Images: Jered Gruber
First introduced in de Ronde van Vlaanderen, aka the Tour of Flanders, in 1975, the Koppenberg has been a fixture of the fabled race. The climb was removed from the parcours for 15 years following the unfortunate steamrolling of Jesper Skibby's bike (but thankfully not Skibby himself) after the Dane fell on the climb and a commissaire's car had nowhere to go but forward as the field closed in behind. Following renovations and a renewed appetite for the painful ascent, the Koppenberg was restored to the 'bergs' of Flanders' greatest race.
While not a strategic point in the April classic, the steep pitch of this narrow, cobbled lane makes for early-race excitement and a fevered battle for position to climb among the early leaders. Riders caught in traffic at the tail end of the peloton are often forced to dismount and walk. As they say, de Ronde may not be won on the Koppenberg, but it may be lost.