Kevin Pauwels finished fourth at Superprestige Zonhoven. © Bart Hazen

File photo: Kevin Pauwels, shown here at Superprestige Zonhoven, took the win at Ruddervoorde. © Bart Hazen

RUDDERVOORDE, Belgium – Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) soloed to victory in the third round of the 2015 Hansgrohe Superprestige series in Ruddervoorde. Pauwels made the move in the second lap to distance himself out of a select group of six including Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Radomir Simunek (Corendon-Kwadro), Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink), Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice Golden Palace), and Klaas Vanthornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).

Missing the break was yesterday’s winner and new 2015 European Cyclocross Champion Lars Van der Haar (Team Giant-Alpecin). Van der Haar tried to claw his way back from a bad start, leapfrogging riders but never managing to make contact with the front of the race, finishing in sixth place for the day.

Nys looked the strongest of the chasers, closing the gap to Pauwels by the next lap and initially bringing Meeusen with him until the pace proved too high forcing Meeusen to ease off the gas. Then a mistake by Nys in lap four sent him over the bars on a tight left-hand turn allowing Meeusen the opportunity to catch up. Now off and running, Pauwels managed to hold his lead with a nearly flawless performance despite the efforts of a recovered Nys, taking the win in commanding style.

Moving up form what had become the second chase group, van Aert was able overtake a fading Meeusen and then use the sand pits to his advantage to join Nys at the end of lap six in what became the battle for second place. Nys allowed the younger rider to do the pace-making through the seventh lap before taking the reigns over in the eight. It appeared that Nys was planning to be in position to attack from behind on the last lap but some slight cornering errors gave van Aert an advantage. A small gap had now formed that could not be recovered as the pair approached the sand pit for the last time.

Vanthornout, who had accompanied van Aert in the chase mid-race managed to overtake Meeusen in the waning minutes to claim fourth, while early contender Simunek was seen being attended to after a crash in the fifth lap. No word yet on the severity of any injuries.

Pauwels victory moves him into second place with a 37-point tie in the standings with Nys, seven points behind van Aert and just two points ahead of Van der Haar as they go on to round four in Gavere on November 15.

Be sure to read our Elite Women’s race report to get more details about Sanne Cant’s win.

2105 Superprestige Ruddervoorde Elite Men’s Brief Results

1. Kevin Pauwels in 1’05 “
2. Wout van Aert 15 “
3. Sven Nys 29 “
4. Klaas Vantornout 1’07 “
5. Tom Meeusen 1’17 “
6.  Lars van der Haar (Ned) 1’36 “
7. Corne van Kessel (Ned) 2’01 “
8. Diether Sweeck 2’07 “
9. Laurens Sweeck 2’10 “
10. Tim Merlier 2’13 “