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Toon Aerts wins Koppenbergcross

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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert at the finish of Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert at the finish of Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert on the Koppenbergcross podium

Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert on the Koppenbergcross podium (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts hoists his 2018 Koppenbergcross trophy

Toon Aerts hoists his 2018 Koppenbergcross trophy (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts rides to victory at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts rides to victory at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert on the Koppenbergcross podium

Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts and Wout Van Aert on the Koppenbergcross podium (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts at the front of the lead group in Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts at the front of the lead group in Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Wout Van Aert rides in the front at Koppenbergcross

Wout Van Aert rides in the front at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross

The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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The elite men climb the Koppenberg at Koppenbergcross

The elite men climb the Koppenberg at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross

The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross

The elite men get underway at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solution Credits) during the 29th Koppenbergcross

Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solution Credits) during the 29th Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solution Credits) during the 29th Koppenbergcross

Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis Solution Credits) during the 29th Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Kevin Pauwels (Marlux - Bingoal Cycling Team) during the 29th Koppenbergcross

Kevin Pauwels (Marlux - Bingoal Cycling Team) during the 29th Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Mathieu van der Poel had an off day at Koppenbergcross

Mathieu van der Poel had an off day at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Wout Van Aert pushes the pacet at Koppenbergcross

Wout Van Aert pushes the pacet at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Mathieu van der Poel at Koppenbergcross

Mathieu van der Poel at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross

Toon Aerts celebrates his win at Koppenbergcross (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions) triumphed on the legendary climb of the Koppenberg, winning the first round of the 2018-19 DVV Trofee in Oudenaarde. Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) took second place, 11 seconds back, while world champion Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon) finished 14 seconds down in third.

It's Aerts' third major victory of the cyclo-cross season, having also won the opening rounds of the UCI World Cup at Waterloo, Wisconsin and Iowa City, Iowa. The Belgian was part of the elite lead group all race, pushing away from his two companions on the final climb of the Koppenberg to take the win.

The race was also notable for a surprisingly off-performance from Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), who started slow before crashing out of the lead group. He ultimately finished in 21st place, 4:12 behind Aerts.

How it happened

All the focus early on was on Van der Poel, who didn't get off to the best start. Still, he maintained contact with the lead group in the opening laps, albeit riding at the rear. With everybody riding hard to try and put him into trouble, disaster struck on the second lap as the Dutchman went down on an off-camber corner. His race wasn't over but it was an indication of what was to come.

By the time the riders tackled the Koppenberg for the second time, a clear elite leader's group had emerged. Up front it was Van Aert and Aerts, with Vanthourenhout close behind. Daan Soete (Pawels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Eli Iserbyt (Marlux-Bingoal) lead the chase ahead of Van der Poel, 16 seconds back.

That would be the closest Van der Poel got to the leaders though. The European champion was clearly not on his best form just two days ahead of the European Championships in his home country of the Netherlands.

Up front, the lead trio swapped places as each surged on various parts of the course, but there was no separating them as they approached the midway point. Vanthourenhout did look a touch slower up the 12 per cent cobbles of the Koppenberg, though.

Just over 30 seconds back, Van der Poel became detached from the chasers, dropping back as Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea Lions), Iserbyt and Hermans pushed on. Van Aert was pushing the pace at the head of the race, keen to keep his group away for good.

Heading into the final lap, it was Aerts who looked the strongest, leading up the Koppenberg and over the line, with Van Aert close behind and Vanthourenhout six seconds back.

The trio regrouped on the last lap though, with Vanthourenhout even putting in an attack that dropped Van Aert at one point. In the end it all came down to the Koppenberg, with Aerts powering away to take the victory. Van Aert charged up the climb too, but couldn't make it back to Vanthourenhout for second place.

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Toon Aerts (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions1:02:26
2Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal Cycling Team0:00:11
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Cibel-Cebon0:00:14
4Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions0:00:58
5Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:01:18
6Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice0:01:25
7Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal Cycling Team0:01:38
8Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal Cycling Team0:01:52
9Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice0:02:00
10Daan Soete (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice0:02:32

 

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