Report: Wyman on top at Koppenberg Cross


Britain’s Helen Wyman wins classic ‘cross at in Belgium, the Koppenberg Cross. Paul Burgoine reports

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Paul Burgoine writes .. The Koppenberg Cross and Kokslide have to be the two races that people should experience at least once, the Koppenberg better known as one of the famed climbs in the Tour of Flanders becomes the focal point of the race as it weaves its way up and down the grassy banks of the hill.


Helen raises the cobblestone  into the air after winning at Koppenburg. Nikki Harris is on the right. Photo

This race is usually plagued with mud and this year was supposed to be the same but the course had dried out during the past few days apart from one boggy section after the start finish, making for some fast racing.

GB were well represented in the women’s race headed up by last year’s winner Helen Wyman (Kona) and Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea) along with Gabby Durrin (Rapha) and Delia Beddis and Claire Beaumont (Vicious Velo).

Wyman hit the front from the gun taking Belgium Champion Sanne Cant (BKCP) and Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea) with her. Wyman never really looked in danger from where I watched maintaining her lead over Cant although the Belgium champion did suffer a puncture on the second lap that held her up a bit. Harris never seemed to get on terms with the two leaders and the race finished as it started with Wyman winning the cobble trophy for the third time from Cant with British Champion Harris still maintaining the overall lead in the BPost Bank Trofee Competition.



I caught up with Helen after the podium and she spoke about her race “We came here on Wednesday to train and the course was a lot slippery. Today, it had dried out so the race lines were much faster, so I tried hard in the places I knew I could and hoped it would make a difference. The descents were far easier in the dry so I could maintain the gaps.”

I think Sanne had a puncture but she was so fast she never lost much time. Nikki did ride up to us but I felt I could go faster so attacked again. I knew if I put in the effort up the hill, I could recover on the decent and it was only four laps so I could make two big efforts up there”.

You have made this race your own over the years – is it because it is your local race? “I’m not sure. It’s a real hard course that finds people out. You have to be at your strongest. It’s not made for people to come and ride tactically as its simple. If you are riding best on the day, you will win the race”.


Nikki Harris. Photo

Nikki is in great form as well, what made the difference today? “I think I am pretty fresh and even though the Euros aren’t one of my main aims this year, I want to be in the best condition so I can to go and defend my title. So I have come to this race feeling relatively fresh. The home race thing didn’t seem to work out as everyone was cheering for Sanne the whole way round except for when I was alone!”

Men’s Race
The men’s race was in my opinion one of the most exciting I have ever seen, mainly because on the first lap, the commentator announced that Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) was leading the race. I have never heard Ian’s name mentioned so many times and to see him come past us on the front was a special moment.


Ian Field leads. Photo

The commentators words were “something special is going on here”. On the second lap, there was a group of three including Field, Rob Peeters (Telenet Fidea) and one other. As the race progressed, a group of ten joined forces and put a gap between themselves and Field but he was still holding on to twelfth place. Unluckily for Ian, he punctured at the bottom of the hill and eventually finished thirteenth. Still an unbelievable result, to see Ian mixing it up with the best in the world was a special moment.

I spoke with Ian after his race. A huge start today Ian? “Yes, I knew if I could get a good start, I would get a result because my legs felt so good coming out of two World Cups and having two top twenty positions, I knew my form was good. I punctured with two to go and lost the group going for the top ten which was disappointing but the first two laps were a dream.”


Tough race for Ian after puncturing.

“I thought to myself, I am leading the Koppenberg! I think anybody that has seen me race recently, knew that I was going well this year. I have stepped it up. There are no secrets just hard work. I didn’t race in the USA so I feel a lot fresher and I have a new coach through Dig Deep Coaching and I am very focused. I think I had lost a bit of self believe, but the people around me now have reinstalled my confidence and everyone believes in me and it’s made a great difference”.

Tom Meeusen (Telenet Fidea) won in a blistering sprint finish from Kevin Pawels (Sunweb Napolean Games) and Klaas Vantournout (Sunwed) but it was all about the British riders for me some fantastic performances.

1. Helen Wyman Kona 0:34:24
2. Sanne Cant Enertherm – BKCP 0:00:08
3. Nikki Harris VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:18

8. Gabriella Durrin 0:01:52
20. Delia Beddis 0:05:37
30. Claire Smith 0:08:25
31. Claire Beaumont 0:08:35

1. Tom Meeusen Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:59:06
2. Kevin Pauwels Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:00:02
3. Klaas Vantornout Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:00:05

13. Ian Field Hargroves Cycles 0:01:19

Under 23
1. Laurens Sweeck Landbouwkrediet-KDL 0:45:16
2. Wout Van Aert Telenet Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:28
3. Mathieu Van Der (Ned) Enertherm – BKCP 0:00:31

29. Luke Gray 0:06:41



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