Jolien Verschueren solos to victory in Koppenbergcross

Jolien Verschueren rides to a strong solo victory in the Koppenbergcross

Jolien Verschueren (Telenet-Fidea) rode away with the Koppenbergcross at Oudenaarde on Sunday.

It was the second round of the Bpost Bank Trofee series.

Verschueren finished second to Pavla Havlikova (MRM-Avalon) in the opener in Ronse. While Verschueren tackled the second round of the series, Havlikova was racing (and winning) the Hittnau Cross in Switzerland.

Femke Van Den Driessche (Team Kleur Op Maat-Corpellets) finished second in Oudenaarde at 58 seconds with Nikki Harris (Telenet) third at 1:06.

“I’m incredibly happy. This is the most incredible victory of my career,” said Verschueren.

“A lot of my fans were here today. I had everything under control [during the race], but I had to pay attention in the last meters because a mistake or crash could cost the victory. I did enjoy the last lap because the fans were cheering so much.

“This is a big motivation boost for the European championships next week.”

Van Den Driessche said she was surprised to have performed so well on such a difficult course and hoped to hold onto her good form.

“This is a course where power plays a major role,” she said. “I made a lot of mistakes on the descent, but was able to hold second place.”

Harris said she gave it her best shot, but Verschueren was “just too strong on the climbs.”

“It’s a very hard course here,” she said. “I had the idea I could close a little bit of the gap on the descent, but on the climbs it was just too fast. I tried as hard as I could.”

A pair of champions missed the podium in Oudenaarde — British champ Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing) finished fourth ahead of Belgian champ Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP).

“Today was better than it was in Ronse,” said Cant. “But when you want to win here, you have to be in the best shape, and I’m not there yet. But it’s coming, I could feel it today. I’m working towards my best form.”

Race note

For a second consecutive year Twenty20 Cycling of Baltimore put up the cash to ensure equal prize money for the women in Oudenaarde.

Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report from Oudenaarde.