Pauwels claimed the crowning moment of a career spent supporting the top names on the world’s biggest stages with a gutsy break 11km from home.
Pauwels’ team-mate Omar Fraile of Spain came home second ahead of Frenchman Jonathan Hivert, and the win itself owed much to the team dynamic at Dimension Data, embodied by their Yorkshire-born Classics specialist Scott Thwaites.
Thwaites, who admitted to having ‘butterflies’ when the race swept through his hometown of Burley-in-Wharfedale earlier in the stage, took his turn on the front over those brutal final climbs in the last 16km.
“Everybody contributed to the win and to get a one-two is really immpressive,” said Thwaites.
“There were a lot of dangerous teams so it was down to me to control the group and I managed to slim it down to 25 riders, which was the idea.
“We had four riders in there so we had plenty of options.”