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Pauwels beats van Aert in exciting duel in Hasselt

Having been joined by van Aert for most of the race, Pauwels dropped the youngster on the final lap to win the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Hasselt; Nys finished fourth to defend his overall lead

CYCLO-CROSS

NEWS

KEVIN PAUWELS

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOM MEEUSEN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

WOUT VAN AERT

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
06.12.2014 @ 16:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb) confirmed his excellent condition when he won the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Hasselt after an exciting duel with Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice). After the pair had been riding together in the lead for most of the race, Pauwels managed to drop his companion in the final lap while Sven Nys (Crelan) bounced back from his recent woes to finish fourth and defend his overall lead.

 

In recent weeks, Kevin Pauwels and Wout van Aert have proved that they are currently the strongest cyclo-cross riders but the pair have not had the chance to go head to head in a big battle yet. Today the pair finally faced each other in an intense duel when they lined up for the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Hasselt.

 

The pair already showed their class early in the race when the Telenet-Fidea duo of Tom Meeusen and Corne van Kessel had made a brave attack at the end of the first lap to get an advantage. Under the impetus of van Aert, they bridged the gap and at the end of the second lap, a four-rider front group had formed.

 

Van Kessel managed to escape again and as Meeusen slowed down, he quickly got a big gap. However, van Aert was quickly back on the front and while Meeusen fell off, the pair managed to rejoin the lone leader.

 

Unsurprisingly, van Kessel was unable to keep up with his companions and from there it was a battle between the two strongest riders. They took turns setting the pace but very soon it was apparent that Pauwels had an extra gear.

 

The Sunweb rider repeatedly dropped his companion and at one point, he seemed to have made the difference for good. However, van Aert showed his impressive fighting spirit and as they started the penultimate lap, he was back in contention.

 

The youngster set the pace for most of the lap while Pauwels took the opportunity to recover before launching his decisive attack at the start of the final lap. Again van Aert lost contact and even though he fought all the way to the finish, there was no coming back for the talented Belgian. After his wins in the two most recent editions of the series, he had to settle for second behind the in-form Pauwels.

 

For overall leader Sven Nys, the race marked a return to form after his recent struggles. After his usual slow start, he took responsibility for the chase and gradually whittled down the main group until only Meeusen was still with him. The pair did their best to reduce their deficit to the leaders but they never really got close to getting back in contention. As the overall Bpost Bank Trofee standings are based on time, Nys rode hard all the way to the finish, opening the door for Meeusen to easily sprint ahead of him to take the final spot.

 

Nys reduced his time loss to 31 seconds and so he defended his overall lead. However, he is now only 1.07 ahead of Pauwels while van Aert is third at 1.31.

 

The next race in the series takes place on December 20 in Essen. Most of the best riders are back in action tomorrow in the race in Overijse which is not part of any of the major race series.

 

How it unfolded:

Corne van Kessel got the race off to the fastest start despite not having a front row start and he led the peloton in the early part of the first lap. With Lars van der Haar glued to his wheel, he strung out the peloton while gaps started to appear further back.

 

At the end of the first lap, van der Haar took over and he, van Kessel and Tom Meeusen got a small gap. As the Dutch champion slowed down due to a puncture, the Telenet-Fidea pair accelerated and they started to ride away from the chase group which had been whittled down to less than 10 riders and in which Sven Nys was struggling at the back.

 

With van Kessel as the driving force, the Telenet riders tried to extend their advantage but now Wout van Aert had sensed the danger. With Kevin Pauwels on his wheel, the Belgian bridged the gap to form a front quartet while van der Haar’s puncture had seen the Dutch champion lose contact with the chasers.

 

Van Kessel was riding extremely well and as he hopped the barriers, no one was able to follow him. The Belgian managed to create an advantage over his three chasers and won the intermediate sprint over Meeusen and Pauwels in the process, scoring 15 bonus seconds for the overall standings.

 

Van Kessel increased the gap while his teammate Meeusen set the pace in the chase group before Pauwles took over. At the passage of the finish line, the gap was around 5 seconds while the main group with Philipp Walsleben, Nys, Bart Aernouts, Sven Vanthourenhout, Gianni Vermeersch and Jim Aernouts followed just a few second further adrift. Van der Haar was back up to speed after his puncture and fighting hard to rejoin the main group.

 

Just as the peloton was about to catch the three chasers, van Aert made a big acceleration and as they went through the sand, Meeusen lost contact. As Jim Aernouts and Walsleben tangled, the group lost a bit of momentum, and the van Aert and Pauwels quickly reopened their advantage significantly.

 

Disaster struck for van Kessel when he hit the deck as he tried to hop the barriers but he was back on his bike in time to latch onto the back of van Aert and Pauwels. Meeusen was still in lone pursuit of the front trio while van der Haar had rejoined the main group.

 

Van Kessel was unable to keep up with the leaders as Pauwels had now hit the front and at the end of the lap, the leading pair were 4 seconds ahead of the Dutchman. A bit further back, the main group had splintered under the impetus of Nys, with the Belgian champion and Vanthourenhout having bridged the gap to the fading Meeusen, 11 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Pauwels continued to apply the pressure in the next lap and van Aert seemed to be struggling as he tried to hang onto his compatriot. Meanwhile, Nys was indicating that he was returning to form and while Meeusen and Vanthourenhout dug deep to stay in contact, he managed to bridge the gap to van Kessel.

 

Pauwels briefly managed to distance van Aert but when they crossed the finish line, the leading pair were back together. At this point, Nys, Vanthourenhout, van Kessel and Meeusen were still 11 seconds behind while Walsleben was next at 22 seconds

 

Van Aert hit the front as they started the next lap and by leading for the entire lap, he showed that he was not at his limit yet. Meanwhile, Vanthourenhout was clearly suffering and he finally had to let the chasers go.

 

At the next passage of the line, the front duo were 12 seconds ahead of the chase group which was down to just Nys and Meeusen after van Kessel had been dropped. Now Pauwels again hit the front as the leaders took turns setting the pace.

 

Pauwels again showed that he was the strongest rider as van Aert was no longer able to keep up with him. However, the youngster showed his great fighting spirit and as they approached the finish, he had again latched onto Pauwels’ back wheel.

 

AS they hit the paved stretch, van Aert had again lost a bit of ground and at the passage of the line, he was 1 second behind. Meanwhile, Meeusen and Nys were sharing the pace-setting well and had reduced their deficit to 11 seconds while van Kessel was more than 30 seconds behind.

 

Pauwels was now making a huge difference and he was constantly increasing his advantage over van Aert who was clearly suffering. Meanwhile, Meeusen seemed to have recovered well from his earlier woes and now Nys was having trouble hanging onto the Telenet-Fidea captain.

 

At the end of the seventh lap, Pauwels had increased his advantage over van Aert to 4 seconds while Meeusen had now dropped Nys. However, they were both losing ground, crossing the line with a deficit of 18 and 21 seconds respectively.

 

Nys showed his great technical skills by rejoining Meeusen in the sand section. Meanwhile, van Aert had not given up yet and suddenly he started to get back in contention. Halfway through the lap, he had bridged the gap to Pauwels.

 

As they started the penultimate lap, van Aert had even hit the front, showing Pauwels that he was still ot fatigued. At this point, it was clear that the first two positions had been decided as Nys and Meeusen were 20 seconds behind while van Kessel and Vanthourenhout were at 55 seconds.

 

While Nys was back on the front of the chase group, van Aert and Pauwels took turns setting the pace in the front group but the main work was done by the youngster. However, Pauwels agin took over as they started the final lap at which time Meeusen and Nys had reduced the deficit to just 14 seconds.

 

The Sunweb leader again upped the pace and again van Aert was suffering. In the early part of the lap, he lost ground and as Pauwels was riding full gas, the gap got bigger and bigger.

 

Pauwels made sure not to make any mistakes in the final, technical part of the circuit and as he hit the paved area, he had plenty of time to celebrate his win. Van Aert rolled across the line 3 seconds later. Nys went full gas to minimize his time loss in the overall standings and so Meeusen had no trouble taking the final spot on the podium. Van der Haar had made an excellent comeback to finish the race in fifth.

 

1. Kevin Pauwels 1.04.11

2. Wout van Aert +0.03

3. Tom Meeusen +0.30

4. Sven Nys +0.31

5. Lars van der Haar +1.04

6. Corne van Kessel+1.30

7. Sven Vanthourenhout +1.31

8. Julien Taramarcaz +1.53

9. Jim Aernouts +1.53

10. Bart Wellens +1.57

 

Overall standings:

  1. 1. Sven Nys 4.07.42
  2. 2. Kevin Pauwels +1.07
  3. 3. Wout van Aert +1.31
  4. 4. Tom Meeusen +2.37
  5. 5. Lars van der Haar +3.18
  6. 6. Klaas Vantornout +6.39
  7. 7. Sven Vanthourenhout +7.21
  8. 8. Jim Aernouts +8.22
  9. 9. Bart Aernouts +8.27
  10. 10. Julien Taramarcaz +8.35

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