Kevin Pauwels showed he's just as formidable on skinny tires as on knobbies. © Bart Hazen

by Robbie Carver

Some of our favorite ’cross riders showed strong form at the Tour de Serbia, which took place from June 14th to 19th in temperatures ranging as high as 97 degrees. Most notably, Kevin Pauwels out-sprinted his competitors for a Stage 4 win, a move which put him into second place in GC, just one second behind the leader. Pauwels couldn’t hang onto his position, however, as a Stage 5 breakaway broke up the pack, and he finished six minutes down on the 173km day, and ultimately 14th in GC.

Joining Pauwels in the ’cross ranks were his Telenet Fidea teammates, Zdenek Stybar, Tom Meeusen and Bart Wellens. Stybar showed that his form is returning after having a cyst surgically removed, taking two top-ten finishes and landing 17th overall. “I really enjoyed participating in the Tour of Serbia stage race with my Telenet-Fidea team last week. My health problems are behind me now and it was great to pin on a race number and be back out on the road racing my bike,” he said via his Web site. Meeusen’s consistent placing – three top tens – earned him the best young rider’s White Jersey and a 24th GC placement. Bart Wellens placed a bit lower, taking 63rd in GC.

Telenet Fidea’s team director, Danny de Bie, was justifiably proud. “I saw a strong and complete Pauwels, I saw an enthusiastic Tom Meeusen who earned his white jersey through to the finish. I also saw Zdenek Stybar get better every day,” he said.