Kevin Pauwels gets the kisses again with his World Cup win. (Loenhout file photo) © Bart Hazen

Kevin Pauwels gets the kisses again with his World Cup win in Pont-Chateau. (Loenhout file photo) © Bart Hazen

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 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.

Powers takes Holeshot:

Full Results:

1Kevin PAUWELSBEL271:01:46200200
2Niels ALBERTBEL251:01:49160160
3Sven NYSBEL351:02:26140140
4Steve CHAINELFRA281:02:27120120
5Bart AERNOUTSBEL291:02:28110110
6Rob PEETERSBEL261:02:33100100
7Philipp WALSLEBENGER241:02:369090
8John GADRETFRA321:02:388080
9Nicolas BAZINFRA281:02:397070
10Enrico FRANZOIITA291:02:416060
11Dieter VANTHOURENHOUTBEL261:02:435858
12Timothy JOHNSONUSA341:02:445656
13Klaas VANTORNOUTBEL291:02:585454
14Francis MOUREYFRA311:03:035252
15Ian FIELDGBR251:03:085050
16Mariusz GILPOL281:03:094848
17Christoph PFINGSTENGER241:03:154646
18Egoitz MURGOITIO REKALDEESP281:03:184444
19Jeremy POWERSUSA281:03:264242
20Gerben DE KNEGTNED361:03:294040
21Marcel WILDHABERSUI261:03:303939
22Vladimir KYZIVATCZE291:03:313838
23Florian LE CORREFRA261:03:323737
24Petr DLASKCZE351:03:373636
26Thijs VAN AMERONGENNED251:03:533434
27Isaac SUAREZ FERNANDEZESP321:03:593333
28James DRISCOLLUSA251:04:003232
29Thijs ALNED311:04:173131
30Ludovic RENARDFRA271:04:183030
31Johannes SICKMUELLERGER291:04:592929
32Christian HEULESUI361:05:152828
33Marco BIANCOITA291:05:232727
34Martin ZLAMALIKCZE291:05:242626
35Ondrej BAMBULACZE241:05:302525
36Eddy VAN IJZENDOORNNED261:05:372424
37Derrick ST JOHNCAN341:05:392323
38Patrick VAN LEEUWENNED261:05:402222
39Marco Aurelio FONTANAITA271:05:522121
40Julien PIONFRA251:06:222020