Coming off another action-packed weekend of International cyclocross, here’s this week’s installment of Pavé’s power rankings.
1. Kevin Pauwels (1) - Pauwels is on fire. It’s not that he’s winning races – we knew he was capable of that – but rather that he’s riding away from Niels Albert early in the race and then dumping Zdenek Stybar late in the race. And he’s doing it all sorts of ways, too – going solo one week, outsprinting somebody the next week, and this past week, outmaneuvering his opponent late in the race. His performance is causing Nys and Stybar to deliver tweets of admiration and awe.
2. Niels Albert (4) - Albert takes a couple steps up in the power rankings due to a victory at last weekend’s GP Wallonne, in which he bested Stybar. Albert’s physical form seems to be where it needs to be – victories at Ruddervoorde and Zonhoven back that up – but we can’t help but wonder if it’s his mental game that puts him behind the 8-ball in big races. He spends a lot of time chasing, but we’re inclined to think he’ll be looking to triple up on Superpretige wins at this weekend’s race in Hamme-Zogge.
3. Zdenek Stybar (2) - The only thing stopping Zdenek Stybar from being the Zdenek Stybar we all know and love is that Kevin Pauwels stands in his way. His form has been rising but he’s been persistently stymied by his Belgian rival, but it’s only a matter of time before the tables are turned.
4. Sven Nys (3) - Nys has gotten his season off to a strong start, but he’s had some bad luck. Adding to that is the fairly pleasant weather outlook, denying Belgium’s best mudder from conditions that suit him best.
5. Tom Meeusen (7) - Meeusen is still lurking right behind the leaders. Of the chunk of riders that are doing that, he’s probably the most significant podium threat.
6. Bart Aernouts (6) - the Rabobank rider has been steadily climbing the results and seeing the front of races. A powerful move saw him lead the way at the Ronse GVA race this past weekend. It didn’t stick, but Aernouts is looking strong. If his form keeps building he’ll hit the podium soon.
7. Klaas Vantornout (5) - Vantornout – Pauwels’ teammate on Sunweb-Revor – looks like he’s having a hard time matching the form that he displayed en route to a podium place at Tabor.
8. Radomir Simunek (8) - Simu’s been building form and snagged a podium last weekend – let’s see if he’ll get a chance to repeat that performance at this weekend’s Superprestige race. He’ll have a deeper field to contend against, but he might get the opportunity to float by for a chunk of the race if his teammate Albert gets where he wants to be.
9. Francis Mourey (nr) - Mourey came back from France with a handful of fresh decent results, including fourth place at GP Wallone. Fourth place seems to be just about where he tops out.
10. Rob Peeters (nr) - the sleeper result of the weekend was Peeters’ 5th place at GP Wallone. It wasn’t a particularly deep field but you can’t write off a performance that sees him finishing only :15 behind Niels Albert.
Dropped this week: Bart Wellens (9), Vincent Baestaens (10).
Stay tuned for our Cyclocross Weekend Previews, coming tomorrow!