Ok, don't kill me, I don't mean to tell Pauwels didn't deserve to win. He was the favourite on Rome's fast and easy route and he's one of my favourite so I'm happy. But Klaas Vantornout had once again a key role in Pauwels victory and deserved as well to stay on the podium. Moreover Lars Van der Haar was as well a race favourite and he could win. Both Vantornout and Van der Haar lost an important chance dued to mechanical troubles. That's a part of the game, I know. It let me a bitter taste though.
The fastest at the start, Lars Van der Haar took immeditaley the lead with Klaas Vantornout and the French Mourey. The front group consolidated in the first lap with Mourey in first position, then Vantornout, Van der Haar, Albert, Pauwels and Peeters. The boring flat route didn't suit break-aways.
Things changed when Albert attacked followed by Pauwels and Vantornout but Van der Haar sprinted and kept the 3th place. In no time Pauwels, Albert, Van der Haar, Vantornut and Mourey gained a very short gap. Albert was trying to attack again when Van der Haar got a mechanic! I don't know yet what happened exactly but he had to stop. At the same moment Pauwels speeded up and the race seemed over for the young Dutch: when the camera showed him again he was 16th in a group including also Sven Nys - a no race for him today.
That mechanic was an awful bad luck for Lars Van der haar because he was simply flying glued to Albert's wheel. However he didn't give up and was already 11th crossing the line. I thought: " If he manages to stay cool he can come back and fight for the podium". New lap and Van der Haar was 6th! RESPECT! I was amazed: ten positions in two laps. I know, Nys did even better... but... he's Nys. Van der Haar is at his first season in the elite cross peloton.
The Italian champion Fontana meanwhile was trying to join the front group, he was 5th but couldn't fill the gap and was still chasing solo. I thought he could be a point to bridge for Van der Haar but in front things changed again: Vantornout attacked solo and Pauwels slowed down a bit so that Fontana finally joined the group. Finally Pauwels attacked too, bridged to Vantornout and they went away together. At that point Pauwels had already won.
The new situation wasn't good for Van der Haar: 2 laps to go his delay was 26'' from Kevin Pauwels, less of course from the 2nd group with Albert and Mourey but at the last lap it had increased till 43''. He was still 6th anyway and furiously leading the 3th group. The podium looked locked: Pauwels, Vantornout and Albert who had almost dropped Fontana and Mourey. At that point Vantornout got a mechanic! it was a dramatic moment. Pauwels won. He had the time to rise his arms and smile while in the distance Albert appeared from behinde the last curve followed by a sparkling Fontana. Then Mourey. Then Vantornout. His voice was broken on the microphone after the race. 6th was an immense Lars Van der Haar.
Vantornout's mechanics also meaned that Albert won the overall, 2nd Pauwels 3rd Nys 4th Vantornout and 5th Van der Haar. "It was my route, it was fast" Pauwels said "yes, I have been also lucky".
RAI didn't show the race "for thecnical problems dued to the organizers" - source Cycling Pro
@cyclingpro - and that's simply a shame.