Sanne Cant (Belgium) beat seven-time world champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) in a last-lap thriller at the Bieles 2017 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) fought back from behind and captured the bronze medal. For 26-year-old Cant, it's the first-ever world title after falling just short in the last two years.
When crossing the line, Cant burst into tears, realizing she will be wearing the rainbow jersey during the next year. "I can't believe it. The jersey is mine for a whole year. I dreamed of it since I was six years old. It's twenty years ago. I really can't believe I beat Marianne Vos. She's the seven-time world champion. She's really history. It's an incredible day, the most beautiful day of my life," Cant said in the post-race interview.
Despite a crash from Cant and a chain problem for Vos, the duo reached the short finishing straight together, with Cant leading the way. "When turning onto the road she was still on my wheel and I thought I would lose again. I was sprinting until the finish line but there wasn't any orange coming up. I still couldn't believe it when I crossed the finish line," Cant told Sporza. "Beating Vos in a direct duel adds more glamour to this victory."
For Vos, finishing as runner-up was a major blow. On the podium, she had a hard time to hide her frustration at missing out on another title. "I'm a bit disappointed. You know anything can happen in such a race. It was a fierce duel. We matched each other today, and then it came down to the last lap," Vos told Sporza. "She's technically the best in the pack so it would be hard to beat her on this course."
Vos took the initiative throughout the race, surging away on several occasions. Each time, Cant managed to come up with an answer. Nash and Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) also excelled on the difficult course in Bieles. As they hit the penultimate lap, there were still four leaders in the race with Vos, Cant, Brand and Nash. Vos accelerated again, and forced Brand and Nash to drop back.
Cant once again marked Vos' wheel. That was until halfway the penultimate lap when Cant slipped away and Vos opened up a seemingly massive gap. Nash briefly caught up with the Belgian rider but, again, Cant fought back.
Vos reached the final lap with a lead of eight seconds on Cant and 12 on Nash. Brand was fourth at 19 seconds with Maghalie Rochette (Canada) and Eva Lechner (Italy) at short distance. "It's hard to get a big lead on this course because you always have to pay attention to avoid mistakes. I was handed the lead when Cant slipped away," Vos said.
The race seemed decided, but things turned around again in one of the first sharp corners of the course. Vos' chain dropped and suddenly Cant was leading the race. "After my crash I lost the belief but suddenly I saw her standing and thought, now it has to happen. I thought she was side lined much longer, and I was surprised to find her back on my wheel a few moments later," Cant told Sporza.
The duo headed into the second half of the course with multiple technical obstacles. Vos attacked one more time but Cant was able to fight her way back to her wheel. The pace never dropped with Nash following at short distance. Vos reached the final steep off-camber drop first but Cant exited the section much faster and moved into the lead. With one final climb left to the finishing straight the Belgian rider had the best cards. "I wanted to drop her on that climb but that didn't work out. I did realize that she was also on the limit. I hesitated to shift to the big ring. It all goes so fast. Luckily she had nothing left in her tank. If I had shifted, I would've come to a standstill," Cant said.
Behind the leading duo, Nash captured a well-deserved third place in a sprint with a disappointed Lucinda Brand in fourth. It's Nash her second medal at the world championships after a third place in Sankt-Wendel in 2011. The biggest surprise of the day was the fifth place for Maghalie Rochette. She rode near the front throughout the race, seemingly making no mistakes on the slippery course. Eva Lechner was sixth at nearly a minute from winner Cant. Home rider Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) took a great start, briefly led the race in the opening lap and eventually captured seventh place ahead of Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) and Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain). Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) completed a steady race just behind the top guns and closed out the top-10.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Belgium)||0:43:06|
|2||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:00:01|
|3||Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)||0:00:21|
|4||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)|
|5||Maghalie Rochette (Canada)||0:00:36|
|6||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:00:53|
|7||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||0:01:21|
|8||Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)||0:01:25|
|9||Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain)||0:01:31|
|10||Kaitlin Antonneau (United States Of America)||0:01:46|
|11||Elle Anderson (United States Of America)||0:02:29|
|12||Caroline Mani (France)||0:02:40|
|13||Amanda Miller (United States Of America)||0:02:49|
|14||Marlene Petit (France)||0:02:53|
|15||Courtenay Mcfadden (United States Of America)|
|16||Helen Wyman (Great Britain)||0:03:06|
|17||Alicia Franck (Belgium)||0:03:12|
|18||Lucie Chainel (France)||0:03:19|
|19||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)||0:03:29|
|20||Mical Dyck (Canada)||0:04:27|
|21||Rebecca Fahringer (United States Of America)||0:04:49|
|22||Lise-Marie Henzelin (Switzerland)||0:05:13|
|23||Nathalie Lamborelle (Luxembourg)||0:05:51|
|24||Cindy Montambault (Canada)||0:06:06|
|25||Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland)||0:06:30|
|26||Jolien Verschueren (Belgium)||0:06:36|
|27||Hannah Payton (Great Britain)||0:06:40|
|28||Stefanie Paul (Germany)||0:08:05|
|29||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:08:15|
|30||Miho Imai (Japan)||-1|
|31||Aida Nuno Palacio (Spain)||-1|
|32||Naomi Williams (Australia)||-1|
|33||Rikke Lonne (Denmark)||-1|
|34||Kristina Thrane (Denmark)||-1|
|35||Waka Takeda (Japan)||-1|
|36||Rebecca Locke (Australia)||-2|
|37||Suzie Godart (Luxembourg)||-2|
|DNF||Katherine Compton (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Loes Sels (Belgium)|
|DNF||Sophie De Boer (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)|