Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) continued his comeback on Saturday, soloing to victory in the Bpost Bank Trofee round at Essen.
World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) appeared to have things well in hand with five laps remaining in the fourth round of the eight-race series. He was off the front of the muddy contest with 14 seconds’ advantage when he fumbled a barrier hop, crashing into the barriers lining the course.
Pauwels took over the lead then, while Nys dropped well back and pitted for a fresh bike, seemingly favoring his right hand.
The chase continued, led variously by Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink) and Jim Aernouts (Sunweb), but Pauwels would never be seen again. And as he drove along flawlessly at the front, a resurgent Nys gradually worked his way back from outside the top 10 into second with one lap to go.
And 30 seconds after Pauwels celebrated his victory, Nys crossed for second, with Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) third.
Nys continues to lead the timed Bpost Bank Trofee series by 1:06 over Albert and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb).
In women’s racing, Sanne Cant (Enerthem-BKCP) prevailed in a three-up battle with Helen Wyman (Kona) and Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea), while American Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles) cracked the top 10 in her return to European racing, finishing ninth.
Wyman continues to lead the series by 32 seconds over Cant with Harris third at 43 seconds.