ZONHOVEN, Belgium – Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team) closed in on Sven Nys (Crelan – AA Drink Team) in the last few meters of the 2014 edition of Superprestige Zonhoven, pipping him at the line in a race that to that point seemed to be unfolding like a textbook win for the Belgian National Champion.
Nys made all the right moves, repeatedly accelerating to put his rivals in the red, easing up only when it seemed to his advantage. The first attack came in lap three, splintering the large group of riders that were still making up the front of the race. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team) was the only one able to respond, latching onto Nys’ wheel until crashing on a fast, sandy descent early in lap four.
Following 12 seconds behind, Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) found himself in in no-man’s-land, with Lars van der Haar (Giant Shimano Development Team), and teammates Philipp Walsleben (BKCP – Powerplus Cycling Team) and Mathiew van der Poel making the chase group. Pauwels missed the initial selection, taking up ranks in the group that followed.
Meeusen slowly closed the deficit to catch Nys, content to let Nys do the pacemaking until forced to pull through at the end of lap six. The deceleration allowed individual chasers van der Haar and Pauwels, now in fourth position, to catch on, swelling the lead group to four, van der Poel trailing a few second back. But repeated accelerations by Nys in the next two laps once again took their toll with Meeusen falling off the pace first.
With two laps to go it seemed that Nys was in control and biding his time for a final push, allowing Pauwels to take the lead periodically with van der Haar holding on but showing his fatigue, dangling off the back of the group. Nys made his final move in a gutsy last second pass, pulling around Pauwels just before hitting the last sand pit of the course and gaining what seemed to be a significant advantage.
Pauwels, however, would not concede, making up ground on some of the technical turns that followed. By the time Nys pulled onto the tarmac, Pauwels was making the catch, the repeated attacks taking their their toll as Pauwels was able to edge by just before hitting the line.
Third place went to van der Haar with Meeusen holding onto fourth ahead of van der Poel.
See the women’s report and results: Sanne Cant Beats Nikki Harris to win the 2014 Superprestige Zonhoven cyclocross race – Full Results
Superprestige Zonhoven 2014 Elite Men's Results
|3||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||58:17:00|
|5||Mathieu VAN DER POEL||NED||59:02:00|
|9||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||59:42:00|
|19||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:00:58|
|20||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||1:01:49|
|23||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:02:08|
|24||Dave DE CLEYN||BEL||1:02:25|