Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank) won her eighth consecutive Belgian cyclo-cross title in Ostend on Sunday afternoon. On a tough course Cant narrowly held off a surprisingly strong Laura Verdonschot (Marlux-Napoleon Games). More than a minute later Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) captured the final podium spot ahead of team-mate Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet-Fidea).
“It was a hard-fought battle," Cant told Sporza. "It’s been one of the hardest editions I’ve ridden. It would’ve been massively disappointing if I would’ve lost."
All the female categories raced together in Ostend, with the U23-Women and the Elite women racing six laps over the entertaining course. At the start Verschueren missed her pedal and behind her several young riders crashed. The riders quickly reached the spectacular bridge that was created for these championships, reaching an altitude of eight metres after climbing with a gradient of 21 degrees.
After the fast drop from the massive bridge riders reached the beach next to the North Sea. UCI-rule 5.1.023 states that sand pits must have a level entrance and that was clearly not the case here. Unsurprisingly many riders crashed when entering the sand pit at high speed. Four riders powered strongly through the sand and rode the rest of the opening lap together, featuring Cant, Verdonschot, Van Loy and Alicia Franck (Marlux-Napoleon Games).
Verschueren, Loes Sels (Young Telenet-Fidea) and Karen Verhestraeten followed at nine seconds. Verschueren her chances for the win quickly vanished when she crashed in the sand after the descent from the bridge.
Franck and Van Loy were quickly dropped in the second lap. Surprisingly it wasn’t top favourite Cant but 20 year-old Verdonschot who set the pace in front. Van Loy failed to bridge back up, trialing the two leaders by three seconds after the second lap. Franck followed at thirteen seconds, with Verschueren coming up at 21 seconds.
During the third lap Cant took the initiative in front, trying to distance Verdonschot. The latter struggled but didn’t crack. Just before hitting the fourth lap the duo came back together. Van Loy was struggling on the steep climbs and started to lose more ground. She followed at ten seconds. Verschueren passed Franck and trailed the leaders by 36 seconds.
Verschueren crashed again after the steep drop in the fourth lap. In front Verdonschot crashed in the second fast and twisting part of the course.
“I was on Grypho profile while Sanne was on Rhino’s. That’s why I slipped away there,” Verdonschot said.
When hitting the penultimate lap Cant had a lead of five seconds on Verdonschot. Van Loy was 22 seconds down. Nevertheless Verdonschot managed to bridge back up with Cant in the penultimate lap which might have been a mental blow for Cant.
Straight away, Verdonschot moved into the lead. When hitting the final lap the duo was nearly forty seconds ahead of Van Loy. Cant moved back into the lead when reaching the sand section but failed to drop Verdonschot.
“The sand section wasn’t long enough to make a difference. Everybody was able to ride until the corner. The running section that followed made it very hard,” Cant said.
Before the race, the sand section was much discussed and shortened, supposedly to follow the UCI-rule that 90 percent of the course should be ridable. After the sand section Cant kept trying to set a pace that was hard enough to put Verdonschot in trouble. The latter was briefly gapped after returning from the beach to the hippodrome but she managed to bounce back.
The series of obstacles favoured the rider in front and a few moments later, Cant gapped Verdonschot again and this time the race was decided. At the finish Cant had time to celebrate her win, finishing four seconds ahead of Verdonschot, who had to settle for the consolation prize of the U23 title
“It’s a consolation prize but I’m not satisfied with it," Verdonschot said. "I'm pleased with second place but it feels like a missed opportunity. She knew she had to be in front in the final lap. I’m in the form of my life and maybe I’ll never get a chance like this again.
Van Loy finished a long lonely race in third place at 24 seconds. Verschueren lost a massive amount of time in the sand and finished fourth at eleven seconds from Van Loy. Loes Sels won the battle for fifth place from Franck.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank)||0:40:59|
|2||Laura Verdonschot (KDL Cycling Team)||0:00:04|
|3||Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet Fidea)||0:01:24|
|4||Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet Fidea)||0:01:35|
|5||Loes Sels (Young Telenet Fidea)||0:02:14|
|6||Alicia Franck (Selectie - België)|
|7||Joyce Vanderbeken (Decock-Van Eyck-Devos-Cap)||0:02:48|
|8||Karen Verhestraeten (Selectie - Individuelen)||0:02:55|
|9||Eva Maria Palm (Koga Ladies - Dr. Herzog)||0:04:15|
|10||Julie Van De Velde (Selectie - Individuelen)|
|11||Shana Maes (Cyclocross Vorselaar)||0:05:18|
|12||Suzanne Verhoeven (WV De Jonge Renner Ooster)||0:05:57|
|13||Aurélie Vermeir (Bike Advice CT)||0:06:16|
|14||Axelle Bellaert (Cyclocross Vorselaar)||0:06:23|
|15||Marthe Truyen (Kalas Cycling Team 99)||0:06:57|
|16||Tinne Vermeiren (Edegem BC)||0:07:11|
|17||Gertie Willems (Kempens Cyclingteam vzw)||0:07:25|
|18||Kristien Nelen (Team Fietshop Uitgeest)||0:07:36|
|19||Kim Van De Putte (Bike Advice CT)||0:07:47|
|20||Meg De Bruyne (Kon. Gentse Velo Sport)||0:08:01|
|21||Laure Michels (Kids Sport Promotion Belg...)|
|22||Lise Van Wunsel (Vanomobil MTB Cycling Tea...)|
|23||Lara Van Wunsel (Hageland Cycling Team)|
|24||Tine Rombouts (Kon. Balen BC vzw)|
|25||Kelly Greefs (Nodrugs Heroes Flanders)|
|26||Eva Vermeersch (Zannata-Galloo CT Menen)|
|27||Katleen Fraeye (VZW Wielerteam Waregem)|
|28||Jo Blanchaert (KVC Deinze)|
|29||Mieke Docx (WV Zeeuwsvlaanderen)|
|30||Sandie Verriest (Asfra Racing Team)|