying to get back in contention, chasing 10 seconds behind the front group. The fast pace by the Dutch champion created a split as only van Aert, Pauwels and Meeusen were able to keep up with him.

 

Van der Haar led van Aert and Meeusen across the line at the intermediate sprint while Pauwels stumbled when he ran up the stairs and lost a few metres. Meanwhile, Nys had dropped his companions and was in lone pursuit of the leaders.

 

At the end of the second lap, Pauwels had rejoined the front group and Nys was just 3 seconds behind. Vermeersch, Peeters and Taramarcaz were at 13 seconds while Walsleben was now on his own, 8 seconds further back.

 

While van der Haar continued to set the pace, Nys gradually clawed his way back to the front to make it a lead quintet. Halfway through the lap, Meeusen decided to launch his first big attack and his acceleration put both Pauwels and Nys under pressure with both losing contact with the leaders.

 

When Meeusen again stepped off the gas, Pauwels and Nys both rejoined the front group but they didn’t get much time to recover. The next to accelerate was van Aert but this time the youngster was unable to make a difference.

 

Van Aert led the front group across the line at the end of the third lap. Vermeersch and Peeters were now 15 seconds behind while Taramarcaz followed just a few seconds further back. The next big group with Walsleben, Vantornout and Vanthourenhout had already lost more than 40 seconds.

 

Having looked like he was suffering, Nys made a surprise attack on a steep climb and when the veteran accelerated, Meeusen and van der Haar had to dig deep to stay in contact. However, the latter was apparently bluffing as he went straight to the front to accelerate when Nys stopped his attack.

 

The pace went down a bit and this allowed Vermeersch to get closer to the leader. When van Aert led the riders past the finish at the halfway point, the young Sunweb rider was just 4 seconds behind while Peeters and Taramarcaz were at 17 and 24 seconds respectively. The group with Vantornout was not getting any closer and was now almost a minute behind.

 

Going up a small climb, Nys again launched a small attack but he seemed to lack his past kick. The Belgian champion was unable to make a difference but he prevented Vermeersch from closing the gap.

 

Nys was unwilling to stop his acceleration and now his companions were showing signs of fatigue. Pauwels was the first to get dropped and moments later van der Haar was also being distanced.

 

Van Aert exploited the situation to hit the front and he upped the pace even further. This was too much for Nys and as the veteran was left behind, it was down to a duel between the youngster and Meeusen.

 

Van Aert continued his acceleration all the way to the line and at the end of the fifth lap, he and Meeusen had distanced Nys, van der Haar and Pauwels by 15 seconds. Vermeersch’s progress had been halted and he was now trialing the leaders by 30 seconds.

 

Disaster struck for Meeusen who suffered a puncture and when van Aert applied the pressure in a muddy section, he had to let the youngster go. While Meeusen nearly came to a standstill, van Aert easily created a big gap.

 

Meeusen was far away from the pit and he was quickly passed by van der Haar and Nys who had dropped Pauwels. The latter also got past Meeusen who could see his podium disappear.

 

Van der Haar managed to distance Nys, Meeusen finally got a new bike. At this point, however, he had been caught by Peeters and was now only in contention for a minor top 10 result.

 

Van Aert was in a class of his own and when he started the penultimate lap, he was already a massive 32 seconds ahead of van der Haar. Nys and Pauwels were fighting for the final spot on the podium and had been distanced by 52 seconds while Vermeersch was only 6 seconds further back.

 

Pauwels tried to distance Nys but the veteran was able to respond to the acceleration. When the pair slowed down, Vermeersch made the junction, meaning that Nys was now caught in a Sunweb sandwich.

 

Meanwhile, van Aert was riding at his own pace and as he started the final lap, he had already distanced van der Haar by more than 45 seconds. The Nys trio was at 1.16 as Vermeersch was now riding on the front for his teammate Pauwels.

 

In the early part of the final lap, Pauwels launched an attack and this spelled the end for Nys’ hopes of the podium. The veteran suffered a very untimely puncture while he chased, meaning that he was also past by Vermeersch.

 

It was now every man for himself and van Aert was in cruise control. The Belgian had no reason to take any risks and as he hit the finishing straight, he had plenty of time to celebrate another dominant victory. Van der Haar rolled across the line 45 seconds later while Pauwels took third at 56 seconds. Vermeersch finished fourth while a disappointed Nys had to settle for fifth

 

Result:

1. Wout van Aert 1.06.11

2. Lars van der Haar +0.46

3. Kevin Pauwels +0.56

4. Gianni Vermeersch +1.24

5. Sven Nys 1.54

6. Rob Peeters +2.01

7. Klaas Vantornout +2.16

8. Joeri Adams +2.19

9. Tom Meeusen +2.21

10 Marcel Meisen +3.18

 

Overall standings:

1. Wout van Aert

2. Kevin Pauwels +6.07

3. Sven Nys +7.09

4. Tom Meeusen +7.34

5. Lars van der Haar +12.12

6. Rob Peeters +16.31

7. Sven Vanthourenhout + 17.08

8. Joeri Adams +17.24

9. Klaas Vantornout +18.54

10. Philipp Walsleben +19.40

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