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ANTWERP, Belgium (VN) — Sven Nys finally lost a race — Sunweb-Revor’s Kevin Pauwels nipped the Landbouwkrediet rider at the line on Saturday to win the Scheldecross.
Nys appeared to unclip his left shoe as the two began a sprint to the line, having shed world champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus). The rare miscue gave Pauwels the edge he needed to take the victory.
Albert hung on for third.
“I am very happy with this victory,” said Pauwels. “I felt good.”
Nys, meanwhile, called his botched sprint “annoying,” adding that it was his fault for coming too hot out of the final corner.
“I wanted to start sprinting as fast as possible, but in the turn I was a little too wild,” he said.
Nys was off the front early before being joined by Wietse Bosmans (BKCP), Simon Zahner (EKZ) and Pauwels with just over six laps to go on what proved to be a very fast course, despite its long sandy stretches.
A lap later Albert had bridged as well, along with teammates Radomir Simunek and Dieter Vanthourenhout and Jim Aernouts (Sunweb).
Pauwels then opened a gap, leaving Nys to chase a few seconds down with Albert alone in third.
With just under four to go Nys and Albert had rejoined Pauwels and the trio had perhaps 10 seconds on a sizable chase containing Aernouts, Bosmans and Simunek.
A lap later Aernouts latched onto the leaders in a sandy U-turn, but Albert took the point, upped the pace and quickly distanced the Sunweb rider, who fell back to the pursuit.
Then Nys came forward, leading over the double barriers and into two laps to go.
As Bosman and Simunek led the first chase a dozen seconds down Albert began having trouble sticking with the leaders and finally came off in that sandy U-turn. Nys, meanwhile, took a bit of a gap over Pauwels, who fought back to his wheel, but Albert was gone for good.
As Pauwels and Nys got the bell for the final lap Albert was seven seconds behind, and while he would close to within five seconds on the long staircase run, that was as close as he would come to rejoining the leaders.
And Nys, who early on seemed headed for another routine win, found himself only second best for the first time in quite a while as Pauwels finally returned to the top step of the podium.