Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv-Giant) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) have left Rome victorious after the penultimate round of the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup.
Vos, widely considered the best rider in the world, delivered another impressive victory and declared herself ready to defend her world title in Kentucky next month.
The Dutch rider finished some 24 seconds ahead of second-placed Katie Compton (Trek), who wrapped up overall victory in the series.
British champion, Helen Wyman (Kona), was sixth, more than a minute-and-a-half behind Vos, while countrywoman, Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea), suffered a disappointing day and finished twelfth.
Harris remains second overall, but now faces a strong challenge for her runner’s up position from Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank Liv-Giant), who was fourth in Rome and is now just four points behind the British rider.
In the men’s elite race, defending World Cup champion, Kevin Pauwels, put himself back in contention with an impressive victory.
Victor in Tabor and Namur, the Belgian finished a comfortable 16 seconds ahead of countryman and world champion, Niels Albert (BKCP- Powerplus), while Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony), winner of three of the last four rounds, suffered a disastrous day and finished twentieth. The Belgian national champion, a seven-time World Cup winner, blamed illness for his failure to ride with his customary strength.
Pauwel’s teammate, Klaas Vantornout, rode tactically with his team leader during the early stages and the Sunweb-Napoleon Games pairing looked set for a one-two finish, until Vantornout suffered a mechanical late in the race.
With just one round left, Albert retains a lead of 26 points on Pauwels, and a 39-point margin over Nys. Any of the three men could clinch overall victory in Hoogerheide on January 20.
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup 2012-13: round seven – Rome
1) Kevin Pauwels (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoleon Games – 1.01.17
2) Niels Albert (BEL) – BKCP-Powerplus +16”
3) Marco Aurelio Fontana (ITA) – Cannondale +22”
4) Francis Mourey (FRA) FDJ +27”
5) Klaas Vantornout (BEL) – Sunweb-Napoleon Games +32”
6) Lars van der Haar (NED) – Giant Off-Road Team +50”
7) Radomir Simunek (CZE) – Kwadro-Stannah +51”
8) Bart Aernouts (BEL) – AA Drink +53”
9) Marcel Wildhaber (SWI) – Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing Team +1.02
10) Twan van den Brand (NED) – Orange Babies +1.10
1) Marianne Vos (NED) – Rabobank Liv-Giant – 39:38
2) Katie Compton (USA) – Trek +24”
3) Katerina Nash (CZE) – Luna Pro Team +1.08
4) Sanne van Paassen (NED) – Rabobank Liv-Giant +1.15
5) Sanne Cant (BEL) – Veldritacademie Enertherm – BKCP +1.22
6) Helen Wyman (GBR) – Kona +1.37
7) Sabrina Stultiens (NED) – Rabobank Liv-Giant +1.46
8) Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (FRA) – BH-SR Suntour-Peisey Vallandry +1.48
9) Ellen Van Loy (BEL) – Melbotech Prorace CT +2.02
10) Eva Lechner (ITA) – Colnago Sudtirol +2.03