Annemarie Worst (Netherlands) won the U23 women race at the 2017 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg on Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old Worst rode away from UCI World Cup winner Ellen Noble (USA), on the final lap. Defending world champion Evie Richards (Great Britain) captured the bronze medal.
Worst is a great climber who combines cyclo-cross with mountain biking. She finished third at the Dutch under-23 cyclo-cross national championships. A fourth and third place amongst the elite women riders at the final World Cup rounds in Fiuggi and Hoogerheide showed that she was in top form. In Bieles, Worst was one of the main favourites and she kept her cool to capture the rainbow jersey.
Worst was very excited after her win. “It was so difficult, the course, so slippery. You had to stay so focused. On the first lap, I was trying to ride away from the girls but that didn’t happen. I tried again, and again. On the last lap I could ride away from the other girls so I’m very happy,” Worst said in the post-race flash interview, dedicating the win to her friend Annefleur Kalvenhaar, who died following a heavy crash during a mountain bike race in 2014.
“I ride for her,” said Worst.
Three riders dominated the race in Bieles, with fortunes changing on every lap. At first, eventual winner Worst rode away on the slippery course. In contrast to the first race of the day on Saturday morning, the course featured less ice and more mud. There were fewer crashes than in the junior men race, although two crashes included Emma White (USA) early on. Up front, Worst fell and she was caught back by Noble, Richards and Laura Verdonschot (Belgium) by the end of the opening lap.
Richards took over the initiative on the second lap and Verdonschot struggled to keep up. A few moments later, Noble and Worst were gapped too. Just before the end of the second lap, Verdonschot crashed, slipping away on an off-camber climb. Richards hit the third of five laps with a four-second lead on Worst and a few more on Noble. Verdonschot was 20 seconds down on the leader. Richards failed to extend her lead, and halfway through the race Worst and Noble bridged back up. In the background, Verdonschot crashed hard again but continued her race.
During the penultimate lap, Richards was dropped, and Worst and Noble started to exchange accelerations. Noble punched away from Worst on the climbs and hit the final lap four seconds ahead of her companion. Behind, Richards was out of contention at twenty seconds.
The last lap would decide the winner in Bieles, and Worst quickly bridged back up with Noble. The decisive moment came halfway around, when Noble dived first into a descent but overcooked the following corner. Worst rode a perfect line and powered away on the following climb.
“I knew I had to stay focused and ride the track clean. I was thinking that they can also make mistakes. I’m so happy,” Worst said. “I passed her on the inside and pushed through. I knew I was better in those sections. I knew I should not stay behind her there.”
The gap continued to grow and Worst rode flawlessly to the world title. Noble was delighted when crossing the line in second place at 10 seconds. Third-placed Richards also seemed content with her third place at 26 seconds from winner Worst. A disappointed Verdonschot held onto fourth place at 1:08.
“I struggled during the two first laps but started going better. Then I crashed. It wasn’t over yet and I was coming back on Noble. Then I crashed really hard on the road and into the fences. I thought about giving up. Technically I was good but the legs weren’t super,” Verdonschot told Sporza.
Manon Bakker (Netherlands) held off Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic) for fifth place. A delighted Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands) was the third Dutch rider in seventh place. Emma White fought back from her opening lap problems and finished eighth, just ahead of Malene Degn (Denmark). A fourth Dutch rider closed out the top-10, featuring Inge van der Heijden (Netherlands), just ahead of Ffion James (Great Britain), who had a troubled opening lap.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annemarie Worst (Netherlands)||0:43:47|
|2||Ellen Noble (United States Of America)||0:00:10|
|3||Evie Richards (Great Britain)||0:00:26|
|4||Laura Verdonschot (Belgium)||0:01:08|
|5||Manon Bakker (Netherlands)||0:01:41|
|6||Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)||0:01:44|
|7||Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands)||0:02:17|
|8||Emma White (United States Of America)||0:02:37|
|9||Malene Degn (Denmark)||0:02:45|
|10||Inge Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)||0:02:57|
|11||Ffion James (Great Britain)||0:03:02|
|12||Helene Clauzel (France)||0:03:26|
|13||Chiara Teocchi (Italy)||0:03:31|
|14||Nicole Koller (Switzerland)||0:03:33|
|15||Evita Muzic (France)||0:03:57|
|16||Jana Czeczinkarova (Czech Republic)||0:03:58|
|17||Lisa Pasteiner (Austria)||0:03:59|
|18||Jade Wiel (France)||0:04:53|
|19||Nadja Heigl (Austria)||0:05:01|
|20||Silvia Persico (Italy)||0:05:14|
|21||Hannah Arensman (United States Of America)||0:05:21|
|22||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)||0:05:23|
|23||Sara Casasola (Italy)||0:05:32|
|24||Maina Galand (France)||0:05:37|
|25||Olivia Hottinger (Switzerland)||0:05:53|
|26||Ruby West (Canada)||0:06:03|
|27||Nicole Fede (Italy)||0:06:05|
|28||Kiyoka Sakaguchi (Japan)||0:06:15|
|29||Lara Krahemann (Switzerland)||0:06:28|
|30||Tereza Vanickova (Czech Republic)||0:06:35|
|31||Amira Mellor (Great Britain)||0:06:38|
|32||Agnieszka Szpocinska (Poland)||0:06:46|
|33||Jessica Lambracht (Germany)||0:06:57|
|34||Edie Antonia Rees (Luxembourg)||0:07:01|
|35||Patrycja Swierczynska (Poland)||0:07:14|
|36||Martina Kukulova (Czech Republic)||0:07:57|
|37||Emma Swartz (United States Of America)||0:08:08|
|38||Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)||0:08:13|
|39||Francesca Baroni (Italy)||0:08:49|
|40||Lindy Van Anrooij (Netherlands)||-1|
|41||Ashley Zoerner (United States Of America)||-2|
|42||Stacey Riedel (Australia)||-2|
|43||Olivia Nendick (Australia)||-3|
|DNF||Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Larissa Luttuschka (Germany)|