Cyclocross World Cup: Kevin Pauwels wins an off road criterium in Rome
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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Cyclocross World Cup: Kevin Pauwels wins an off road criterium in Rome

by Ben Atkins at 10:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
A bad day for Sven Nys sees Niels Albert take control of overall World Cup

kevin pauwelsKevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won a largely uneventful race to take the seventh round of the cyclocross World Cup in Rome, Italy, after breaking away with teammate Klaas Vantornout close to the finish. The two Sunweb-Napoleon Games riders escaped a group of four riders that managed to work clear on the fast, dry course at the end of the second of ten laps. Between them, they managed to pull out a small, but decisive lead over World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Frenchman Francis Mourey (FDJ), who were soon joined by Italian champion Marco Fontana (Cannondale).

Pauwels dropped Vantornout in the final lap, and rode clear to take his third World Cup race of the season; Vantornout dropped his chain in the closing few hundred metres, however, and, as he struggled to replace it, was overtaken by the other three.

Albert took a simple second place, while Fontana took his first ever World Cup podium; pointing to the sky to dedicate his result to fellow mountainbiker Burry Stander, who was tragically killed on the roads of his native South Africa days before.

Mourey was fourth, with a devastated Vantornout fifth.

World Cup leader Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) struggled in the fast conditions, having suffered with bronchitis during the week before, and could only manage 20th. Albert took over the series lead from the Belgian champion, with only the final race in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, to come.

The field strings out on the grassy circuit but Sunweb-Revor works to split things up

Conditions in the Italian capital couldn’t have been more different from those that the majority of the riders will have gotten used to in the recent, muddy races in Belgium and the Netherlands. Virtually no rain in the area meant that the course, around the infield of Rome’s horse racing course, meant no mud whatsoever, and much of the course was still coated with a thick covering of grass.

Riders were required to dismount in only one spot, as the course crossed a shallow ditch and crossed two plank hurdles, while the main obstacles on the course were to consist of its many winding corners. Mild, springlike conditions saw most riders take the course in short-sleeved skinsuits, and virtually no bike changes were required.

Pauwels hit the first corner first, but was quickly passed by van der Haar, who led the race out onto the race course. Mourey squeezed past, with Vantornout on his wheel, and began to string the course out on the approach to the hurdles. The two riders briefly pulled clear as they remounted a little quicker than the rest of the field, but van der Haar soon pulled the others across the small gap and, as the leaders zig-zagged around the taped off course, the entire race was strung out in one long peloton.

Vantornout took the front again as the end of the first lap approached, and led across the line in a time of 6:21.

Mourey and Vantornout shared the front of the bunch for the majority of the second lap, but neither was able to do more than string out the enormous line that was stretched out behind them. As they headed towards the finish for the second time though, Albert moved to the front, along with Pauwels, and managed to pull a few metres clear with van der Haar as the three of them crossed the line.

Despite the gap only widening to a few seconds across the line - and with Vantornout and Mourey managing to cross it early in the lap - Albert’s pace had put Nys on the back foot. The Belgian champion, wearing the blue and red trimmed white World Cup skinsuit, was returning after a week off with bronchitis, and was having trouble holding the pace.

The lead group takes shape but van der Haar crashes out of it

Suddenly, as he rounded one of the many infield corners, van der Haar crashed; Albert was right on the Dutchman’s wheel, but managed to get around him, and the rest of the lead group managed to get by. Several other riders managed to pass van der Haar as he stood up and sorted out his bike, putting the under-23 World champion back in the pack.

Approaching the finish for the third time, Pauwels managed to jump away; he crossed the line a little clear of the other three, but was back in the fold as the next lap began. Italian champion Marco Fontana (Cannondale) and Martin Bina (CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor) were the next riders, just six seconds behind, while the big group containing Nys and van der Haar was 15 seconds back.

The four riders continued to stick together in the course of the next lap, with Albert and Pauwels doing most of the leading. Behind them Fontana dropped Bina and tried to close the gap; the Italian champion was just four seconds back as he crossed the line, while Nys was now leading the group behind him at this point, but still 16 seconds behind.

Fontana soon made contact with the four leaders, latching onto the back of the line; a small problem over the hurdles saw him distanced a little, however, forcing him to try to chase back on just as Pauwels hit the front again.

At the end of lap five - which was completed in 6:08 - Fontana was nine seconds behind the four leaders again, while Nys’ group had slipped to 25 seconds.

Having sat in as his teammate did so much of the leading, Vantornout burst clear as the end of lap six approached. He was four seconds clear across the line, with Fontana another four seconds back; van der Haar was now leading the chasers, 21 seconds behind, while Nys had dropped even further back in the fractured line of riders.

Albert was now leading the chase, with Pauwels now sitting pretty behind him; Mourey was still managing to cling on to the two Belgians and, as they snaked their way around the infield, Fontana managed to rejoin.

Seeing Vantornout’s lead beginning to grow, Mourey burst to the front and began to lead the chase; Pauwels took the Frenchman’s wheel, but then moved ahead, and started to close the gap to his own teammate himself.

Pauwels joins Vantornout and solos to victory

At the end of the lap, Pauwels was four seconds behind Vantornout, with Mourey leading the others another two seconds back. Behind them van der Haar was now leading Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Swisspower), Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) and Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) some 21 seconds behind, while Nys was now back in around 20th place, and drifting further backwards.

Pauwels soon made contact with his teammate and the two Sunweb-Napoleon Games riders began to work together; Pauwels was clearly the stronger, however, continually distancing his teammate. Albert tried to jump away from Mourey and Fontana and cross the gap but, with two laps to go, the trio was still together and 12 seconds behind.

Van der Haar’s group was now at 26 seconds; Nys was being nursed around the course by Crelan-Euphony teammate Sven Vanthourenhout, some 1’18” behind; the World Cup leader was now in 21st and - with Pauwels in the lead and Albert currently in third - was losing any chance of taking the overall World Cup.

Albert himself finally managed to tear himself clear of his companions and, with Fontana the first of the chasers behind him, split up the three-man group. At the bell the World champion was 12 seconds behind Pauwels and Vantornout, however, with the other two not far behind him.

Pauwels gradually began to open up a gap over Vantornout, and steadily completed the lap to add Rome to his victories in Tabor, Czech Republic, and Namur, Belgium. It seemed that Sunweb-Napoleon Games was heading for a one-two in the race when suddenly Vantornout dropped his chain; as he struggled to replace it, he was passed by Albert, Fontana, and then Mourey, who all managed to finish ahead of him.

Nys’ poor race meant that Albert retook the World Cup lead, with only Hoogerheide to come, while Pauwels also overtook the Belgian champion and pushed him down to third.

Result Elite Men
1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
2. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Marco Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing
4. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ
5. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
6. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team
7. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
9. Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower
10. Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team

World Cup standings after seven rounds
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus 485pts
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 469
3. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony 446
4. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games 356
5. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Giant Offroad Team 341
6. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink 336
7. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus 311
8. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ 300
9. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink 283
10. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea 276

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