Kevin Pauwels took the highest stage finish of any ’crosser, with a ninth place on stage 3. © Bart Hazen

by Robbie Carver

Wrapping up our coverage of the five day Tour of Belgium, Sven Nys showed his class by coming out on top among the cyclocrossers. Nys finished in 22nd place, 3:11 down from Quick Step’s overall winner Stijn Devolder and twenty-five seconds ahead of 23rd placed (and Italian national cyclocross champion) Enrico Franzoi.

Kevin Pauwels emerged from the pack with a ninth place finish in the bunch sprint in Stage 3, while many of our winter favorites, including Niels Albert, Radomir Simunek and Kevin Eeckhout were busy picking themselves up off the deck in a massive pileup. The trio emerged scraped up and in need of new kits, but without serious injury and would each start the time trial the following day. Because the crash happened in the final 3km, they were granted same time as the peloton on the stage.

It was young gun Albert had the highest placed Stage 4 time trial, finishing the 16.7km course in 22:15, just over a minute down from winner Dominigue Cornu (Skil – Shimano). Sven Vanthournhout lost over a minute to Nys, effectively ending the close placement the two had shared in the previous three stages.

The steep, aggressive 173km final stage claimed a number of victims, with Arnoud Jouffroy, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Bart Wellens and Rob Peters all dropping out during the race. Of Telenet – Fidea’s six man ’cross squad, only Tom Meeusen and Kevin Pauwels crossed the finish line.

Final Crossers’ Standings:

22nd Sven Nys

23rd Enrico Franzoi

43rd Niels Albert

53rd Kevin Pauwels

67th Sven Vanthourenhout

69th Tom Meeusen