TABOR, CZECH REPUBLIC – In the opening round of the 2012/13 Cyclocross World Cup series, Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) rode away from Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) to take a commanding solo win. Van der Haar, clearly excited with his podium place, out-sprinted Albert for second. A broken chain in the opening laps saw Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) impressively work his way through the field, ultimately claiming fifth place. America’s Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) spent much of the race leading the chase group, taking seventh place as Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) came around him at the line for sixth. In the women’s race, Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) and Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank) made it a two-woman affair, with Helen Wyman (Kona) chasing solo behind. Compton did her best to try to shed van Paassen before the sprint, but was unsuccessful in her attempt and had to settle for second as the Dutchwoman came around her for the win. Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld) took ninth.
Business as usual for Pauwels; a long day at the office for Nys
As the men launched from the line beneath dry skies, it was Klaas Vantornout who proved fastest, taking the holeshot with Lars van der Haar slotting in directly behind. Both Nys and Pauwels took their customary positions in the top five, with the notable exception of Albert, who had to work during the first part of the race to overcome a poor start.
In the opening laps, the race looked to be unfolding to the usual script: Nys, van der Haar, Vantornout and Pauwels all traded leads, the long string of riders behind them slowly stretching further and further apart. As Albert clawed his way toward the front, Jeremy Powers could also be seen in the top twenty, slowly picking off riders.
At the end of the first lap, the four, along with Tom Meeusen and Radomir Simunek, had established a small lead, with Albert just grabbing on as they passed through. Meeusen would not hang on much longer, but Simunek would spend the rest of the race yo-yo-ing on the back, ultimately fading on the final lap.
As the racers moved around the course, both Nys and Pauwels were looking to be in full control, Nys hopping barriers, Pauwels with his trademark stoic face. A show-down between the two was not to be, however, as Nys snapped his chain and was forced to run a large portion of the lap. By the time he made it to the pit, he was well over twenty riders down.
Nys was not about to call it a day, however, and as the lead five settled into a pace that would last until two laps to go, the Belgian champion set about the long task of making his way back to the front. Watching the veteran pick his way through the field proved to be the most exciting aspect of the race, as in the front the four leaders seemed content to ride as a pack.
As Nys chased behind, and the leaders traded turns at the front, Jeremy Powers worked his way to the front of the chase group. The US National Champion spent the latter half of the race in this position, pushing hard. At one point, he clawed seven seconds back on the leaders, bringing them within sight.
And then, with just over two laps to go, Pauwels turned on the gas. The Sunweb-Revor rider took to the front, accelerated hard, and saw no response from Albert or van der Haar. By the end of the race he had carved out nearly fifteen seconds. The move snapped Simunek off the lead for good, to be picked up first by Nys – who had simply blown straight through the Powers-led chase – and then by Powers et al.
Pauwels had more than enough time to celebrate along the finishing straight, and it was an elated Lars van der Haar who out-sprinted the World Champion for second place. Vantornout, who had ridden a strong, smart race, had been unable to hang onto Albert’s wheel when he set after Pauwels, and came in fourth. Nys, the consummate professional, minimized his losses with a fifth place finish.
As Powers brought a group of five – Simunek, Meeusen, Bart Aernouts and Marcel Wildhader – to the finishing straight, Aernouts surged around the Rapha rider for sixth place. This is Power’s best placing at a World Cup event.
|2||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||1:05:12|
|9||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||1:05:44|
|15||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:06:42|
|25||Gerben DE KNEGT||NED||1:07:17|
|34||Micki VAN EMPEL||NED||1:07:59|
|36||Egoitz MURGOITIO REKALDE||ESP||1:08:28|
|37||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:08:36|
|1||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||40:57:00|
|12||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||42:35:00|
|17||Sophie DE BOER||NED||42:45:00|
|18||Alice Maria ARZUFFI||ITA||43:38:00|
|20||Marlène MOREL PETITGIRARD||FRA||43:50:00|
|22||Maureen BRUNO ROY||USA||44:24:00|
|25||Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG||DEN||44:49:00|