At the seventh round of the World Cup in Pont-Chateau, France, Jeremy Powers excited US fans by taking the holeshot ahead of European power-houses Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), and Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea). “That 1st lap today was for you guys,” Powers tweeted, “I took on some water after that, bailed it out and soldiered on for a top 20.”
As Powers drifted back to seal a 19th place, Timothy Johnson recovered from some early crashes to take 12th, after spending some time in the top five. “Well, that wasn’t so bad” Johnson said, “a couple of crashes in the beginning, getting dizzy with so many laps!” Jamey Driscoll, rounding out the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com crew, nabbed 28th.
At the sharp end of the race, current World Cup leader Albert made his bid on the third lap, setting a hard pace that immediately gapped the rest of the riders. Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) did his best to catch the 2009 World Champion, but it was a hard charging Pauwels who ultimately bridged up, trailing Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Steve Chainel (FDJ) behind him. The pace was too much for the other three riders, however, and Pauwels and Albert quickly turned the race into a two-man affair. By lap six, the pair had a 40 second gap.
Behind them, riders took advantage of the dry, open course to form groups and employ drafting.
The two leaders were pushing hard, side-by side, coming into the last corner, but Pauwel’s inside line gave him enough of a lead as the rounded the finishing straight that Albert conceded, allowing Pauwels to raise his hands as he crossed the line. This is Pauwels second World Cup win, with Zolder 2009 being his first. Pont-Chateau is also the same course that Pauwels secured his 2004 U23 World Championships on.
The large chase group behind had fractured after a crash by Italian champion Marco Aurelio Fontana brought a number of riders – including French champion Francis Mourey – to the ground, and Sven Nys led out a four-man sprint for the line, taking third ahead of Steve Chainel, Bart Aernouts, and Rob Peeters. Johnson, who avoided the crash, came in 12th, 58 seconds down.
Albert appears to be secure in his World Cup standings, with 490 points. Pauwels is holding second at 429 points, with Nys a close third with 419. However, with 80 points going to the winner next week at Hoogherheide, the leaderboard still may change.
Noticeably absent was World Champion Zdenek Stybar, who is training in Mallorca, Spain, as he builds up to defend his title at St. Wendel.