Fiandre: Classic Climbs – Paterberg & Koppenberg

Clean lines on the Koppenberg – normally I’d abide to European road laws BUT….

Clean lines on the Koppenberg – normally I’d abide to European road laws BUT….

The 3rd of April is still a few weeks away but like any true cycling fan it’s been on my mind since the beginning of the racing season. Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the Spring Classic that seemingly encapsulates everything I love about pro bike racing, is an event that can evoke every emotion, a cycling fan could have!

While Sportful is very much an Italian brand – the geographical location will tell you as much – it has a strong connection to the northern classics, and in particular RVV. Walk around the headquarters in Fonzaso and you’ll see the winner’s jerseys of Museeuw, Cancellara, Nuyens… (Made by Sportful of course!) Even more telling Sportful has an entire apparel line inspired by the Flemish region and its variable weather conditions – Fiandre.

Semi classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad only serves to whet the appetite… an indication of current form for competitors and spectators alike.

Peter Sagan, was showing the world champ stripes and some good form….

Unlike the pro’s who’ll be jostling for position prior to the climb; our approach to the Koppenberg was tourist like.

Unlike the pro’s who’ll be jostling for position prior to the climb; our approach to the Koppenberg was tourist like.

With RVV still a few weeks away… we decided to do something of a recon, in the loosest sense of the word. In all honesty – it was just an excuse to ride some of the coolest roads and hone our spring season form 😉

The Koppenberg is no joke! Even with “box fresh legs” negotiating the slippery cobbles is never easy!

The Koppenberg is no joke! Even with “box fresh legs” negotiating the slippery cobbles is never easy!

Every time I ride the Koppenberg, I think of Jesper Skibby… I’m sure it’s a default association of any cyclist, of a certain age…

Talk to the experienced pro’s and they’ll describe the sheer madness that precedes the climbs / bergs that feature earlier in the race, a virtual high speed drag race to the bottom of the climb. Upon arriving, the narrow bottleneck nature of the climb will mean very little opportunity to move up – resulting in a slight lull in the pace and then it’s full gas over the top….

We didn’t deploy any tactics – other than pedaling!

I’m sure every pro cyclist would like to stop (mid-race) at the top of the Koppenberg and have a beer – so we did!

I’m sure every pro cyclist would like to stop (mid-race) at the top of the Koppenberg and have a beer – so we did!

From one iconic climb to the next. The Paterberg is quite a contrast to the Koppenberg, open to the elements and any harsh cross / head-wind…

The ride between the 2 climbs served as an opportunity to pedal out the effects of the 20% plus gradients…

From one iconic climb to the next. The Paterberg is quite a contrast to the Koppenberg, open to the elements and any harsh cross / head-wind… The ride between the 2 climbs served as an opportunity to pedal out the effects of the 20% plus gradients…

From one iconic climb to the next. The Paterberg is quite a contrast to the Koppenberg, open to the elements and any harsh cross / head-wind…
The ride between the 2 climbs served as an opportunity to pedal out the effects of the 20% plus gradients…

While the climb’s name doesn’t have quite the same ring as Bosberg (as in Eddy – Edvig Van Hooyadonck) it has proven to play a decisive part and wouldn’t make for such a bad nickname for any rider who chose to make their winning move on it.

Hopefully a guy named Peter….. 

 

Words: Paul Whitfield

Photos: Taylor Tulip-Close

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