By Brecht Decaluwé
When Cyclingnews caught up with David Kopp at the team bus the Cycle-Collstrop rider looked devastated by his defeat in the final stretches of the E3 Prijs Harelbeke, during which Kurt-Asle Arvesen overtook the German. It's not the first time Kopp came short of the victory in Harelbeke. He finished fourth in 2005, when Tom Boonen won for the second time.
"A second place isn't too bad, since I didn't expect such a good result before the race although losing out on the victory with 100m to go is disappointing," Kopp said while shaking his head. Nevertheless it gave me a good feeling to see that the three strongest guys were on the podium in the end."
With 36km to go Kopp's race seemed to be over when he was quickly dropped from the leading group on the cobbles of the famous Oude Kwaremont climb. "I didn't feel comfortable on the cobbles today. I think there was a little too much pressure on my tyres. On the other hand it gave me an advantage during the latter stages of the race as I knew the Tiegemberg was asphalted," Kopp explained why he got dropped on the 2,200m long Oude Kwaremont climb.
With 3km to go Kopp accelerated away from the six-man leading group and he quickly gathered a good gap. "Actually I didn't want to attack, but the others apparently dropped their speed when I went to the front," Kopp said. "Anyway, Arvesen deserved it, he was very strong. I focused on Van Avermaet on the climb because I was sure he would attack again."
When asked about what went through his mind when he heard that Boonen and Cancellara launched a counter-attack, Kopp wanted to point out that the strongest group was riding in front of the race. "Actually we had a very good group. Everybody seemed to be in a very good condition and that's why we were able to stay in front."
It's that time of the year again, when the big races following upon each other very quickly. Kopp hopes to do well in all of them. "I hope I can be with Steffen [Wesemann] in Flanders and Roubaix, and Gent-Wevelgem as well of course," Kopp smiled as he probably thought back to his great performance there. The German finished second in Gent-Wevelgem in 2006, just in front of Alessandro Petacchi but behind Thor Hushovd.