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Azencross Loenhout (Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden #5) - C1
Belgium, December 28, 2007
Race 4 - December 28: Elite Women, 40 minutes
'La Hanka' makes up for Hofstade blow
By Brecht Decaluwé in Loenhout, with additional reporting from Gregor Brown
German champion Hanka Kupfernagel bounced back from a disappointing World Cup race to take a convincing victory in the Gazet van Antwerpen leg in Loenhout. The former world champion jumped away after two laps and never looked back. At the finish line she had a huge gap on the surprisingly strong Mirjam Melchers.
Behind her the battle for the last podium sport was a hard fought one between four women. Eventually it was Melchers' team-mate Saskia Elemans who won the sprint ahead of Wendy Simms, Helen Wyman and Loes Sels. The podium finishers from the World Cup in Hofstade fell short today, most probably because the course was very demanding two days ago. Daphny Van Den Brand and Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn were never in contention for the win and they finished more than a minute behind winner Kupfernagel, together with Sanne Cant. Kupfernagel was the only one from the top five in Hofstade who finished in the top five again today.
"I attacked a bit too early but I managed to create a big gap right away," Kupfernagel said to Cyclingnews. "It was in a muddy part where we had to run. I did a lot of beach volleyball in South-Africa and Germany last Summer and so my running in the sand improved a lot." The German woman led the race on her own for four laps with the wind not helping her at all in the 300m long home straight. "Four laps are very long, also for me," she laughed. "It was enjoyable to ride here since it was less muddy and less cold than other years."
Two days ago in Hofstade Kupfernagel finished fifth, but she explained that a mechanical was the reason why she didn't come closer to the victory. "There was a problem with the sole of my shoe. I was very disappointed after that race because I knew my form was good. My mechanics worked all day long on the bike, and I don't know how they did it, but it all worked perfect today," Kupfernagel smiled.
The woman in second position didn't expect to finish that well in Loenhout, as she was surprised journalists wanted quotes from her after the finish line. "I'm happy with this second place although I hoped Kupfernagel would lose speed after a while. Sadly enough she didn't, while I started to make mistakes myself," Melchers explained to Cyclingnews. "I was always going flat out, but since Kupfernagel created such a big gap after one lap it proved to be an impossible mission for me."
Leader in the Gazet van Antwerpen classification remains Daphny Van Den Brand, although she didn't pull off a great job today with her ninth place. "I did five races in eight days, just like the men do. I'm a real 'cross cyclist. Although I need rhythm, it seems that this was a bit too much of it. I'll need to take a break to make up for this blow in the upcoming Gazet van Antwerpen races.
Wendy Simms came just shy of making the podium, but she can look back on a great race in front of a big crowd. "I felt pretty tired for the start due to the amount of racing; I did three quick races and then the World Cup [in Hofstade, December 26], which was pretty tiring. The rollers were fun, I was able to sneak in one or two pedal strokes, but it is mostly pumping your bike through there. We don't have course like that back home," Simms said to Cyclingnews.
How it unfolded
No big gaps were created at first but after two laps Hanka Kupfernagel decided to have a go for it in the mud. The German woman ran away from her rivals and quickly gathered a handful of seconds on a big group with the other favourite Daphny Van Den Brand. Mirjam Melchers launched a counter-attack in the third lap and was riding ten seconds behind the German leader. Behind her Elemans, Wyman, Simms and Sels got away from Van Den Brand and Hormes-Ravenstijn.
With three laps to go Kupfernagel kept increasing her lead on Melchers and it was already up to 16". Behind these two women it was Helen Wyman who launched a counter-attack. She created a small gap on Elemans, Sels and Simms. The gaps kept increasing as the race continued and it was clear that the first two podium spots were secured. Daphny Van Den Brand was constantly losing ground on the riders in front of her, and was already riding more than a minute behind Kupfernagel.
Kupfernagel had time to greet the big, but silent, crowds in Loenhout and captured a nice victory. Melchers captured a well deserved second place at 27 seconds from Kupfernagel. The sprint for third place was eventually won by Elemans before Simms, Wyman and Belgian champion Sels. Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn got rid of Sanne Cant and took seventh. Stephanie Pohl fought with Van Den Brand for ninth place and it was the Dutch woman who won that background battle.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews.com
Elite Women (56 starters) 1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Focus 42.21 2 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Team Flexpoint 0.27 3 Saskia Elemans (Ned) WV de Meteoor 0.52 4 Wendy Simms (Can) Kona-Your Key Mortgage Team 5 Helen Wyman (GBr) Global Racing Team 6 Loes Sels (Bel) Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T Interim 7 Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) ZZPR.nl 1.17 8 Sanne Cant (Bel) ASD Selle Italia Guerciotti 1.33 9 Daphny van den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl 1.51 10 Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Team Getränke-Hoffmann 1.54 11 Veerle Ingels (Bel) AVB/USspa Cycling Team 2.13 12 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) KC Kooperativa SG Jablonec n.N 2.26 13 Linda Van Rijen (Ned) Team DSB Bank 2.45 14 Sue Butler (USA) River City Bicycles 2.50 15 Susanne Juranek (Ger) RSC Oldenburg 1965 2.54 16 Anja Nobus (Bel) Wielerclub Oostende Noordzee 17 Wendy Williams (USA) River City Bicycles 18 Gabriella Day (GBr) Global Racing Team 3.09 19 Ayako Toyooka (Jpn) 4.18 20 Nadia Triquet-Claude (Fra) UC Bassin Houiller 4.36 21 Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) 22 Katrien Aerts (Bel) Benelux Team 4.52 23 Mika Ogishima (Jpn) UWTC de Volharding 5.01 24 Nicole De Bie-Leyten (Bel) USspa Cycling Team 5.03 25 Gertie Willems (Bel) Wielerpromotieclub Jeugdteam 26 Katrien Van Looy (Bel) Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T Interim 5.55 27 Laure Werner (Bel) Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim 28 Christine Vardaros (USA) Team Vanderkitten 6.23 29 Jessie Roberts (GBr) 6.29 30 Aline Parsy (Fra) Pédale Madeleinoise 6.33 31 Kristien Nelen (Bel) 6.39 32 Monique van de Ree (Ned) 7.01 33 Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) 34 Ilse Vandekinderen (Bel) Goeman Scott Cycling 35 Lana Verberne (Ned) 7.15 36 Ludivine Henrion (Bel) Team DSB Bank 37 Tessa Van Nieuwpoort (Ned) GRTC Excelsior 7.40 38 Rebecca Wellons (USA) Ridley Factory Team 7.50 39 Francis Keizer (Ned) 8.02 40 Melanie Woering (Ned) 41 Kim Van Renterghem (Bel) Asfra Racing Team 42 Vicki Thomas (Can) Stevens Cross 43 Nicole Oude Wansink (Ned) GvA standings after two rounds 1 Daphny van den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl 37 pts 2 Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) ZZPR.nl 36 3 Helen Wyman (GBr) Global Racing Team 30 4 Veerle Ingels (Bel) AVB/USspa Cycling Team 29 Sanne Cant (Bel) ASD Selle Italia Guerciotti 29 6 Saskia Elemans (Ned) WV de Meteoor 27 7 Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Team Getränke-Hoffmann 26 8 Linda Van Rijen (Ned) Team DSB Bank 25 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Focus 25 10 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Team Flexpoint 22 11 Wendy Simms (Can) Kona-Your Key Mortgage Team 17 12 Anja Nobus (Bel) Wielerclub Oostende Noordzee 16 13 Gabriella Day (GBr) Global Racing Team 15 Loes Sels (Bel) Vlaanderen - Capri Sonne - T Interim 15 15 Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Lingier - Versluys MTB Team 13 16 Christine Vardaros (USA) Team Vanderkitten 10 17 Laurence Leboucher (Fra) Sarthe-Gasseau 9 Pavla Havlikova (Cze) KC Kooperativa SG Jablonec n.N 9 19 Katrien Aerts (Bel) Benelux Team 7 Sue Butler (USA) River City Bicycles 7 21 Ilse Vandekinderen (Bel) Goeman Scott Cycling 6 Susanne Juranek (Ger) RSC Oldenburg 1965 6 23 Aline Parsy (Fra) Pédale Madeleinoise 5 24 Mika Ogishima (Jpn) UWTC de Volharding 4 Wendy Williams (USA) River City Bicycles 4 26 Katrien Vermeiren (Bel) Emversport International Cycling Team 3 27 Daisy van der Aa (Ned) RTV Oldenzaalse WCL 2 Ayako Toyooka (Jpn) 2 29 Gertie Willems (Bel) Wielerpromotieclub Jeugdteam 1 Nadia Triquet-Claude (Fra) UC Bassin Houiller 1