Tom Meeusen sprints to his first win of the season in Lille Krawatencross
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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tom Meeusen sprints to his first win of the season in Lille Krawatencross

by Ben Atkins at 10:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Kevin Pauwels makes GvA Trofee lead more secure but title to go down to the wire

tom meeusenThe Krawatencross, Lille, finished in a sprint for the second straight year, as Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) finally took his first victory of the season. The 23-year-old opened up his sprint from a long way out, after winning a battle with Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) for the front of a big group in the final wooded section of the final lap; he managed to hold off the attentions of Czech champion Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) to take the win by half a length.

The sudden Arctic weather that has swept across Europe from the east meant that the sandy course of the penultimate round of the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee in Lille, just outside Antwerp, Belgium, was to be the first snowy race of the season.

Last year’s winner Pauwels held a healthy lead in the overall GvA Trofee classification at the start of the day; it was mathematically possible for him to be overtaken by Štybar or Sven Nys, but it would take a total disaster in this race – and in Oostmalle two weeks later – for the 27-year-old for this to happen and he would likely wrap up the series at the end of the race.

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) was the first away as usual, but was beaten to the first grass section by Dieter Vanthourenhout and Radomir Simunek (both BKCP-Powerplus). A slip on a corner from Vantornout brought the rest of the field to a sudden halt, allowing the two BKCP-Powerplus riders to get away; then a bike change from Simunek saw Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet) chase across to him, then leapfrog across to his cousin Dieter.

Disaster struck for the Landbouwkrediet rider though, as he too was to slip off on a corner, leaving Dieter and Simunek clear once again. The chase was led by Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) and Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant), with all of the favourites strung out behind them.

Into the second lap Sven Vanthourenhout took over the chase, with team captain Nys tucked in a few riders back. Štybar was making his way through the line of riders though, and, once he reached the front, began to up the pace in pursuit of the two leaders.

Before long, the pace set by the Czech champion – wearing the white red and blue jersey for the first time in two years – pulled Sven Vanthourenhout, Nys, Pauwels and Sunweb-Revor teammate Jim Aernouts, Meeusen and Bart Aernouts clear of the rest; they were gaining on the BKCP-Powerplus rabbits ahead of them as the third lap began.

Meeusen managed to fight his way up to the chasing group, as Sven Vanthourenhout pulled Jim Aernouts across to the leaders. Meanwhile, Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) – resplendent in the rainbow stripes that he took for a second time the previous week – had fought his way through the traffic behind, and was trying to chase across the widening gap.

Albert made it across in the first half of lap four, as a long pull from Štybar brought the two groups together again. On the World champion’s wheel were Vantornout, recovered from his early spill, and Francis Mourey (FDJ-BigMat), but the gap to the next group was not very wide; Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) and Gerben de Knegt (Rabobank-Giant) were the next riders to swell the main group from behind.

First Jim Aernouts, then Sven Vanthourenhout, then Meeusen managed to string out the group and create small gaps in the line. Into lap six though, a big push from the latter saw him and Sven Vanthourenhout break clear, with Jim Aernouts and Štybar in pursuit.

The Czech champion had almost managed to join the two fugitives by the end of the lap, which marked four to go, and Nys was leading the chasers not far behind. As they left the finishing straight and took to the fields though, Pauwels showed himself for the first time and took over the chase; his pace pulled Nys clear, with Albert fighting to stay with them.

A slip from Štybar saw Pauwels pass him to take third position on the course, as the Czech dropped back to Nys; Albert was a little further back with Mourey tucked in behind him, but fought his way up as the lead group began to come together with three to go.

Nys, in second wheel, then allowed a gap to open behind teammate Sven Vanthourenhout, daring the others to come by him and chase. Nobody did though, and the Landbouwkrediet rider found himself alone in the lead again; across the line with two to go he was seven seconds ahead of the group, with Albert finally having come to the front.

Albert’s pace closed the gap a little but, as he eased up a little, Nys came through to block once more. Vanthourenhout’s traction control let him down again though and, as he entered the wooded section, he came down on a switchback, allowing Albert to pull him back without any trouble.

As the leaders took the bell, Albert pulled on to the front; Nys was right on his wheel though, with Meeusen battling to come around, and the rest of the favourites were strung out behind them.

The World champion calmly led the long string of riders around the first half of the final lap, until Štybar and Meeusen muscled their way past as they reached the trees. Nys and Pauwel also came past and, as Štybar upped the pace, the four of them began to gradually leave the rest behind.

Nys and Meeusen battled to get past Štybar in the wooded switchbacks, with the younger rider finally getting the upper hand and leading into the finishing straight. The Telenet-Fidea rider opened up his sprint almost as soon as they had rounded the final corner and, although Štybar managed to pull alongside, nobody could come past.

Pauwels’ third place was not quite enough to make the GvA Trofee certain, and it will come down to the Sluitinsprijs, the final race of the season, in Oostmalle to decide the winner.

Vos wins again as women’s podium matches World championships

The women’s race took on an all too familiar appearance, as Marianne Vos (Stichting Rabo) took win number seventeen of her incredible season. The newly re-crowned World champion escaped early in the race with compatriot, and European champion, Daphny van den Brand (AA Drink-Leontien.nl), before dropping her and riding away to finish alone.

Behind the two Dutchwomen, last year’s winner, Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Boxx) left the rest of the field behind on her local course, to complete an identical podium to the previous weekend’s World championship race. Sanne van Paassen (Brainwash), apparently recovered from the illness that saw her sit out most of January, matched her Worlds fourth, with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) taking fifth.

Result Krawatencross Lille Elite women
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Stichting Rabo Women Team
2. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
3. Sanne Cant (Boxx veldritacademie)
4. Sanne van Paassen (Ned) Brainwash Wielerploeg
5. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
6. Arenda Grimberg (Ned)
7. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
8. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Telenet-Fidea
9. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Brainwash Wielerploeg
10. Sophie de Boer (Ned) Telenet-Fidea

Result Krawatencross Lille Elite men
1. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
2. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
4. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
5. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
6. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
7. Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
9. Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
10. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-BigMat

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