Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) formed part of a trio of American riders in the top-10 of theAzencross
race in Loenhout, Belgium, on Tuesday afternoon. The rider avoided difficulties in the last lap to arrive fifth in the race won by Netherlands' Daphny Van Den Brand.
Fellow Americans Katie Compton and Georgia Gould finished second and ninth respectively.
"It was really fast, but the real leaders just kept slowing down in places," Lloyd said. "I figured if I could stay far up I would have a good chance of finishing top-five because the riders in the back would not be able to move up."
Lloyd was with the front group that also included Canadian Wendy Simms as the final lap started. A crash on an artificial bridge allowed Van Den Brand to gain her lead while Lloyd pushed on over a roller section and avoided a mishap by World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel.
"I still don't feel I have the speed and the acceleration out of the corners to match these girls," she said. "I have just been training steady and high-end. We don't have this kind of speed in the USA, these types of fast courses."
Lloyd will return to action in 2009 when she lines up in Tervuren on January 4. She stays in Europe and races the next two World Cups as a lead-up to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships on February 1 in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. She finished ninth at World Championships last year in Treviso, Italy.