Van Aert wins Koppenbergcross in Oudenaarde

Pauwels, Van der Haar round out podium

World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) crushed the opposition Tuesday afternoon at Koppenbergcross, the second round of the DVV Trophy.

The 22 year-old Belgian rider completed a long solo ride on the famous climb to the finish. Despite the redesigned course, the podium was the same as last year, featuring Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) in second and Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) in third. The climbing course in Oudenaarde clearly suits Van Aert, who lifted the cobble-trophy for the third year in a row.

When crossing the line Van Aert showed off his happiness with moves that resembled to the Hulk. "It’s the first race where the real Wout is back," Van Aert told Sporza. "I was able to accelerate when I wanted to do so." 

Thanks to his bonus of half a minute over Pauwels at the finish, and the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, Van Aert strengthens his lead in the overall time-based classification of the DVV Trophy. After only two rounds, Van Aert is now nearly two minutes ahead of Pauwels.

Despite his win, the redesigned course wasn’t much to the liking of Van Aert.

"It’s good for once. It’s not good for the bodies." he said. "If it would’ve been half as hard you would get the same result. There’s always other races too. It would be good if organizers would take us into account. I don’t want to sound negative. It’s just my opinion and hopefully we’ll get back to the old course."

Just before the race there was a minute of silence in memory of race organizer and cycling journalist Luc Lamon who passed away last summer. During the first laps of the race Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) and fresh European champion Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) were setting the pace.

From the second lap on, Van Aert moved forward while his arch rival, Mathieu van der Poel, was struggling to find his rhythm. Already at the end of the second lap Van Aert was up the road with veteran Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and an impressive Toon Aerts. During the third lap, Kevin Pauwels, Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games), Van der Haar and Van der Poel bridged back up to the three leaders.

Every lap Van Aert continued to set the pace throughout the course that kept going up and down the Koppenberg over the cobbles and bumpy meadows. It turned out that the others were slowly running out of gas. Van der Poel was the first to throw in the towel at the end of the fourth lap. He quickly lost a lot of ground and eventually finished in a distant 15th at nearly four minutes off winner Van Aert.

"Hopefully this was an off-day," Van der Poel told Sporza. "It didn’t work at all. I was already blowing up my engine while trying to keep up with the pace. I didn’t see this one coming. I thought I was more constant than last year. Hopefully I’ll be back on form next weekend."

Also Kevin Pauwels and Lars van der Haar were quickly dropped managed to keep going. The Marlux-duo Vantornout and Vanthourenhout was dropped a few moments later on the cobbles towards the finish.

It only left Van Aert and Aerts in front, the world champion and the European champion. It wasn’t for long. During the fifth of nine laps Van Aert repeated his acceleration on the tough last part of the course. Aerts bowed his and looked back, knowing he wasn’t going to come back on Van Aert. The latter explained his tactics.

"It’s not that I was attacking there," Van Aert said. "Every lap I was riding at my own pace. It was a matter of grabbing hold of the pain, embrace it and complete the hour. Every lap at the pits it hurt the most because there’s another bit of cobbles after it in contrast to previous years. Luckily there was a bit of asphalt after it to recover, otherwise you die."

Meanwhile, a large group rode together behind the front duo. The group featured Marlux-riders Pauwels, Vantornout,Vanthourenhout and also Van der Haar, Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), Jens Adams (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and Michael Boros(ERA-Circus).

While Van Aert continued to impress in front, the fight for the remaining podium spots was on. Aerts was caught back in the seventh lap due to the pace set by a strong Jens Adams.

During the penultimate lap, Adams crashed on an asphalted descent, losing sight of a podium result. Vantornout, Vanthourenhout, Pauwels, Van der Haar and Aerts remained in contention. Just before hitting the final lap, Pauwels fiercely powered away.

"In the second lap I was suffering," Pauwels said. "In the third lap they rode away. You’re just riding at your own pace and in the end you’re at your spot. I was too far when he attacked but I didn’t have anything to react."

Only Van der Haar had a reaction but he was never able to get back on Pauwels' wheel.

"I suffered big time," Van der Haar said. "That’s all. I’m satisfied with the result. It’s moral-boosting. I saved as much as possible in the first half of the race. It was a big group. It was a matter of not reacting on the accelerations because I lack those. and exploiting my light weight and watts per kilogram. I was unable to keep up with Kevin, but I’m glad to be on the podium."

Van Aert eased off at the end of the race but still had half a minute over Pauwels and Van der Haar. Aerts distanced Vantornout and Vanthourenhout in the final lap.

In the general classification, Van Aert is in a comfortable position, leading runner-up Pauwels by 1:52. Michael Vanthourenhout is third at two minutes. Van der Haar, Aerts, Adams and Vantornout follow at a short distance, all at less than three minutes of Van Aert.
Van Aert defends his lead at the third round of the DVV Trophy in Hamme on November 27.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice1:03:08 
2Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:00:29 
3Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:34 
4Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:00:46 
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:00:56 
6Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:01:04 
7Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:01:14 
8Jens Adams (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice0:01:18 
9Laurens Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus0:01:34 
10Michael Boros (Cze) ERA-Circus0:01:44 
11Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Beobank-Corendon0:02:06 
12Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:02:13 
13Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games0:03:07 
14Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:03:12 
15Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:03:51 
16Joeri Adams (Bel) Kalas-NNOF0:04:01 
17Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Team Steylaerts0:04:11 
18Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles Race Team0:04:24 
19Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:04:31 
20Diether Sweeck (Bel) ERA-Circus0:05:07 
21Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:05:16 
22Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:05:29 
23David Van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon0:06:10 
24Mariusz Gil (Pol)0:06:14 
25Vinnie Braet (Bel)0:06:29 
26Quincy Vens (Bel)0:06:35 
27Yu Takenouchi (Chn)0:07:09 

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