Kevin Pauwels limits his Loenhout losses to hold GvA lead
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kevin Pauwels limits his Loenhout losses to hold GvA lead

by Ben Atkins at 4:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 
Sunweb-Revor rider calmly recovers from first lap disaster to take sixth in Azencross

kevin pauwelsKevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) began today’s Azencross in Loenhout, just outside Antwerp, Belgium, with a 22-point lead in the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee over second placed Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step). With the form that he has shown all season – particularly having won the first three rounds of the series – the 27-year-old is odds on to take the ‘trofee’ for the first time in his career.

An incident in the first lap – where crashing riders forced him to come off – suddenly put Pauwels at the back of the field though, forcing him to rethink his strategy from that of chasing the victory to damage limitation.

“I got into the first muddy section a little behind and then another rider swerved in front of me and I touched his back wheel,” Pauwels explained afterwards. “I crashed and then I was one of the last riders in the race.”

Suddenly finding himself almost last in the 56-strong field meant that victory was all but beyond Pauwels. With World champion Stybar off the front of the race though, along with Dutch champion Lars Boom (Rabobank), he was potentially about to lose his lead in the GvA Trofee.

With 25 points on the line for the victory – as well as a possible three for the intermediate sprint at the end of lap two – Stybar was poised to take the lead away; Pauwels had to do something.

“You can either panic or you can stay calm and gradually try and move forward again,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, especially as there was a strong headwind in the finishing straight, but I think I’ve managed to limit the damage quite well.”

In the end, Pauwels managed to fight his way back up to sixth in the race – netting himself 15 points – and, with Stybar taking second – and 22 points – the damage was limited. Stybar had taken the second lap sprint though, meaning that he took a total of ten points out of Pauwels’ lead.

With the margin still standing at 12 points with three laps to go though, the Sunweb-Revor rider still looks well placed for overall victory.

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