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LEUVEN, Belgium (VN) — World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) soloed to a commanding victory on Sunday in the Soudal Classics round at Leuven.
Albert rode away from Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) on the second lap and never looked back.
Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) emerged from a chase with three laps to go to take command of second place. A lap later, Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) did likewise to claim the final spot on the podium.
Peeters punches it
Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) jumped out to an early lead on lap one, bunny-hopping the barriers and avoiding a huge crush on the first short, steep run-up.
But he soon had company and plenty of it. Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb) took the lead of what became a 14-man lead group. Nys, meanwhile, was 15 seconds down in a chase group at the end of the first lap.
Once again Peeters took the point, and Albert joined him, with his teammates Marcel Meisen and Dieter Vanthourenhout just behind.
Then Albert opened it up and almost instantly took a big lead over Peeters, who was overhauled by the group the two had left behind.
The chase shrank and grew over the course of the next few laps. With four to go Philipp Walsleben (BKCP) attacked the group just before the line, and Pauwels and Peeters went after him, with Wietse Bosmans (BKCP) just behind.
With three laps remaining Pauwels and Walsleben had shed Peeters, but they were nearly a minute behind Albert. Then Pauwels dropped Walsleben on a nasty series of short climbs and sketchy descents and took sole possession of second place.
With two to go Nys had moved forward to join Walsleben and Peeters. But he didn’t stay with them for long. Come bell lap he had moved into third, 20 seconds behind Pauwels.
And that’s the way things would stay. Albert won handily, followed by Pauwels in second and Nys third.
Cant certainly can
Earlier in the day, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) won the women’s race.
The Belgian champ took command early, surging to the lead on the first lap and riding the course’s treacherous descents as the others chose to dismount and run.
Amy Dombroski (Telenet) battled for second with Ellen Van Loy, finally slipping past the Melbotech rider after she slid out on a descent.
Another American, Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles), just missed the podium, working her way through the field to finish fourth.