Koppenbergcross: Van der Poel, Wyman take home famed stone

Mathieu van de Poel’s (Beobank-Corendon) start-to-finish dominance was not on display at the Koppenbergcross on Wednesday in Oudenaarde, Belgium, but the powerful Dutchman still found a way to win. He conquered the cobbled Koppenberg climb, as the elite men had to ascend the brutal hill on 10 occasions.

European Champion Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea), who was a key animator throughout the race, finished second a handful of seconds behind van der Poel with last year’s winner Lars van de Haar (Telenet Fidea) rounding out the podium in third.

The second stop of the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee headed into the heart of Belgium for the Koppenbergcross, which takes place on and around the climb made famous in the Tour of Flanders. The race always occurs on the first of November and this year it fell on a Wednesday. Despite the midweek race slot, the crowds were immense around the entire course.

A few years ago the organizers redesigned the course and moved the finish line to the top of the climb instead of at the bottom. This changed the dynamic of the race, as the riders had to now tackle the steepest part of the climb. The move of the finish meant that the riders would race up the full length of the Koppenberg at the start, thus adding an extra climb of the Koppenberg.

Van der Haar sprinted hard from the gun, wanting to lead the race up the climb. Furthermore, positioning is key on the climb, as there is a small line of smooth pavement on the left side. Riding there is much faster than tackling the cobbles head on.

At the top of the climb, van der Poel launched a powerful attack, as per custom for him this season, and immediately gapped the rest of the field. However, he would not be able to leave everyone in his wake and ride the rest of the race solo. Aerts had other plans.

The leaders were set after a quick opening two laps of the race that saw Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napolean Games) and Laurens Sweek (ERA-Circus) active at the front. They would not make front group and early on the third lap a leading quartet of van der Poel, Aerts, van der Haar, and world champion Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) had formed.

The leading four would stay wheel to wheel for the next two laps, as a six-rider chase group with Sweeck and Pawels among them rode hard behind. Nearing the top of the Koppenberg to begin the fifth of nine laps, van der Haar sprinted powerfully away from the others.

The pacemaking in the group had largely been done by Aerts and the Belgium was looking for help from the others. Thus, van der Haar took advantage in the slowing of the pace.

Van der Haar would spend a lap and half out in front of the chasing trio behind, but van der Poel made sure he came back. As the catch was made, van der Haar found the energy for another acceleration, which only van der Poel could follow. Aerts would eventually make the junction, but van Aert did not have the legs to follow.

The fight for the podium was set, as van Aert only lost more and more time to the front-runners over the next few laps.

As the bell rang for the final lap, the tension was high as van der Haar, Aerts and van der Poel were still locked together. That all changed midway through the lap though, with van der Poel putting down serious power and attacking away from the other two.

Aerts chased valiantly and turned on to the Koppenberg only five seconds behind van der Poel. However, the Dutchman sprinted up the climb to take the win. He promptly collapsed onto the grass just past the finish line.

Van der Haar comfortably finished in third with Van Aert fourth.

Elite men top-10

    • 1. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:07:49
    • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:01
    • 3. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 1:08:13
    • 4. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:09:03
    • 5. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:18
    • 6. Jens Adams, (BEL), 1:09:19
    • 7. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:09:25
    • 8. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:31
    • 9. Klaas Vantornout, (BEL), 1:09:38
    • 10. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:09:39

Wyman beats Compton in classic duel

Helen Wyman (Kona) conquered the climb she knows all too well on Wednesday at the Koppenbergcross. The former British champion called Oudenaarde home for many years, thus climbing the bergs on a weekly basis.

Katie Compton (KFC Racing/Trek/Panache) put up an incredible fight with Wyman, as the two battled the entire race, but was unable to match the Brit’s speed on the climb in the second race of the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee

Last year’s winner Jolien Verschueren (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) never managed to make the junction to Wyman and Compton during the race, but was able to finish on the last step of the podium.

Wyman’s in-depth knowledge of the Koppenberg climb was evident from the start as she took control of the race and led over the climb and on to the grassy course. Soon after entering the grass, Compton went to the front and stepped on the accelerator. This immediately created separation amongst the riders and only Wyman was able to follow.

The 13-time U.S. national cyclocross champion Compton was clearly the better bike handler of the leading duo. She navigated the twisting descents and opened a gap on Wyman, but Wyman would bring her back and pass her on the Koppenberg.

Behind the leading duo, a chase group of three had formed with British national cyclocross champion Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans), Verschueren, and Geerte Hoeke (Cycling.be-Alpha Motorhomes). The trio trailed Compton and Wyman by 12 seconds at the end of the opening lap.

Over the course of the race, Wyman was clearly the superior climber of the two leaders. Every time up the Koppenberg Wyman would gap Compton, but the American would not go down without a fight. She would use her expert bike handling ability to bring Wyman back.

Kim van de Steene (Tarteletto–Isorex kleuren) bridged to the chase group on the second lap, but Verschueren then attacked in pursuit of the leaders. The Belgian’s small build allowed her to quickly climb the Koppenberg and dig into the lead of Wyman and Compton.

Without a doubt, the Koppenberg climb was the decisive aspect of the course in Oudenaarde and Wyman used it to her advantage. She powered up the climb heading into the final lap and over the crest of the climb she had managed to open a 10-second gap over Compton. Behind, Verschueren was closing in on Compton with the chase group of Brammeier, Hoeke, and van de Steene out the running at more than a minute behind.

The lead Wyman created on the penultimate climb proved to be just enough, as Compton was unable to bring her back on the grass section of the course.

The win for Wyman was a bit of a hometown victory with Oudenaarde being home for so many years. Compton finished in second and retained her lead in the overall standings of the series. Verschueren rounded out the podium with Brammeier getting the best of her chase group companions and taking the fourth spot.

Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) who has had a fantastic 2017 season thus far, had an off day and finished eighth.

The DVV Verzekeringen Trofee continued on November 11 at the Soudal Jaarmarktcross in Niel, Belgium.

Elite women full results

      • 1. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 45:23
      • 2. Katherine Compton, (USA), 45:38
      • 3. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL),45:49
      • 4. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 46:36
      • 5. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 46:43
      • 6. Geerte Hoeke, (NED), 47:06
      • 7. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 47:18
      • 8. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 48:04
      • 9. Elle Anderson, (USA), 48:15
      • 10. Loes Sels, (BEL), 48:31
      • 11. Pasquine Vandermouten, (FRA), 48:53
      • 12. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 49:09
      • 13. Maina Galand, (FRA), 49:23
      • 14. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 49:31
      • 15. Kim Van De Putte, (BEL), 49:39
      • 16. Githa Michiels, (BEL), 49:39
      • 17. Pauline Delhaye, (FRA), 50:59
      • 18. Laura Porhel, (FRA), 51:20
      • 19. Jinse Peeters, (BEL), 51:46
      • 20. Lizzy Witlox, (NED), 51:59
      • 21. Natalie Redmond, (AUS), 52:07
      • 22. Shana Maes, (BEL), 52:18
      • 23. Aniek Van Alphen, (NED), 52:47
      • 24. Marieke Van Witzenburg, (NED), 52:51
      • 25. Pien Limpens, (NED), 54:10
      • 26. Elodie Kuijper, (NED), 54:47
      • 27. Tine Rombouts, (BEL)
      • 28. Nele De Vos, (BEL)
      • 29. Mara Schwager, (GER)
      • 30. Jo Blanchaert, (BEL)

Elite men full results

    • 1. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:07:49
    • 2. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:08:01
    • 3. Lars Van Der Haar, (NED), 1:08:13
    • 4. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:09:03
    • 5. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:09:18
    • 6. Jens Adams, (BEL), 1:09:19
    • 7. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:09:25
    • 8. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:31
    • 9. Klaas Vantornout, (BEL), 1:09:38
    • 10. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:09:39
    • 11. Michael BoroŠ, (CZE), 1:09:39
    • 12. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:09:43
    • 13. Tom Meeusen, (BEL), 1:10:27
    • 14. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 1:11:16
    • 15. Ian Field, (GBR), 1:11:26
    • 16. Jonas Degroote, (BEL), 1:11:46
    • 17. Joeri Adams, (BEL), 1:11:52
    • 18. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL), 1:12:06
    • 19. Gosse Van Der Meer, (NED), 1:12:31
    • 20. Wietse Bosmans, (BEL), 1:13:03
    • 21. Philipp Walsleben, (GER), 1:13:39
    • 22. Jim Aernouts, (BEL), 1:13:55
    • 23. Nicolas Pruvost, (FRA), 1:14:32
    • 24. Julien Kaise, (BEL)
    • 25. Andrew Juiliano, (USA)
    • 26. Jelle De Bock, (BEL)
    • 27. Pascal Colaert, (BEL)
    • 28. Yu Takenouchi, (JPN)
    • 29. Michael Butler, (GBR)
    • 30. Alexander Forrester, (GBR)
    • 31. Felix Fuentes Sanchez, (ESP)
    • 32. Manuel Martin Jimenez, (ESP)