by David Evans
Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took advantage of Kevin Pauwels’ (Sunweb-Revor) misstep in Sunday’s World Cup in Liévin to take a solo win. The duo, having dropped all of the field, barring Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus), after just two laps, looked to be preparing for a sprint before Pauwels’ right foot went under him as he chased Stybar up the stairs.
The wide, grassy course of Liévin ensured a furious and non-technical race. Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) made the hole shot after the longest opening straight in the World Cup series. Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) was the only big name missing from the front end of the peloton as the race moved from tarmac to grass. “The Kannibal” took a bike change shortly after, leaving him in an anonymous position on a course that didn’t suit his particular talents.
Christian Heule (Canondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) made a brief appearance at the front before the end of the second lap, with Pauwels sitting comfortably in first wheel. Simon Zahner (BMC) animated the front to no avail, and the anglophone grouping of Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles), Jeremy ‘J-Pow’ Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) could be spotted around fifteen riders from the front. As the brief but steep climbs began creating gaps, Phillip Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus), Simunek and Pauwels upped the pace.
Stybar recognised the danger of their move, bridging up to the move. Once there he seemed content to let Pauwels drive the break and before the end of the third lap the three had over 12 seconds on their chasers. The pace proved too hot for Walsleben who was soon dropped. Simunek seemed to struggle to match the assured power of his companions, but avoided going into the red by not letting his nose touch the wind.
Pauwels spun a smaller gear than Stybar up the climbs, and took advantage of this fluidity to apply pressure to the World Champion. Stybar had the advantage on the stairs and out of corners, so Pauwels’ testing didn’t come to anything. Steve Chainel (FDJ-Big Mat), despite looking fairly haggard with his usual Paula Radcliffe tribute head nod, spent some time in the no man’s land between the leaders and the Sven Nys Supporters’ group that had gathered in replacement of an organised chase.
Stybar began producing punchy efforts at the beginning of the sixth lap. Pauwels proved worthy of these probing attacks, whereas Simunek did not. After several admirable efforts to stay in contact, the Czech focused on securing third place. When it became clear that Stybar couldn’t dislodge the Belgian, they settled into a tempo somewhat slower than the start of the race; 15 seconds a lap slower to be precise.
It seemed that a Nys-less version of of the Zolder World Cup was going to play out. Stybar rode from the front, although the wide and fast corners prevented him from deploying his ultra-defensive slowing of the pace to stop Pauwels coming past. The squeal of cork on carbon could be heard as the pair scrubbed off small amounts of speed around Liévin’s criterium corners.
Pauwels’ fall proved as spectacular as it was unexpected. On replay, his dismount proved fine and he almost had the bike to his shoulder when his right leg disappeared from underneath him. The fall was a heavy one, but he was soon running again with only a mark of mud on his nose to show for it. This wasn’t enough to keep him in contention for the win, Stybar was gone.
Stybar had enough time to blow his nose, check for mud on his white leg warmers, tap his frame and kiss his stem before posting up for the win. After crossing the line, the obviously overjoyed Czech dismounted and raised his bike above his head. Pauwels’ kept second place, building his lead over Nys in the overall standings, Simunek rolled over for a well deserved third, and Nys crushed the sprint for fourth.
On the US side of things, Powers took 14th, followed by Page in 17th, Heule in 20th, Ryan Trebon in 22nd and Jamey Driscoll just making the top 30.
U23 Men: Lars van der Haar continues dominance in Lievin
World Champion Lars van der Haar won his second world cup of the season in Lievin. The leader in the World Cup won solo over the surprising Julian Alaphilippe and Michael Vanthourenhout.
The start was very hectic. Van der Haar crashed on an ice spot in the first corner and lost about twenty places. Belgian Champion Wietse Bosmans had a less-than-perfect start as well. Italian champion Elia Silvestri took the holeshot followed by Vinnie Braet and Stan Godrie.
In the third lap a large group lead the race, including the returned Van der Haar. Van der Haar didn’t wait for long and attacked straight away. Behind Van der Haar was a large chasing group with, amongst others, Mike Teunissen, Stan Godrie, Michael Vanthourenhout, Laurens Sweeck, Julian Alaphilippe, Clement Venturini, Vojtech Nipl and Thomas Paprstka. In the meantime Wietse Bosmans dropped out of the race after crashing into compatriot Gianni Vermeersch.
It looked like Van der Haar was going to win easily, but he crashed again and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe bridged up. The two turned into the final lap together, but the Dutchman was too strong on the climbs and added another impressive win to his palmares. Michael Vanthourenhout was the best of the rest for third.
“It didn’t go smooth today,” Van der Haar admitted. “I crashed twice. The first time straight after the start and the second time with three laps to go. After my first crash it took me two laps to get back to the front again. I didn’t wait and attacked immediately because the pace was too slow. It was very difficult to ride alone on the course. Especially the asphalt section to the finish was tough. Today I was good but not super. But that is not needed. I hope to have that bit of extra in two weeks at the World Championships.”
Junior Men: Mathieu van der Poel Proved Unstoppable
World Cup leader Mathieu van der Poel took his 20th win of the season in Lievin. The European- and Dutch National Champion won solo. German National Champion Silvio Herklotz and France’s Romain Seigle completed the podium.
French Champion Quentin Jaurequi took the holeshot, followed by Mathieu van der Poel, Silvio Herklotz, Yorben van Tichelt, Romain Seigle and Anthony Turgis. Van der Poel attacked in the second lap on the fast, hilly course and kept his lead on the chasers which never became more than 15 seconds.
The battle for second ended in the final lap when Silvio Herklotz got rid off Seigle and Turgis. Jaurequi and Van Tichelt were dropped already.
“I have worked on my power this year,” said Van der Poel who took his 20th win and only lost three races this season. “What I have achieved as a first year junior is impressive. I have had a good road season and that is the base of what I have achieved now. I am happy with my third world cup win of this season. Next week in Hoogerheide will be very tough to take four out of four because the pressure will be huge in the Grand Prix of my dad. But I will go for it.”
Photos – Bart Hazen
U23 Gallery – Bart Hazen
Junior Gallery – Bart Hazen
Elite Men Results:
|10||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||26||55||60|
|18||Egoitz MURGOITIO REKALDE||ESP||29||1:43||44|
|26||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||23||2:45||34|
|34||Isaac SUAREZ FERNANDEZ||ESP||33||3:18||26|
|37||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||27||3:45||23|
|38||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||33||4:12||22|
|1||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED|
|15||Michiel VAN DER HEIJDEN||NED|
|16||David VAN DER POEL||NED|
|26||Micki VAN EMPEL||NED|
|32||Michael (JR) SCHWEIZER||GER|
|39||Michel VUELTA IZQUIERDO||ESP|
|40||Emil Arvid OLSEN||DEN|
|1||Mathieu VAN DER POEL||NED|
|5||Yorben VAN TICHELT||BEL|
|19||Kevin SUAREZ FERNANDEZ||ESP|
|20||Wout VAN AERT||BEL|
|23||Matthias VAN DE VELDE||BEL|
|28||Pjotr VAN BEEK||NED|
|40||Marco K NIG||GER|