Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) won the fourth round of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy in Essen, Belgium, beating Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) in a close sprint finish. World champion Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv) was third at short distance.
Despite missing out on victory, De Jong remains leader in the time-based overall classification of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy with a two-minute bonus over Cant.
“It was super fast today and it was a tactical race; the pace often dropped. It was a matter of taking the final steps in first place,” Cant told Sporza. “Experience? Maybe, I’ve been in similar situations in the past and when you’ve got something left in your tank it’s possible to think tactically.”
The race at the Belgian-Dutch border in foggy Essen marked the comeback of Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans). Forty days earlier she crashed hard at the European championships. In Essen she was spotted with a smiling face at the front row of the starting field.
Local rider De Jong took the best start on the course next to the railway tracks but quickly entered the pit to switch bikes. “My derailleur blocked up three times on the first climbing section. Immediately I lost a lot of ground and was up for a chase, like in previous years,” De Jong explained to Sporza.
In front De Boer didn’t wait and she kept the pace high. After the opening lap, five riders had a small gap on De Jong. They were De Boer, Cant, Maud Kaptheijns (Steylaerts), Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) and Laura Verdonschot (Kalas-NNOF). Meanwhile De Jong moved up through the field, passing Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), young Evie Richards (Great Britain) and Nikki Brammeier.
While closing in on the lead group De Jong slipped and crashed, dropping back to 14 seconds. Up front Cant took over the command, winning the intermediate sprint and taking 15 bonus seconds. The pace then dropped in front and at halfway the race De Jong fought her way back and joined the lead group. Further back Richards abandoned the race with mechanical problems. The chasers were twenty seconds down on the six leaders. They were Loes Sels (Young Telenet-Fidea), Karen Verhestraten (Lares), Brammeier, Cannondale teammates Emma White and Antonneau.
During the final laps the pace up front didn’t pick up as tactics dominated. Van Loy dropped back due to a mechanical. She seemed to be out of contention for the victory but suddenly joined the leaders again when hitting the final lap, together with Sels, Brammeier, White and Antonneau.
A photo finish
It’s extremely rare to still have ten riders in the mix for the victory in the final lap of a cyclo-cross race but it produced a thrilling finale. Van Loy, Brammeier and Antonneau had most left in their tank and tried to move up. A fierce acceleration from De Boer ended their hopes as the positions quickly returned to the old situation with De Boer leading Cant, De Jong, Kaptheijns and Verdonschot. Halfway through the final lap, De Jong took command, with Cant still in second place and De Boer in third. The final stairs, just 250 metres before the finish, would be decisive.
As they approached, Cant passed De Jong and flawlessly tackled the steps. De Jong struggled to get back in the pedals and lost her chance for the victory on home soil.
Cant powered towards the finish line and raised her arms up to celebrate the win, not noticing a fierce comeback from De Boer. It was very close on the line but Cant got the win ahead of the two Dutch women. The finish photo showed she was still half a wheel ahead of De Boer.
“I had a scare when Sophie suddenly flew by. I didn’t know she was that close to me otherwise I would’ve made a jump to the line,” Cant said.
De Boer from her side realized she started the sprint in a seemingly beaten position.
“I didn’t ride a smart final lap. I had my chance in the sprint. I took the initiative but was only third at the steps. I knew Sanne would move up as she did in the previous lap. She’s technically better and that showed. Thalita had a problem with her pedal and Sanne had a big lead,” De Boer told Sporza.
De Jong was disappointed with her race: “I knew I had to be first at the steps but found myself glued on Cant’s wheel. I just had to follow and try to get over her in the sprint. Sadly I didn’t click into the pedal and then it was lost,” De Jong told Sporza.
Maud Kaptheijns was fourth ahead of Van Loy, Verdonschot, Antonneau, White, Brammeier and Sels. Jolien Verschueren (Young Telenet-Fidea) has health issues and didn’t recover from her usual poor start. Still, she managed to limit her losses and finished eleventh at 32 seconds from Cant.
De Jong remains leader in the time-based classification of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy. Cant gained 15 seconds in the bonus sprint and moves over Verschueren into second place at 2:06. Verschueren is third at 2:19. De Boer gained ten seconds and is fourth at 2:38.
The next round of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy is held in Antwerp, Belgium next weekend.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank||0:44:56|
|2||Sophie De Boer (Ned) Kalas-NNOF|
|3||Thalita De Jong (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team||0:00:01|
|4||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Team Steylaerts||0:00:04|
|5||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:06|
|6||Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:00:07|
|7||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com||0:00:09|
|8||Emma White (USA)||0:00:10|
|9||Nikki Brammeier (GBr) Boels-Dolmans||0:00:13|
|10||Loes Sels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:17|
|11||Jolien Verschueren (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:00:32|
|12||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Lares-WoawDeals||0:00:41|
|13||Lindy Van Anrooij (Ned)||0:01:13|
|14||Yara Kastelijn (Ned)||0:01:37|
|15||Fleur Nagengast (Ned)||0:01:47|
|16||Githa Michiels (Bel)|
|17||Ceylin Alvarado Del Carmen (Ned)||0:01:48|
|18||Bianca Van Dan Hoek (Ned)||0:01:55|
|19||Shana Maes (Bel) AA Drink-Kalas||0:02:28|
|20||Ffion James (GBr)||0:02:40|
|21||Geerte Hoeke (Ned)||0:03:02|
|22||Floor Weerink (Ned)||0:03:31|
|23||Megan James (GBr)||0:04:14|
|24||Tinne Vermeiren (Bel)||0:04:30|
|25||Gertie Willems (Bel)||0:04:37|
|26||Kristien Nelen (Bel)||0:04:46|
|27||Meg De Bruyne (Bel)||0:05:00|
|28||Caren Commissaris (Bel)||0:05:19|
|29||Jinse Peeters (Bel)||0:05:40|