Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) has won the Koppenbergcross in Oudenaarde, Belgium, for the seventh consecutive time and his eighth win in this race in his career. The Belgian champion dominated from start to finish and won with a lead of over one minute on his compatriots Niels Albert and Kevin Pauwels. World champion Zdenek Stybar finished in fourth with Klaas Vantornout finishing in fifth. Gerben De Knegt, Bart Wellens, Bart Aernouts, Enrico Franzoi and Tom Meeusen completed the top 10. Stybar retains the overall lead in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee after two races.
Jonathan Page had the best start of all, but crashed in one of the slippery descents. Nys took over from there and the Belgian champion showed from then on that he was eager to take the win. Zdenek Stybar tried to hang on, but by the end of the lap Nys had a lead of five seconds.
Nys was on a very good day and extended his lead on his rivals on this tough and technical course lap by lap. His biggest challenger today was Niels Albert. Albert moved up after a bad start from 20th position to the second position, but wasn’t able to come any closer to Nys. Nys went from 15 seconds, to 32 seconds, to over one minute up turning into the final lap.
In the final lap Nys had to deal with bad luck and had to do almost half a lap on a flat tire before he could change bikes in the pit lane. Luckily for him, his lead was big enough that he didn’t need to panic.
“I am not worn out yet. I showed today that I’m still able to win races and to battle with the new generation. This win is very important for me. It’s like a World Championship,” said Nys. “After the first laps it worked out great for me, but I had to stay focused not to crash or to make any mistakes,” ended Nys. Kevin Pauwels was very happy with his performances this weekend: second in Zonhoven and third today. “This was a good weekend for me. I have shown that I made a big step forward in these races.”
Niels Albert had mixed feelings after the race. “Up to now, Stybar was always better, today it was Nys,” said Albert. “At first I tried to bridge up to Nys, but when I realized it was impossible I focused on the second place.”
World Champion Stybar, who showed the first hint of vulnerability this season after eight dominating wins, said he lost focus partly due to mechanical problems. “I had a good feeling,” he told reporters in a post-race interview, “but I just made too many mistakes in the second lap. I broke my shifter and had to do the downhill just with my front brake. So I lost a lot of time and concentration. But, anyway, I was just not strong enough to beat Nys, because he was really strong. I think it was possible to be on the podium if I hadn’t fallen, but I was just fourth, so I have to be happy that I’m still the leader of the GVA Trofee.”
Jonathan Page, meanwhile, said that while he was happy about his improving starts, he was still working to put together a complete race performance, finishing in 25th place. “I had a great start, and you have to start somewhere,” he joked. “I can start well, and I just took advantage of the line I had, tried to recover, and went up the hill fast. It’s just that after that, I’m not recovering quite as well as I’d hoped. When I figure that out, eventually I’ll come good again.”
Page, racing just a few kilometers from his home in Oudenaarde, explained that despite the Koppenberg’s familiarity for him, the race over the hill’s steep and storied cobbles was something special. “It’s pretty neat to be here, and the roar of the crowd on the first lap was incredible. That was great,” he said.
Adams takes first win of the season Joeri Adams (Rabobank) has finally won a race. The young Belgian soloed to an impressive victory in the U23 race of the Koppenberg. For Adams, it was his first win of the season and his first win since his Juniors period when he became World Champion in Hooglede-Gits. Vinnie Braet and Lars van der Haar completed the podium with Vincent Baestaens and Jim Aernouts in fourth and fifth place.
From the start Vincent Baestaens (Telenet-Fidea) took control of the race and created a gap of over 10 seconds on his closest rivals Joeri Adams, Vinnie Braet, Wietse Bosmans and Jim Aernouts.
In the second lap Adams broke clear from his compatriots and tried to bridge up to his compatriot. At first Adams didn’t get any closer and it looked like Baestaens was on his way to his first big win of the season. In the penultimate lap, Adams bridged up to a tired Baestaens and left him behind. Baestaens dropped back to a chasing group with Braet, Aernouts and Lars van der Haar.
In the final lap Adams consolidated his lead to take this prestigious win. Vinnie Braet was clearly the strongest of the chasing group and finished in second. In the sprint for third Van der Haar was faster than Baestaens and Aernouts.
Due to his win Adams is also the new overall leader in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee. Race leader Arnaud Jouffroy didn’t start due to a knee injury. “Finally,” said a happy Adams. “It was a long time ago that I was able to win a race; I thought I didn’t have it anymore. My start wasn’t that good and I had to chase behind Baestaens. At first I didn’t get any closer, but was able to close the gap after Vincent faltered.”