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Kevin Pauwels dominates 2nd round of UCI cyclocross World Cup in Tabor

Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) dominated the second round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup on Sunday in Tabor, Czech Republic.

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Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) dominated the second round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup on Sunday in Tabor, Czech Republic.

Pauwels escaped a strong seven-man lead group with six laps to race and built an astounding lead over a chase group that included the likes of world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step), World Cup leader Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

Stybar and Albert weren’t getting any help from their comrades in the chase, with Pauwels’ teammate Klaas Vantornout sitting second wheel behind whoever was pushing the pace.

When Albert finally cracked, Stybar and Vantornout got away from the others. Pauwels would not be caught — he finished more than a half-minute ahead of the two chasers, in the process taking the World Cup lead from Nys — and while Vantornout tried his best to make it a one-two finish for Sunweb, Stybar had enough left in the tank to take second spot on the podium.

Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was the top American in 15th at 1:24, followed by Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), 17th at 1:56; Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale), 36th at 3:27; and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), 43rd at 4:05.

Pauwels, Stybar show early strength

The first lap saw Pauwels and Stybar take a slight gap over Nys and Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant). Stybar assumed the lead going into the short staircase run-up. Then Nys attacked after the barriers, slipping around Stybar’s left side as the world champion glanced over his right shoulder at Pauwels.

Vantornout and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) latched on, followed by Francis Mourey (FdJ), and going through the start-finish a seven-man lead group had formed with seven laps to go.

Headed into the barriers Stybar and the two Sunwebs had taken a small lead on the others, with Nys driving the chase. Then Stybar hit the pits for a fresh bike, Pauwels laid down a strong attack and took a lead of several seconds over the others headed into six to go.

“That was my big chance,” said Pauwels, who conceded that he had not intended to make his move so early in the race.

Behind, Stybar led the pursuit, which had been augmented by Albert and teammate Radomir Simunek.

Pauwels powers away

Pauwels had perhaps five seconds at the barriers. Stybar was really driving, fighting to close the gap, with Vantornout on his wheel. Then the world champ seemed to dial it down a notch, and as Pauwels got five to go he had a lead of eight seconds over the chasing duo with Mourey leading a second chase at 15 seconds.

Pauwels had added four seconds to his lead at the stairs as Albert led the second group up to Stybar and Vantornout. He had three more at the barriers, as the two chases fused into one.

Albert was next to lead the pursuit, followed by Vantornout and Stybar. But it was looking very much like a race for second place. With four laps remaining Pauwels had 24 seconds and wasn’t slowing down.

At the stairs Albert seemed baffled at the state of affairs, looking around in disbelief. And no wonder — Pauwels had extended his advantage to more than a half-minute.

The Belgian champ accelerated on the backside of the course, trying to shed the others, but it wasn’t happening. Stybar was next to come forward, but the chase was gaining no ground. Three laps to go and Pauwels wasn’t even in sight — the chasers were 39 seconds down.

No help for the world champ

Stybar waved one arm as they passed through the start-finish, urging the others to work. Albert once again took the lead, but everyone else declined Stybar’s offer.

Finally Simunek lent a hand, dogged by the ever-vigilant Vantornout, followed by Stybar, Albert and the others. But they were getting exactly nowhere. With two laps remaining Pauwels was 59 seconds ahead.

Simunek’s acceleration finally split the chase group. He, Vantornout and Stybar put some daylight between themselves and the others, and then Stybar took the front and drilled it, table-topping over one small hill for style points.

Simunek lost contact at the stairs as Stybar kept the pressure on, but Vantornout was glued to his wheel. The acceleration clipped 10 seconds off Pauwels’ lead, but he had plenty of seconds to spare.

Bell lap: Pauwels was up by 49 seconds, and his teammate was sitting second with Stybar on his wheel. The remainder of the chase was more than a minute behind.

The final go-round was a parade lap for Pauwels, who hit the line in 1:02:58. Stybar finally shed Vantornout to take second at 32 seconds with Vantornout third three seconds later. Mourey took fourth at 40 seconds with Nys fifth at 41 seconds.

Quick results

  • 1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel), Sunweb-Revor, 1:02:58
  • 2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze), Quick Step, 1:03:30
  • 3. Klaas Vantornout (Bel), Sunweb-Revor, 1:03:33
  • 4. Francis Mourey (Fra), FdJ, 1:03:38
  • 5. Sven Nys (Bel), Landbouwkrediet, 1:03:39

Complete results