For the second year in a row Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet-Fidea) won the Koppenbergcross, the 26-year-old coming out on top after a race-long battle with world champion Thalita de Jong on the famous climb.
The duo headed for an uphill cobbled sprint and that’s where De Jong bowed her head. Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) was third at a massive distance of 1:44. De Jong remains leader in the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy after two rounds.
"I'm super happy with this victory. It was a bit of a revenge for the European Championships. The support of the crowd was tremendous. My ears are still hurting. It was unbelievable. It's magnificent to be supported in such a way," Verschueren told Sporza.
Early on De Jong led the way around the redesigned course in Oudenaarde. The world champion gapped her rivals and picked up the 15 bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint in the second lap. Only Verschueren was able to bridge back up to the world champion. Lean Verschueren was setting the pace uphill, trying to shake off De Jong. The latter stayed close to Verschueren's back wheel and in the descents she took the initiative, often distancing Verschueren by a couple of metres. The situation remained the same throughout the race with none of the two riders able to distance the other.
When heading into the final corners De Jong tried to keep Verschueren off the front position but the light Belgian rider was able to pass her before hitting the final cobbled section to the finish. Only at 100 metres from the finish line did De Jong crack and quickly saw Verschueren getting even smaller than she normally is. An ecstatic Verschueren screamed out her joy while hopping her bike and clenching a fist.
De Jong didn’t push on and crossed the finish line with a wave to the crowd at 11 seconds from winner Verschueren. "Thalita was much better than me in the descents but uphill I always managed to come back on her. I tried to make the race harder on the uphill sections. It was mentally hard because she didn’t drop off my wheel. I kept going. These races with a lot of climbing suit me well," Verschueren said.
World champion De Jong wasn't too disappointed.
"Absolutely not," she told Sporza. "It was great fun thanks to the crowd. They spur you on. I knew Jolien is very strong uphill. I was glad that I was able to respond to many of her accelerations and only let her go on that final bit. It was a good race," De Jong said.
The rest of the field was fighting for the remaining podium spot at a respectable distance of the duo. Sophie de Boer battled with Christine Majerus, having Sanne Cant and Alicia Franck at short distance. Cant was yoyoing between the duo De Boer and Franck. At the finish it became clear that De Boer had most left in her tank, distancing Majerus and Cant. Maud Kaptheijns, Ellen Van Loy, Nikola Noskova and Geerte Hoeke were closing out the top-10, the latter finishing at just over four minutes from Verschueren on the climber’s course.
In the time-based overall classification De Jong remains in the lead, keeping a lead of 45 seconds on Verschueren. De Boer is third overall at 2:28, just ahead of Cant who’s at 2:39. With a gap of 4:11, fifth-placed Kaptheijns is already at quite a distance from De Jong. Former winner Helen Wyman (Kona) didn't take the start in Oudenaarde after breaking her collarbone at the European Championships in Pont-Château on Sunday. Compatriot Nikki Brammeier was involved in the same crash and also skipped the Koppenbergcross.
The next round in the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy is held in Hamme on November 27th.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jolien Verschueren (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:48:16|
|2||Thalita De Jong (Ned) Rabobank-Liv||0:00:11|
|3||Sophie De Boer (Ned) Kalas-NNOF||0:01:44|
|4||Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans||0:01:55|
|5||Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank||0:02:03|
|6||Alicia Franck (Bel)||0:02:16|
|7||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Team Steylaerts||0:02:55|
|8||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:03:15|
|9||Nikola Noskova (Cze) AA Drink-Kalas||0:03:30|
|10||Geerte Hoeke (Ned)||0:04:04|
|11||Pavla Havlikova (Cze) MRM Avalon Pro Cycling||0:04:21|
|12||Elle Anderson (USA)||0:04:28|
|13||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Lares-WoawDeals||0:04:35|
|14||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas||0:05:04|
|15||Kim Van De Steene (Bel)||0:05:46|
|16||Nikola Bajgerova (Bel)||0:06:16|
|17||Pauline Delhaye (Fra)||0:06:20|
|18||Githa Michiels (Bel)||0:06:24|
|19||Lindy Van Anrooij (Ned)||0:06:35|
|20||Bianca Van Den Hoek (Ned)||0:06:36|
|21||Bethany Crumpton (GBr)||0:06:53|
|22||Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe)||0:07:53|
|23||Senna Feron (Ned)||0:08:09|