The Koppenbergcross took place in Belgium yesterday, and saw some of the cycling world elites take on the infamous Koppenberg slopes. Despite the mud leaving conditions sub-optimal, both competitors in the men and women’s races were able to finish the track with exceptional times, with Eli Iserbyt and Clara Honsinger coming out on top.
Koppenbergcross’ Iconic Track
With its inaugural race commencing in 1988, the Koppenbergcross has made a name for itself as one of Belgium’s most compelling and challenging races. Using the famous Koppenberg climb that has been a frequent staple in the Tour de Flanders course, riders are challenged to make several laps around the cyclo-cross course, pusing their equipment and cycling skills to the limit. As described on their website;
Difficult slopes and spectacular descents follow each other in rapid succession, with a bit of recuperation here and there. Clear for the supporters and a guarantee of an impressive match!
The Elite Women’s edition commenced its first race in 2002, almost 20 years ago. This is significant, considering many professional racing competitions did not or had only recently introduced womens racing into their line-up, such as the Paris-Roubaix Femmes, which only had its inaugural race this year.
Both races have had many well known racers compete across the difficult course, with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel being just two of the famous faces to hold the title of Mens Koppenbergcross champion, owning the three time 2014- 2016, and 2017 first places respectively.
Eli Iserbyt Conquers Kopperbergcross With Third Victory
Belgium’s Eli Iserbyt is now another famous racer to hold the winning title, grabbing his third consecutive win on Monday. Defeating the slippery cobbes and muddy conditions allowed Iserbyt to come out on top, taking the lead by a whole 24 seconds. His win was certainly a comfortable one, and proof of Iserbyt’s prowess on the Koppenbergcross track.
Second place in this year’s race went to Toon Aerts, with a time of 1:03:06, and Lars Van Der Haar, who clocked in with a perfect time of 1:04:00. Both decorated athletes, Iserbyt’s victory was by no means guaranteed, especially against Aerts, who was himself the 2018 first place winner on the Koppenberg track.
Clara Honsinger Wins on Newly Named G.P Jolien Verschueren Track
The Koppenbergcross Elite Women’s match was won by the USA’s Clara Honsinger, being a whole 12 seconds ahead of her second place counterpart.
Renamed the G.P. Jolien Verschueren in this year’s edition, the 17th edition of the race was dedicated to 2015 and 2016 Koppenbergcross Elite Women’s winner Jolien Verschueren, who passed away this summer. At only 31 years old, this is a touching tribute to a phenomenal racer whose career was cut tragically short, and who had done so much to put the women’s Koppenbergcross on the map.
It was in this now name honoured race that Honsinger was able to defeat the competition, a surprising and impressive win, considering this was her first time on the track. A multi-time winner at the United States National Cyclo-cross, Honsinger came in to the race already a decorated athlete. However, she has had little in the way of winnings on European soil so far in her career, but with this win it can only be hoped for that she continues competing in these world famous courses.
Honsinger seized victory against second place winner Denise Betsema, who came in with a final time of 0:51:19, and third place champion Blanka Vas Kata, who crossed the finish line at 0:51:42. Both putting in spectacular performances, these cyclists were able to endure the challenges set by the muddy slopes, and made the first G.P Jolien Verchueren one to remember.
Verschueren’s sister, Jolisa, also competed in this year’s race, in honour of her sister and the course now in her name.