Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team) won the Noordzeecross round of this year’s Superprestige series in Middelkerke today, after taking advantage of a mid-race "bobble" by World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team), that gave the Belgian rider enough of an advantage to seize the victory.
In his usual fashion, Van der Poel got off to an early lead, and began pulling away from Pauwels, Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team) and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin), when he crashed coming off a small bump into a sand section.
From there, Pauwels and van Aert rode several laps together at the front, before today’s winner succeeded in gaining a slight advantage over van Aert – after bunny hopping his way through a set of barriers.
Pauwels continued to build his gap from there, as van der Poel slowly made his way past van der Haar and then van Aert. Still, the World Champion fell just short of bringing back the leader.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Kevin Pauwels (BEL) Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team
2 Mathieu van der Poel (NED) BKCP – Powerplus Cycling Team
3 Wout Van Aert (BEL) Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Cycling Team
4 Lars van der Haar (NED) Team Giant – Alpecin
5 Tom Meeusen (BEL) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team
6 Jens Adams (BEL) Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Cycling Team
7 Sven Nys (BEL) Crelan – AA Drink Team
8 Klaas Vantornout (BEL) Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team
9 Vincent Baestaens (BEL) BKCP – Powerplus Cycling Team
10 Tim Merlier (BEL) Sunweb – Napoleon Games Cycling Team
In the women’s race, the unstoppable Sanne Cant once again rode to victory, ahead of British champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) and Femke van den Driessche (Kleur op maat-Corpellets-Sortimmo Cycling Team).
The first lap of today’s race, was a tense battle between Wyman, Cant and her Young Telenet Fidea teammates, Pavla Havlikova and Nikki Harris.
However, from there on, Havokova and Harris began to fade, while Wyman continued to challenge Cant.
Back in the chase, Harris and Havlikova were joined by Loes Sels (Young Telenet-Fidea), Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet-Fidea), Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) and van den Driessche.
After the second lap, Cant began to set a pace that proved to be too high for Wyman, who quickly dropped back just in front of the chase group.
Back in chase, Van den Driessche and Verschueren, continued to stir things up, especially as they rode through the sand sections.
Back up front, Cant continued to increase her lead over over Wyman. And, as she entered the final lap, it was clear that she was well on her way to seizing the victory.
This left the race to a battle for second place, after Van den Driessche succeeded in bridging her way to Wyman – at the start of the final lap.
At one point, Van den Driessche managed to open up a slight gap over Wyman – through the sand section. However, Wyman eventually made her way back up Van den Driessche, only to drop the Belgian rider during the last half of the final lap – to claim second place.
Meanwhile, Verschueren crossed the line in fourth, followed by Van Loy, Harris, Sels and Havlikova.
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