Belgian champion Sanne Cant (IKO Enertherm-Beobank) won the fifth round of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy in Antwerp, Belgium on Saturday afternoon. Cant outsprinted Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) at the end of a thrilling final lap, with Katerina Nash (CLIF Pro Team) in third at 45 seconds back.
"It probably looked good on TV and I enjoyed it too," Cant told Sporza after her win. "I'm pleased with the final part of the race as the first part was a disaster. Sprinting against Sophie isn't easy but it worked out."
Former World champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) made a succesful cyclo-cross comeback in Antwerp by finishing fourth. Current World champion Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv) finished one spot further back in fifth place at just over a minute from Cant but remains in the lead of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy time-based general classification. De Jong's bonus over Cant is halved and she's now only 1:07 ahead of the Belgian rider and 1:24 in front of De Boer.
"I already knew before the race it would be hard today. My first passage through the sand was a poor one and my courage dropped below freezing point. Mentally it was hard. The last few laps my sand-riding was fluent, at least to my standards but by then the others were gone," De Jong told Sporza.
The day before the tough World Cup round in Namur riders were expected to take it easy in Antwerp, at the fast course on the Schelde river banks. At least, that was what World Cup leader Sophie de Boer intended to do before she suddenly had a bonus of 15 seconds after the first of six laps. "It wasn't my goal to attack straight away. I tried to ride around my anaerobic threshold because tomorrow I've got a jersey to defend," De Boer told Sporza.
Also at the start line in Antwerp was Marianne Vos. She had a back-row start position but at the first corner she was already featuring in the top 10. A few moments later Vos was already popping up in third place behind fast starters Sophie de Boer and Thalita de Jong. Behind Vos was Maud Kaptheijns (Steylaerts-Verona) and those four Dutch riders survived the first cut. The rest of the field was already trailing by 8 seconds and the first major sand section was still to come up. That's where De Jong started to struggle. She blocked the road for Vos and Kaptheijns, offering a major bonus to De Boer. After the opening lap De Boer was 15 seconds ahead of chasers Kaptheijns, Vos, De Jong and a returning Cant.
"My start was awkward and suddenly I found myself pinballing at the back of the top 10 while Marianne was already in front. I knew it could happen straight away in the sand section. She was already gone," Cant said.
In front, De Boer tried to avoid mistakes and ride at a steady rhythm. In the chase group Kaptheijns dropped away with a chain problem at long distance from the pit. She was replaced by Katerina Nash who slowly worked her way through the field after a moderate start. The second passage through the sand cost De Jong her place in the chase group and she was in for a long lonely ride in Antwerp. "She [Vos] accelerated fiercely and that's how I got dropped. It's a pity because later she was dropped too. Next time she'll ride smarter," De Jong said. By the end of the second lap, chasers Vos, Cant and Nash were 18 seconds down on De Boer. Once Cant set the pace in the third lap, Vos and Nash began to struggle.
A the end of the third lap Vos got dropped a first time. She recovered but early on in the fourth lap she was dropped for good. At the end of the same lap Nash was dropped too in the long sand section.
During the fourth lap Cant made up six seconds, coming back at ten seconds from leader De Boer, with still two laps left to race. During the penultimate laps Cant only made up one more second which had De Boer feeling relatively comfortable at the point. "I thought it was … well, no. I was dead-empty. With nine seconds it was possible but I had nothing left. I didn't want to dig too deep," De Boer said.
De Boer's bonus melted early in the final lap, with a pedal problem at the barriers making matters worse. Still, Cant had to chase until the final sand section to get back onto her wheel.
Cant explained she was highly motivated to try everything.
"It was all or nothing in the final lap. It's a special race for me, I lived nearby. I gave everything to bridge back up," Cant said. Just before the finishing straight Cant passed De Boer.
"She made smart move to get ahead of me. I had nothing left for the sprint," De Boer said.
"It was a short bit to the finish so I had to be ahead. That's at least a bonus of one bike length," Cant said.
De Boer pushed on in the sprint but failed to make up that the bike length. "After the finish I could cry but tomorrow is much more important. Hopefully I'll recover well. The white jersey will give me wings," De Boer said, looking ahead to Sunday's World Cup round in Namur.
Nash held on for third place and seemed content with the result—the Czech-American veteran was all smiles on the podium. Teammates Vos and De Jong were fourth and fifth. Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) is still on her way back to top form after a crash, but she captured a respectable sixth place in Antwerp.
The next round of the IJsboerke Ladies Trophy series continues on December 29th in Loenhout.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO Enertherm-Beobank||0:39:11|
|2||Sophie De Boer (Ned) Kalas-NNOF|
|3||Katerina Nash (Cze) Clif Pro Team||0:00:45|
|4||Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo-Liv||0:00:59|
|5||Thalita De Jong (Ned) Rabo-Liv||0:01:08|
|6||Nikki Brammeier (GBr) Boels-Dolmans||0:01:40|
|7||Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games||0:01:48|
|8||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.com||0:01:56|
|9||Pavla Havlikova (Cze)||0:01:59|
|10||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:02|
|11||Jolien Verschueren (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:16|
|12||Loes Sels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:02:24|
|13||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Team Steylaerts||0:02:58|
|14||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)||0:03:16|
|15||Evie Richards (GBr)||0:03:21|
|16||Githa Michiels (Bel)||0:03:25|
|17||Shana Maes (Bel)||0:03:44|
|18||Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Ned)||0:03:59|
|19||Fleur Nagengast (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:04:10|
|20||Bianca Van Den Hoek (Ned)||0:04:40|
|21||Anne Terpstra (Ned)||0:04:50|
|22||Veerle Goossens (Ned)||0:05:02|
|23||Esther Van Der Burg (Ned)||0:05:07|
|24||Jinse Peeters (Bel)||0:05:09|
|25||Monique Van De Ree (Ned)||0:05:29|
|26||Nikola Noskova (Cze)||0:05:35|
|27||Floor Weerink (Ned)||0:05:50|
|28||Susanne Meistrok (Ned)|
|29||Axelle Bellaert (Bel)|
|30||Eva Maria Palm (Bel)|
|31||Kristien Nelen (Bel)|
|32||Aurelie Vermeir (Bel)|
|33||Marthe Truyen (Bel)|
|34||Zo Mulder (Ned)|
|35||Meg De Bruyne (Bel)|
|36||Nele Van Maldeghem (Bel)|
|37||Lena Bischoff-Stein (Ger)|
|38||Tinne Vermeiren (Bel)|
|39||Nikola Bajgerova (Cze)|
|40||Caren Commissaris (Bel)|
|41||Ella Conolly (GBr)|
|42||Lara Defour (Bel)|
|43||Yenthe Boons (Bel)|
|44||Lise Van Wunsel (Bel)|
|45||Tine Rombouts (Bel)|
|46||Tine Verdeyen (Bel)|
|47||Brenda Kaczmarczyk (Bel)|
|48||Marike Tache (Rom)|
|49||Justine Louchaert (Bel)|