Kevin Pauwels uses teamwork to take Hoogerheide World Cup
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kevin Pauwels uses teamwork to take Hoogerheide World Cup

by Ben Atkins at 10:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Sunweb-Revor team bosses Dutch race as Pauwels takes emphatic overall victory

kevin pauwelsKevin Pauwels profited from the numerical superiority of his Sunweb-Revor team in the closing stages of the World Cup race in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. The 27-year-old, dressed in the World Cup leader’s jersey, finally managed to escape after yet another burst of speed in the final lap of the race, making use of the spoiling presence of teammate Klaas Vantornout to foil the challenge of World champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Stybar managed to fight his way clear of Vantornout, and continue to take second place – a reversal of the previous week’s race in Liévin, France – but it was too late to catch the lone leader; while Vantornout managed to hold on to take third.

Pauwels’ only real rival in the World Cup standings was six-time series winner Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet); with the Kannibaal languishing back in sixth though, Pauwels takes an emphatic victory in the season-long competition.

Reactions to follow.

The cream comes to the top right from the gun

As usual it was Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) that sprinted away from the line, but Nys took the first corner first. A small error from the Belgian champion as they hit the grass though, saw Francis Mourey (FDJ-BigMat) take the lead.

A crash on the first corner took down Bart Aernouts and De Knegt (both Rabobank-Giant) and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike). The American was away fairly quickly, but the two Rabobank-Giant riders took some time to get up and faced what was to be little more than an hour-long training ride; with the hope that their crash would not affect their World championship race the following week.

Mourey continued to lead through the middle of the first lap, with Vantornout, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Swisspower), Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor), Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Steve Chainel (FDJ-BigMat) strung out behind him. Stybar was leading a small group across, not far behind; in the wooded section of the second lap though, Vantornout dragged Meeusen and Mourey clear, with Pauwels struggling to lead the rest across.

With Pauwels not seeming to be busting a gut to pull the field across to teammate Vantornout – especially with World Cup rival Nys on his wheel – Albert muscled his way forward and began to close the gap himself.

At the end of lap two the three leaders were just seven seconds clear of Albert, Nys and Pauwels, with the rest of the main group a few seconds further back. Having missed all of the moves so far, Stybar recognised that this was likely to be the decisive one, and so the World champion quickly fought his way across to the three chasers.

A tactical battle ensues with the lead group growing in numbers

Before Stybar cold reach the back wheel of Nys however, Albert had left them behind and was on his way up to the three leaders. With Nys and Pauwels marking one another, Stybar went straight through to the front and began to pull the chasers up to the lead.

As Albert caught the front group, Vantornout attacked off the front; the former World champion – who took his rainbow jersey on this very course – was not about to let him get away though, and led the pursuit. As they hit the closing stages of the lap, Albert managed to bridge across to Vantornout; while, behind him, Nys pulled Pauwels up to the lead group, with Stybar joining as they crossed the line.

Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus), Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet), and Chainel were the next riders on the course, some 15 seconds back, but the race already looked to be down to the seven men in the lead group.

Pressure again from Vantornout, as well as a slight slip in the group behind, saw the lanky Sunweb-Revor rider pull Albert and Meeusen clear. Not panicking though, Nys – with Pauwels glued to his back wheel – steadily closed the gap once more, and the group was back up to seven again.

By the end of the lap Simunek and Vanthourenhout were only a few seconds back and, as the lap began, the lead group was up to nine. This was evidently too many for Vantornout though, who accelerated almost immediately and took Meeusen with him.

Pauwels takes control as Nys stumbles

Pauwels was leading the chasers, with Nys on his wheel this time; with the World Cup leader apparently reluctant to chase too hard though, Stybar fought his way past and took it upon himself to close the gap. A slight slip from Nys in the midfield mud saw a gap open, and Stybar pulled Pauwels up to the lead group.

Albert fought across to the group in the early corners of the lap, with Nys fighting just behind; Vanthourenhout wasn’t giving up either, anxious to stake his claim for Aernouts’ place in the following week’s World championships, should the Rabobank rider be injured by his fall.

With Nys just off the back of the lead group, Pauwels took the front and began to pile one the pressure, dropping Albert slightly and not allowing the Belgian champion to make contact. Stybar, Vantornout and Meeusen were also having trouble holding the World Cup leader’s wheel, and he managed to pull himself three seconds clear as he crossed the line with three laps to go.

Stybar was not keen on letting Pauwels go, and clawed his way across as they hit the woods; Vantornout was right behind him; there was no sign of Meeusen at the front of the race, who had now dropped back behind Albert, and could now feel Nys’ hot breath on his collar.

As Nys caught up with Meeusen, they were joined by Vanthourenhout and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea), the winner of the previous day’s Kasteelcross in Zonnebeke. Simunek too managed to join the back of the line, which was strung out behind Nys; the Belgian champion did not seem to be putting everything into the chase however.

Albert was still six seconds behind the three leaders as they crossed the line with two to go. Pauwels managed to force an error from Stybar as they hit the fields, but the group was together again as they hit the woods.

Nys' group was now almost 30 seconds back; the Kannibaal seemed to have uncharacteristically given the race – and the overall World Cup – up for lost.

Sunweb-Revor begins to make its numbers count

Pauwels attacked into the woods again and Vantornout allowed the gap to open; Albert was just about to join as Stybar accelerated around to chase up to the leader, and once again he was denied. Stybar caught Pauwels quickly, but Vantornout took longer to close; Albert was dropped, while, behind them, Peeters was breaking away from the Nys group.

Yet another acceleration from Pauwels saw Stybar trapped behind Vantornout, and the World Cup leader was away this time. He was a few seconds clear as he took the bell and, as he kept the pressure on, the gap continued to open. With Vantornout defending his captain, it was Stybar that had to do the chasing, and he was no match for Pauwels over the fast, sticky surface.

Finally, Stybar managed to shake what must have been the irritating presence of Vantornout, and began to inch across the gap to Pauwels. It all looked to be too late though, with several seconds to make up in less than half a lap, but the feisty acceleration of the World champion began to make headway on the metronomic pace of the World Cup leader.

It was not enough though, as Pauwels entered the finishing straight, sitting up to take the victory eight seconds clear. Vantornout crossed the line six seconds later to take the final place in the podium, with Albert just holding off Peeters, Nys and Meeusen almost half a minute later.

Stybar and Nys both had a mathematical opportunity to take the leader’s jersey from Pauwels at the start of the day, although Nys was the only one with a realistic chance. With his fourth victory of the series though, with Nys back in sixth, takes his first ever victory in the season-long competition by an emphatic margin.

Result Hoogerheide World Cup Elite Men
1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
4. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
5. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
7. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
8. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
9. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
10. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-BigMat

Final World Cup Standings
1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 590
2. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 540
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 525
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 450
5. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 373


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