Good morning and welcome back from another weekend of cyclocross action. The highlight of this weekend’s racing was the World Cup race in Igorre, Spain, so let’s take a look at the race and what it’s left us thinking.
- With Kevin Pauwels’ victory in Igorre, it looks like he shrugged off a pair of losses to Sven Nys last weekend. This time, Pauwels didn’t give Nys an opportunity to box him out in the sprint, instead distancing himself from Nys and the rest and going solo for nearly five laps. For a guy who won most of his races last year in the sprint, this represents an admirable bit of physical maturity.
- It should be noted that Nys lost touch with Pauwels due to a flat tire. It was a bit of poor luck that Nys nearly overcame, swapping bikes and pulling Pauwels to within four seconds, but he could never close the gap and wound up finishing :45 behind the younger Belgian.
- Behind, Tom Meeusen bested Bart Aernouts for the final podium position – Aernouts bobbled the final corner and went down. Meanwhile, in a repeat of last weekend’s racing, Zdenek Stybar didn’t have much for the last lap and limped home in 5th place.
- What gives, Zdenek? We’re not used to seeing you finish over a minute behind the leaders. A few weeks ago, everything was the Nys, Pauwels, and Stybar show. But Stybar’s fallen off of their pace. What will it take to get him to be a podium contender?
- Stybar’s drop has made room on the podium for Tom Meeusen and Bart Aernouts, but neither of them look capable of challenging Nys and Pauwels for victories yet.
- Klaas Vantornout finished back in 11th, a surprisingly low finish for him. As a result he drops from 4th in the World Cup standings down to 7th.
- Steve Chainel, who electrified Milan-San Remo in the spring, finished 10th.
Pauwels’ performance at this point in the season make it look entirely possible that he’ll claim at least one of the three major series – the World Cup, the Superprestige, and the GVA Trophy. Though he faltered last year in the final race of the Superprestige series, he ought to go into the remaining two months of the season with quite a bit of confidence.