The iconic Koppenbergcross runs this year on Monday, November 1st, kicking off the 2021 X²O Badkamers Trofee. This one is a popular destination due to taking place on a Belgian national holiday (All Saints' Day) - what could be better than cyclocross on a day off work?
That happens to be the day after the Overrijse World Cup, part of the expanded World Cup series for 2021/22, so it will be interesting to see which riders do both events or focus on one or the other. If you've been living under a rock, here's how to stream the World Cups.
What is the Koppenbergcross?
The Koppenbergcross is a cyclocross race adjacent to, and including, the Koppenberg cobbled climb, made famous through use in Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen). Riders must ascend it each lap of the race.
For the 2021 season, the Koppenbergcross is the start of the X²O Badkamers Trofee series (if that doesn't sound familiar, this is the series known formerly as the DVV Trophy, BPost Bank Trophy, and Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee) - same series, new sponsor.
Unlike some other series which are based on points given for finishing order, in the X²O Badkamers rankings are based on total time, so every second counts. Pay special attention to the finishing gaps on the final climb, which will form the basis for the overall standings.
Who was Jolien Verschueren?
Julien Verschueren was a a Belgian 'cross racer, who passed away earlier in 2021 from a brain tumor at the age of just 31. Following two wins at Koppenbergcross earlier in her career, Verschueren underwent successful surgery to remove a tumor. Amazingly, she continued to race and train during treatment, even returning to racing prior to the pandemic, before ultimately succumbing to the brain cancer this year.
Verschueren was a slight, diminutive rider with a physique ideally suited for the challenging Koppenberg climb. In photos and videos taken throughout her racing career, her handlebar seems to be wider than she herself was!
Like many others in the women's elite field, she relied on a career outside of professional cyclocross, in her case, as a schoolteacher. In the ultimate tribute to Verschueren, the Koppenbergcross promoter announced that the race would be renamed as the Grand Prix Jolien Verschueren in her honor.
How to stream Koppenbergcross 2021
For readers in the USA, GCN+ (Race Pass) includes the Koppenbergcross and other X²O Badkamers Trofee series events as part of their subscription.
Previous winners of the Koppenbergcross
The riders who have conquered the Koppenberg reads like a who's who of cyclocross legends: Sven Nys won 9 TIMES in a 12 year span, including 7 in a row, completely owning the elite field for more than a decade. More recently, Wout van Aert took 3 in a row here, and Helen Wyman won four times. The aforementioned Verschueren, won in 2015 and 2016, prior to her illness.