Lessons of The Koppenberg
8, that is how many wins Sven Nys has at the Koppenberg Cross. I would argue that Koppenberg is probably the hardest course the big guns face all season. It is always muddy, the uphills are low cadence grinders, the downhills are “hang off your seat and hope for the best” tests of courage. Pretty much every challange one can imagne is present on that fabled and cursed course.
Last year we saw then World Champ Neils Albert decimating everyone in the early season, this year the same story with World Champ Zdenek Stybar. All the while everyone is wondering is Nys finally done? Hell no! The key to winning at Koppenberg (or any gnarly course) is to be supple in mind and body. You simply can not impose your will on such tracks, you can try but you will be shut down faster than keg party at BYU. Sven understands this, yes he has staggering amounts of power and super human bike handling skills but it is the way he allows the course to tell him how to apply those gifts that make him the king. Watching Albert on the descents he was fighting his bike trying to force his agenda, nope, cant be done. For the half lap that Nys rode with a flat he one would have never known, he was smooth as silk, his demeanor was focused and calm. He was in the moment, the others were fighting it.
Here in the 801 we saw a similar example. A long deep sand pit demanded that you respect it and allow it to dictate how you were to pass. If you fought it you had to run, if you surrendered you were rewarded with an easy gap. Learn to read and understand the energy of the track, feel it and work with it.