Sven Nys proves that he’s the undisputed Koning van de Koppenberg again
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sven Nys proves that he’s the undisputed Koning van de Koppenberg again

by Ben Atkins at 11:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
Ninth title for the Kannibaal of cyclocross; Helen Wyman takes her second in women’s race

sven nysSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) seized back the crown that was taken from him last year, as he proved once more that he is the Koning van der Koppenberg. After a race long mano a mano battle with Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), the Belgian champion rode away in the final lap to take an incredible ninth victory in the Koppenbergcross, the second round of the season-long bpost bank trofee (formerly the Gva Trofee).

World champion Albert comfortably managed to hold off the chasing group to finish second in the race for the third time, while Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) escaped the pack to take third. The previous year’s winner - and leader of the bpost bank trofee after his victory in Ronse the previous month - Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) was unable to match the pace of the other favourites, and slumped to a surprising 11th.

“In these conditions I’m can win here until the end of my career,” said Nys afterwards, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “This ‘cross really is made for me.

“With the strong wind that there was it wasn’t wise to try and ride away alone too early,” Nys explained, “so I saved my power for the final lap. All the way through the race I felt that I still had the strength to throw a bomb at the end.

“This is the most beautiful thing there is,” he said of the race that he has won every year but three since 2001. “I accelerated where everybody expected me to, and yet I was very relaxed for the whole race.

“I just won my personal Ronde van Vlaanderen,” he added. “This was my World championships.”

With Albert being the only rider that could stay with Nys on one of his favourite courses, Nys was asked if he was surprised.

“No,” he said. “This race doesn’t lie. In the last few races its clear that Niels and I were the strongest. I knew that together we’d be the only ones that could make the difference. Kevin Pauwels lost a lot of time today though, which I didn’t expect.”

Another sticky course sees the strongest riders get away

Despite recent heavy rain in the Oudenaarde/Melden area, the course was only a little muddy as the sun came out to dry the Flanders hillside. The sticky mud saw most riders change bikes at least once - sometimes twice - on virtually every lap however, while a late rain shower made a number of previously grippy corners slick.

Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) led up the Koppenberg for the first time, and on to the technical grassy section that followed. The field was strung out behind him around the early hairpins but, as he hit the course’s flatter section, Peeters began to try and edge away with teammate Tom Meeusen.

French champion Aurelien Duval eased past the two Telenet-Fidea riders however, with Albert right behind him. Across the line for the first time Meeusen, Peeters and a third Telenet-Fidea rider in Arnaud Jouffroy were a little way clear, with Duval, Pauwels and Albert. Nys was leading the chase group just a few seconds back however, and he soon bridged across to the front runners. Up the Koppenberg for the second time it was Peeters leading the way; Nys was right behind his former teammate this time however, and began to pull away on the grassy sections that followed.

Nys led across the Gazet van Antwerpen tussensprint - to take a 15-second bonus - with Albert and Pauwels following several seconds back; as he arrived at the finish line to end lap two, Nys was caught by Albert, Pauwels and Vantornout however. Despite the early pace set by Telenet-Fidea, none was able to stay with the leaders’ pace; the first chase group of Duval, Peeters, Meeusen, Bart Aernouts and Thijs van Amerongen (both AA and Swiss champion Julien Taramarcaz (BMC Racing) was 15 seconds back across the line, with groups spread out on the course behind them.

Nys began to turn the screw again, which put Vantornout in trouble, then Albert took over to make sure that the tall Sunweb-Revor rider couldn’t rejoin. Nys responded again on a steep uphill section, which saw him and Albert pull clear of Pauwels, who dropped back to Vantornout and the arriving Duval.

The World and Belgian champions continued to press home their advantage, as more riders began to join the chase group from behind; at the end of lap three, the two riders were 15 seconds clear, as Duval remonstrated over what he saw as a lacklustre chase from the other Belgians.

Nys piles on the pressure but Albert refuses to yield

Albert and Nys rode together around the first half of the course but, at the same point that he had despatched Pauwels on the previous lap, Nys accelerated again and managed to gap the World champion. The chasers were 33 seconds behind as they passed under the sprint point, as Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) pulled away in pursuit; Albert was refusing to let Nys go however, and the two of them were together again as they arrived on the finishing straight.

Wellens was pulled back by the chase group, and Pauwels found himself being dropped, but it was still 33 seconds behind the leading duo with four laps to go.

Nys attacked on the same point for a third time, and dropped Albert again. This time the Kannibaal had no intention of being caught but, as he changed his bike towards the end of the lap, Albert chose not to and they were together again with three to go.

42 seconds behind them the large chase group appeared to have given up.

Nys continued to apply the pressure to Albert on the Koppenberg and beyond, but the World champion was still refusing to yield. Instead of attacking at his usual place, Nys allowed Albert to lead up the short climb; as Albert called in at the pits though, Nys accelerated past and opened up yet another gap.

As Nys pulled away the clouds opened and heavy rain began to fall on the race. The conditions changed almost immediately, as Meeusen and Twan van den Brand (Orange Babies) both slipped off as the previously sticky mud became slick. Vantornout managed to tear himself clear of the group, but was being pursued by Duval and Peeters.

Nys attacked again at his usual spot and, although he managed to open a gap again, Albert clawed him back for the umpteenth time. The two of them took the bell together but, as Albert struggled in a paricularly slippery flat section, Nys escaped yet again. The World champion clawed his way back up to Nys’ wheel on the Koppenberg but, as the Belgian champion kept the pressure on he was unable to stay with him.

Albert almost managed to regain Nys’ wheel but the undisputed King of the Koppenberg put in his most devastating attack so far on the short climb to where the tussensprint had been and the World champion finally cracked. By the time he reached the top, and passed under the barrier, Nys was almost 15 seconds clear and riding away to victory.

Gritting his teeth, Nys was still powering away up ahead, but Albert now seemed resigned to second place. Pulling into the finishing straight, Nys was already celebrating but, uncharacteristically, didn’t count his victories on his fingers as he pointed to the sky with both hands.

Albert followed him over after 14 seconds, with Vantornout more than a minute back ahead of Duval and Wellens.

With Pauwels finishing so far behind, the World champion took over the overall lead in the bpost bank trofee, which was decided on accumulated time for the first time.

Helen Wyman is Queen of the Koppenberg for the second time

helen wymanBritish champion Helen Wyman (Kona) repeated her 2010 victory to take her second cobblestone trophy in the women’s race. The Oudenaarde resident, revelling in the conditions of her local race, managed to outsprint compatriot Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) - who continued her best ever start to the season - at the end of the 40 minute race.

Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) was the best of the rest to take third place behind the two British riders.

A fast start had seen a group pull away from the rest of the field, but Wyman and Harris were soon able to escape on the sticky course. Together they managed to open up a decisive lead over the rest until, on the final lap, Wyman managed to pull a little clear on the Koppenberg climb. Harris managed to fight her way back up to Wyman on the second half of the course, but had no answer to the British champion’s sprint as they arrived at the line together.

Result Elite Men
1. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony
2. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
3. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
4. Aurelien Duval (Fra)
5. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
7. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA
8. Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Racing Team
9. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA
10. Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team

Result Elite Women
1. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
2. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
3. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
4. Sophie de Boer (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
5. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) RusVelo
6. Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus
7. Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team
8. Ellen van Loy (Bel) Kriekel Cycling Team Tessenderlo
9. Amy Dombroski (USA) Telenet-Fidea
10. Arenda Grimberg (Ned)


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