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Overijse, Belgium, December 14, 2008

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Pauwels takes the grapes

By Brecht Decaluwé

Kevin Pauwels wins a close race
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The so-called 'grape cross' in Overijse has been won by Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team). The shy Belgian winner, a former world champion in the junior and U23 categories, left his mark with the Elite men for the very first time by grabbing the win in the 'mother of all classics'. The 24-year-old Belgian exploited the rivalry between big guns Sven Nys and Lars Boom in a tactical last lap. "This is fantastic," Pauwels said, "especially because it was ages ago since I actually won a race so this feels great."

Belgian champion Sven Nys was alone in the lead during the first half of the race but was joined by Pauwels and world champion Boom. "For a moment I thought I would grab an easy victory, but then two guys with great legs managed to come back so I had to adjust my tactics," Nys admitted. "It was a great spectacle and I don't think anybody could get away on his own in the end so tactics decided the winner today.".

Lars Boom showed his strength in the first lap but after a mechanical he forced himself to make an impressive comeback. Unfortunately for the Dutchman he couldn't finish it off as he eyed Nys following Pauwels' move in the final kilometer. "I expected it," Boom said, "but I thought Nys would stick on his wheel which didn't happen. The gap he had was just a little too big for me," Boom said. "Then again it was a super 'cross. After my mechanical I didn't want to give up. I was riding around with my SRM (watt-meter) after two training weeks in Spain so I planned to go full out for the full sixty minutes and make a great race of it," Boom explained.

Last year's winner Klaas Vantornout featured among the leaders that brought back sole leaders Nys halfway the race but he then encountered a mechanical that brought him out of position to win the race.

Both Pauwels and Boom hinted out that their rivals should start to get worried ahead of the world championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands. "If I can win here I can do it as well at the world's," said Pauwels. Meanwhile, Boom explained that despite performing well in Overijse he wasn't quite in top form just yet. "My best form will be coming up in a few weeks from now," Boom said.

Most racers at the start in Overijse will be battling each other again in Antwerp on Friday before heading to France for the World Cup race in Nommay on Sunday.

How it unfolded

Lars Boom (Rabobank) checks for pursuers
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Three men launched from the start grid like cannon balls in Overijse and distanced the peloton on the tricky, steep road over the Tenotsberg. Youngsters Kevin Pauwels, world champion Lars Boom and Rob Peeters were the early attackers but Boom and Peeters quickly lost their enthusiasm. Peeters crashed on the slippery cobbles after the descent of the Tenotsberg while Boom punctured well away from the pit zone, ending up more than half a minute from the front of the race.

While Nys and Vantornout powered forward towards Pauwels during the third lap, Bart Wellens found out that he didn't have the necessary tools to battle along today. Behind the leaders, Boom seemed to be the only rider who had the power to move back up but one man wasn't planning to wait on the comeback from the world champion. With five laps to go Nys hammered up the Tenotsberg through the meadow leaving Vantornout and Pauwels without an answer.

With four laps to go Nys seemed to be struggling to hold his lead with Vantornout, Pauwels and also Boom getting closer. Just when Nys was about to get caught Vantornout broke his dérailleur leaving the front of the race that suddenly featured three leaders, Nys, Pauwels and an impressive Boom. The three leaders waged a tactical battle in the last laps that allowed the return of Boom's team-mate Bart Aernouts. In the last lap Boom attacked in the descent from the Tenotsberg, without luck, before trying again on the climb through the meadow, again without luck. In the final kilometer Pauwels took over the lead from Boom and reached the finishing straight with a small gap over Boom and Nys. Boom didn't give up but the gap proved to be enough for Pauwels to take his first big win.


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Images by Niels De Wit/www.nielsdewit.be

Images by Erik Van Breugel/www.cyclingmoments.com


1 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                  59.30
2 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank                                     
3 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner              0.05
4 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank                                 
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team                   0.26
6 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne                          0.47
7 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team        1.07
8 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                 1.20
9 Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team         1.26
10 Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team      1.32
11 Marek Cichosz (Pol) Legia                               1.59
12 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team        2.04
13 Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne              2.08
14 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner        2.10
15 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof          2.26
16 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Drink - Be One             2.40
17 Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team              2.42
18 Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor Cycling Team                    3.01
19 Davy Coenen (Bel) Mega Saeco - Heist o/d berg           3.15
20 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team                     3.30
21 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team            3.31
22 Tomasz Repinski (Pol) Legia                             3.55
23 Stijn Huys (Bel) Palmans Cras                           4.48
24 Dries Dewit (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team                4.58
25 Geert Wellens (Bel) AVB Cycling Team                    5.31
26 Sylvester Janiszewski (Pol) Legia                       5.42
27 Tom De Kort (Bel) AVB Cycling Team                          
28 Jimmy Tielens (Bel) Team Mega Saeco - Heist o/d berg    6.08
29 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Columbia                       7.08
30 Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) National Select - Netherlands        
31 Bart Verschueren (Bel) Revor Cycling Team               7.32
One lap behind
32 Bjorn Hoeben (Ned) Van Hemert Groep - De Jonge Renner       
Two laps behind
33 Andre Sutton (Can) Hardcore Cycling Club                    
Three laps behind
34 Tomasz Skrzypek (Pol) Team Shop4cross                       
Five laps behind
35 Freddy De Meester (Bel) Rijschool AH - Gentse VS

Past winners

2007 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team          Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Team Getränke-Hoffmann
2006 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank                            Daphny Van Den Brand (Ned)
2005 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
2004 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank
2003 Bart Wellens (Bel) Spaar Select
2002 Bart Wellens (Bel) Spaar Select
2001 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Collstrop-Palmans
2000 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) RVS Liege
1999 Richard Groenendaal (Ned)
1998 Erwin Vervecken (Bel)
1997 Richard Groenendaal (Ned)
1996 Luca Bramati (Ita)
1995 Luca Bramati (Ita)
1994 Adri Van der Poel (Ned)
1993 Daniele Pontoni (Ita)
1992 Daniele Pontoni (Ita)
1991 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi)
1990 Danny De Bie (Bel)
1989 Christian Hautekeete (Bel)
1988 Danny De Bie (Bel)
1987 Roland Liboton (Bel)
1986 Roland Liboton (Bel)
1985 - 2 Hennie Stamsnijder (Ned)
1985 - 1 Roland Liboton (Bel)
1984 - 2 Roland Liboton (Bel)
1984 - 1 Eric and Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1983 Roland Liboton (Bel)
Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com