The Koppenbergcross was the last race at the highest level for two riders. Both Christel Ferrier-Brunea (Faren-Kuota) and Jan Denuwelaere (Style & Concept) concluded their career at the famous Flemish cobbled climb.
For 34-year-old French rider Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, the Koppenbergcross concluded a cycling career of nine years. Despite showing great form in the last couple of cyclo-cross races, she decided the Koppenbergcross would be her last race. “First I wanted to end with the road world championships in Firenze but I left the race ill in an ambulance. So I decided to add some ‘cross racing to conclude my career,” Ferrier-Bruneau said.
“I wanted to retire at the European championships next weekend but the French coach decided to send only one rider. After this weekend it’s a long time before there’s another big race and the sand of Koksijde isn’t my thing. That’s why I chose the Koppenbergcross. I’ve never done it in the past.”
“It’s too bad that I wasn’t able to get on the podium. I realized that three others were stronger than me. It was hard to deal with that but I went to the limit. That’s also why I crashed at the end of the second lap. I wasn’t lucid enough,” Ferrier-Bruneau continued. The Béziers-located rider will now happily stay home as she had enough of all the travelling: “It’s time for my family, and time to start a family.”
Ferrier-Bruneau refers to her two French titles on the road in 2009 and 2011 as career highlights. “Riding in Beijing was a highlight too, finishing thirteenth. In cyclo-cross the world championships in Treviso come to my mind. I led the race with Hanka Kupfernagel. On the last lap Marianne Vos and Laurence Leboucher overtook me and I fell off the podium.”
On November 11, Ferrier-Bruneau will be celebrated in her home town Béziers where a weekend of racing is organized to conclude her cycling career.
In the Elite Men's category there was a much younger rider who stepped away from cyclo-cross with Jan Denuwelaere's decision to retire coming as a big surprise. Only last year the likeable Belgian won a much-discussed round of the Bpost Bank cyclo-cross series in Essen. In that race, Denuwelaere showed he excelled in muddy races and in the sprint he was taken down by Zdenek Stybar, but was awarded victory following the relegation of the Czech rider. His two other wins came in Bredene (2012) and Zonnebeke (2009).
“Last year I already noticed that I wasn’t enjoying my life as a professional rider as I was supposed to do. During training camps, I noticed most other riders are passionate about the bike and that’s what I’m lacking. I’m crazy about many other things, as long as it’s fun. It’s not necessary physical but more technical,” Denuwelaere said on Sporza. The 25 year-old Belgian always struggled to crack the Belgian selection for the World Cups, and thus was always being forced to start his races from a back-row position. Denuwelaere has a background in motorbike racing.
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