Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) captured her seventh Belgian Elite title in her hometown of Lille on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Cant gapped her last rival Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) during the penultimate lap on a fast course. Van Loy was second and Loes Sels (Young Telenet-Fidea) third. Femke Van den Driessche (Kleuren Op Maat) won the U23-race in Lille.
European champion Cant walked across the finish line while lifting her Stevens-bike in the air.
“It was special because it was in front of my home crowd. I think this is something that happens once in a lifetime so I’m pleased it worked out. My first title in Oostmalle was nice but this one too. It will not be easy to keep racking up the titles. I might have bad luck one year. I’m pleased with every title I capture,” Cant said in the post-race flash interview with Sporza.
Cant always seemed in control of the situation on the fast course around the lake in Lille. After a flawless start Cant featured in the small front group with Ellen Van Loy and Loes Sels. The first chase group was 10 seconds down and included Githa Michiels, Karen Verhestraten and Joyce Vanderbeken. Also U23-riders Femke Van den Driessche and Laura Verdonschot featured in this group. Outsider Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet-Fidea) missed her start completely and struggled on the fast course, riding amongst junior riders at nearly half a minute from the leaders.
The situation remained the same in front during the second lap although Sels struggled to keep up with favourites Van Loy and Cant.
In the chase group one of the few mud sections with hidden ruts caused trouble, taking down Verhestraeten and Verdonschot. One lap later the leaders went through similar trouble as both Sels and Van Loy crashed into the mud. Cant lost her balance too but decided to accelerate after the incident. “I saw them going down in the mud but I made a mistake myself. I don’t think I had much advantage but figured I had to put the pressure on my rivals on this course. There were hidden ruts in the mud. It was best to stay cool when approaching the section because with stress one makes mistakes,” Cant said.
For most of the third lap Cant kept going flat out. Sels quickly got dropped but Van Loy kept the gap to less than five seconds and bridged back up early on in the fourth lap. Sels lost about twenty seconds in each lap but kept enough of a gap on Vanderbeken to hold on to the final podium spot.
In front a duel between Cant and Van Loy was shaping up. The sand sections didn’t favour sand-specialist Cant over Van Loy as they were less selective. Cant continued to lead Van Loy with a fast pace on the fast twisting course and again a small gap started to grow. This time Van Loy was unable to close the gap of two seconds early on in the penultimate lap. When she got stuck in the mud section the gap suddenly grew up to more than ten seconds and the race was decided. Cant hit the final lap with a bonus of 16 seconds over Van Loy. Sels was one minute down on Cant, with Vanderbeken closing in at 1:14.
The first three riders rode a flawless final lap and held on to their podium spots. Vanderbeken was fourth, well ahead of Verschueren and Michiels. After the crash in the second lap U23 European champion Femke Van den Driessche always had a good bonus over Verdonschot while riding along with Vanderbeken. Van den Driessche easily captured the U23-title.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Ellen Van Loy||0:00:27|
|16||Nele Van Maldeghem|
|17||Nicole De Bie - Leyten|
|20||Mieke De Roo|