Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) won the seventh round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup on Sunday in Pont-Château, France.
The race on the mostly dry, undulating 2.65km circuit quickly boiled down to a two-man battle between Pauwels and World Cup leader Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus). Albert was first to jump off the front, early in the third lap, and when Pauwels bridged the two set about creating an insurmountable gap.
With six laps remaining the leaders had more than 40 seconds on a chase group containing Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Steve Chainel (FdJ), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant) and several others.
It was a race for third, won by Nys, who rounded out the podium at 40 seconds back.
Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) was the best-placed American, finishing 12th at 0:58.
Albert continues to lead the World Cup with 490 points. Pauwels is second with 429 and Nys third with 419. The series concludes Jan. 23 in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.