Winner Van Paassen © Patricia Cristens

Women's race winner Van Paassen © Patricia Cristen

Today was Koppenbergcross, every Belgian’s favorite Tuesday, and it saw Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) take the honors in the men’s race while Sunday’s Superprestige winner Saane van Paassen (Brainwash) triumphed in the women’s.

With over 20,000 spectators in the crowd, this is one of the biggest races of the year.

Pauwels denied Mr. Koppenberg himself, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), who scored an incredible ninth victory in the event. Pauwels attacked Nys and World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) with three laps to go and, despite flagging in the final lap, held on for the win. Nys crossed the line in second and Stybar saw off a late challenge from Rabobank-Giant’s Bart Aernouts.

Our European coorespondent Christine Vardaros filled us in on the men’s race:

In the men’s race, it started to rain during the second half, causing many of the riders to jump into the pits for their mud tires. Those who waited to long felt it dearly in the greasy descent.

Jonathan Page crashed in the first round in the bumpy offroad section just after the infamous cobbled Koppenberg climb. On such a fast couse without the usual foot of mud to contest with, it is nearly impossible to get back much time unless you are in perfect form, something that should usually grace Page with its presence later in the season. He plans to come to US Nationals now that it is in January, at the same time as all the other countries. No matter his results, his yearly post-Koppenberg party was fully intact as his mobile home was surrounded by a large collection of his supporters.

In the women’s race, British Champion Helen Wyman (Kona) couldn’t match the dominant Van Paassen and finished behind the Dutch powerhouse. Zondhoven’s ‘first loser’ Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea) crossed the line in third.

As for Vardaros, “I spent the first half riding around like a cyclo-tourist, but in the second half my body magically came alive and I started to pass little groups.  But while in the middle of my hunt, my chain fell off due to the extemely bumpy terrain and was caught and kept by my chain catcher. It took me a full minute to release it. So late in the race, a mechanical like that is a kiss of death.”

Koppenbergcross was the first in the GVA Trofee Series race, making Van Paassen the first woman on the leaderboard, followed by Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris. On the men’s side, the top spot is held by Kevin Pauwels, followed by Sven Nys and Zdenek Stybar.

Men’s Results

1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
2. Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick Step
4. Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant
5. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
6. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
7. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
8. Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus
9. Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
10. Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea

Women’s Results

1. Sanne Van Paassen (Ned) Brainwash Wielerploeg
2. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
3. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
4. Van den Brand (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl
5. Sanne Cant (Bel) Boxx Veldritacademie
6. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Brainwash Wielerploeg
7. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Telenet-Fidea
8. Gabriella Day (GBr) The Chainstay
9. Amy Dombrowski (USA) Crank Brothers
10. Arenda Grimberg (Ned)

U23 Results

1. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Rabo/Giant Offroad Team
2.Vinnie Braet (Bel) Sunweb Revor
3. Jan Nesvadba (Cze) Madeta/Fitness / Specialized
4. Micki Van Empel (Ned) Telenet-Fidea
5. Jens Adams (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
6. Arnaud Grand (Swi) Telenet-Fidea
7. Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb-Revor
8. Vojtech Nipl (Cze) TJ Stadion Louny
9. Stan Godrie (Ned)
10. Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team