The Kopp

02Sep09

Koppenberg.

Aside from being a famously brutal, race making climb in euro spring classic  Ronde van Vlaanderen, it’s also a “spring classic” race here in Colorado. Like the Boulder Roubaix, it’s a race held on the outskirts of Boulder, on dirt and gravel. It’s a nod to the Belgium spring classics. We don’t have cobbles, but flying over gravel is the next best thing. 

The defining feature of the course is the climb, which the pros see 8 times. It’s steep and very technical:

TheKopp

Last year, the race was cancelled due to snowy weather, this year, after 2 or 3 cancellations from weather in the spring, they moved it to the end of the season. Due to my mountain biking roots, these are my kind of races, so I was pumped.

It was going to be a fast race. Phinney showed up with a good team of support guys from Livestrong and Slipstream had a solid presence as well. Then add the normal local firepower from Horizon Organics, Subaru-AutoVista, Michelob/Big Shark, and VC-Natural Grocers and it was going to be a tough day. 

The first few laps were insane. The climb was barely rideable and all I can say is I’m glad it was dry. I was good to go. I made the front group on the first two laps, but like Snake Alley, this punchy little climb is an elastic band. Each lap a few guys either fall, loose the wheel in front of them or get dropped at the top. 

My teammate Drew made the front break which consisted of names like Phinney and Moninger. Nick and I were just behind. While I had a good day, it could have been better. I had a fall on the climb on the fifth time up, which cost me a bunch of time and then I attacked the chase group leading into the finish. It was a move that would either be really good on the results or really bad. I ended up being caught right before the line and like 7 guys passed me. I ended up 26th though, which wasn’t too bad considering the fall. There were around 70 starters and 34 finishers just to put it in perspective. 

While I think I had it in my for a top 15 or even a top 10, I still had a decent day. I’m a little sore from my fall on the climb, but thankful it isn’t worse and I’m also very thankful my BH bike held up so well. The bike shifted well, I never dropped my chain and my tires never went flat

Big props to my teammate Drew who came in at 9th, just behind Phinney. The force is strong with DC. I expect big things from him …

Here are some pics of the mayhem.

First Time up the climb: Insanity

fisthill

Nick and Drew on Coyle’s wheel:

HARTbros

Drew slayin’ it to make the break:

DrewChristopherKoppenberg

Feelin’ good:

Pain

My last time up the climb … ouch!:

finalclimb

More pictures of the Pro race here

On deck is a 4 day stage race in Steamboat. I’m excited, it will be beautiful, fast and fun. It will also mark the official end of my 2009 road season. That’s ok though, Cyclocross is coming …

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