It is probably kind of silly to throw it back to something that happened six days ago, but with the return of Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon – Circus) at Superprestige Ruddervoorde on Sunday, Friday’s classic on the Koppenberg got lost a bit in the weekend shuffle.
The annual November 1 Koppenbergcross held on the Belgian holiday of All Saints Day has long been considered a classic on the European cyclocross calendar thanks in part to the role the hill outside Oudenaarde plays in the Ronde van Vlaanderen road race. Even with rain helping produce a course that was slick and treacherous on the descents, the party vibe appeared to be strong with the Friday race providing a perfect runway into the weekend.
With the steep climb up the cobbled hill each lap, the unique nature of the Koppenberg has helped produce some unexpected winners in past years. Kim Van de Steene (Tarteletto – Isorex) won last year’s Elite Women’s race, Jolien Verschueren (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) is a two-time winner and Mr. Bunny Hop himself Tom Meeusen (Corendon – Circus) won the race back in 2013.
The Koppenbergcross has seen some memorable battles in the Elite Women’s races in recent years, with Verschueren outdueling then-world-champ Thalita De Jong in 2016 and Helen Wyman topping Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) in 2017.
Friday’s toast of the hill, Yara Kastelijn (777), decided there would be no time for an epic battle at the front of the Elite Women’s race. She took control early and did not look back en route to taking her second-straight big win after she won the Sunday prior at Superprestige Gavere.
The two wins were the two biggest of the young Elite career of the Dutch woman helping take cyclocross by storm this season.
Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) continued her strong start to her European campaign with a fifth-place finish in the first Koppenbergcross of her career.
The Elite Men’s season prior to the arrival of Van der Poel was defined by Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal). The young Belgian rolled to three World Cup wins and six overall entering last Friday’s race. On Friday, he got the chance for a little Bogense U23 Worlds revenge when Tom Pidcock (Trinity Racing) overcame a slow start and joined Iserbyt at the front of the race.
Iserbyt dropped his rival Pidcock, but a mechanical with two laps to go allowed Pidcock back in the game.
Iserbyt dropped Pidcock again and climbed the Koppenberg to take his seventh win of the season thus far.
For a full flashback to last Friday, check out the full photo gallery from Bart Hazen below.
Photo Gallery: 2019 Koppenbergcross