Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) managed her first cyclo-cross win of the season on Sunday. The 28-year-old British rider netted a big one, her first-ever World Cup victory. Harris won the fourth World Cup round of the season at the citadel in Namur, Belgium, ahead of Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement) and Eva Lechner (Colnago-SudTirol).
Italian champion Lechner takes over the lead in the World Cup standings from European champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), who had an off-day in Namur, finishing 14th.
Harris was delighted that she finally captured the big win of her dreams.
“I can’t quite believe it myself. I literally dreamed of winning a World Cup for so long. I’ve wanted to win a race the whole season. I kept trying, kept trying. Today I just took the lead and felt good. I’m so happy,” Harris said in the post-race flash interview.
Before the start of the race it was clear Lechner and Cant were up for a duel within the race as they were only 11 points apart of each other in the World Cup classification. Nevertheless, 62 other riders were aiming to race as hard as possible on the tough course around the Namur citadel. Straight from the start the riders faced a first uphill slope towards the top of the citadel. Lechner took the best start. Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) was the last rider who was able to hold the wheel of Lechner.
Halfway through the opening lap Lechner displayed her technical skills at the difficult off-camber descent, opening a gap on first chasers Harris, Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea), Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale). At the bottom of the course Harris and Van Loy bridged up to Lechner, briefly creating a lead group of three riders.
On the long forest trail back to the finish, Harris slowly climbed away from Lechner and Van Loy. Compton was alone at 12 seconds in fourth place after the opening lap, well ahead of Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF), Antonneau and Pavla Havlikova (MRM-Avalon). Cant struggled in her white World Cup leader’s jersey. The Belgian rider trailed Harris by half a minute, riding in a group for eighth place with Sanne van Paassen (Bioteaful) and Mani.
Cant was unable to keep up with Mani, who seemed to find a course that suited her to perfection in Namur. Mani rode away from Cant & Van Paassen, overtook Antonneau, Havlikova and closed in on Compton and De Boer, who rode for fourth place half a minute behind leader Harris. She rode around the technical course flawlessly, opening a gap of 20 seconds on Lechner and Van Loy. Cant was already more than a minute behind Harris.
Clearly Lechner and Van Loy were unable to come back on leader Harris, but behind them Mani was building on her momentum and kept moving up. Mani bridged up to Lechner and Van Loy. Behind her Compton and De Boer tried to keep up with the 28-year-old French rider. Lechner probably suffered from a mechanical and lost some ground before taking on a new bike at the end of the third lap.
On the long climb back towards the finish, Mani powered away. She clocked the fastest lap of all women on Sunday, still trailing Harris by 24 seconds. Van Loy and Compton kept Mani in sight, while De Boer and Lechner were 10 seconds further back. During the penultimate lap, Harris made no mistakes in front.
Mani dropped Compton for good while Van Loy faded back and found a hard-working Lechner on her tail. It seemed like Harris and Mani were sure of the top podium spots, while Compton, Van Loy, Lechner and even De Boer would battle for the final podium spot. Cant kept losing ground and was two minutes down on Harris.
Mani kept closing in on the leader but it was too late to reach out to Harris’ first World Cup victory. In the background, Lechner clearly kept the best for last, passing both Van Loy and Compton during the first half of the final lap. All three podium finishers raised their hands in the air when crossing the finishing line, showing their delight.
Compton finished just off the podium. Van Loy was pleased with her fifth place, throwing a fist in the air. The rest of the field worked hard to reach the finish line after a very hard race. Antonneau was a good ninth at 1:43. Aida Nuno Palacio was a new name in 12th place, two spots ahead of a disappointed Cant.
Lechner now leads the World Cup with 179 points. Cant trails her by 17 points. Harris moves into third place with 140 points, 17 more than Compton.
The next round of the World Cup will be on the world championships course in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, on Boxing Day.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Nikki Harris (GBr)||0:42:15|
|2||Caroline Mani (Fra)||0:00:10|
|3||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:00:32|
|4||Katherine Compton (USA)||0:00:39|
|5||Ellen Van Loy (Bel)||0:00:58|
|6||Sophie De Boer (Ned)||0:01:05|
|7||Jolien Verschueren (Bel)||0:01:22|
|8||Helen Wyman (GBr)||0:01:37|
|9||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA)||0:01:43|
|10||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned)||0:01:55|
|11||Pavla Havlikova (Cze)||0:02:08|
|12||Aida Nuno Palacio (Spa)||0:02:10|
|13||Thalita De Jong (Ned)||0:02:22|
|14||Sanne Cant (Bel)|
|15||Sanne Van Paassen (Ned)||0:02:23|
|16||Sabrina Stultiens (Ned)||0:02:40|
|17||Femke Van Den Driessche (Bel)||0:02:52|
|18||Ellen Noble (USA)||0:02:58|
|19||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)|
|20||Amanda Miller (USA)||0:03:14|
|21||Loes Sels (Bel)||0:03:41|
|22||Nadja Heigl (Aut)||0:03:54|
|23||Christine Majerus (Lux)||0:04:01|
|24||Chiara Teocchi (Ita)||0:04:03|
|25||Hannah Payton (GBr)|
|26||Emma White (USA)||0:04:10|
|27||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)||0:04:15|
|28||Elisabeth Brandau (Ger)|
|29||Crystal Anthony (USA)||0:04:26|
|30||Laure Bouteloup (Fra)||0:04:32|
|31||Mical Dyck (Can)||0:04:38|
|32||Juliette Labous (Fra)||0:04:46|
|33||Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe)||0:04:53|
|34||Bethany Crumpton (GBr)||0:04:59|
|35||Courtenay Mcfadden (USA)||0:05:08|
|36||Martina Mikulaskova (Cze)||0:05:11|
|37||Arley Kemmerer (USA)||0:05:13|
|38||Nikola Noskova (Cze)||0:05:23|
|39||Meredith Miller (USA)||0:05:26|
|40||Amira Mellor (GBr)||0:05:36|
|41||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa)||0:05:37|
|42||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)||0:05:40|
|43||Bianca Van Den Hoek (Ned)||0:06:15|
|44||Marlene Petit (Fra)||0:06:36|
|45||Esmee Oosterman (Ned)||0:06:41|
|46||Hélène Clauzel (Fra)||0:06:44|
|47||Mercedes Pacios Pujado (Spa)||0:06:50|
|48||Évita Muzic (Fra)||0:07:08|
|49||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa)||0:07:14|
|50||Manon Bakker (Ned)||0:07:24|
|51||Laura Verdonschot (Bel)||0:07:47|
|52||Angelica Edvardsson (Swe)||0:08:04|
|53||Olatz Odriozola Mujika (Spa)||0:08:27|
|54||Margriet Helena Kloppenburg (Den)|
|55||Eva Colin (Fra)|
|56||Jessica Lambracht (Ger)|
|57||Tiril Mohr (Nor)|
|58||Irene Trabazo Bragado (Spa)|
|59||Suzie Godart (Lux)|
|60||Natalie Redmond (Aus)|
|61||Monica Carrascosa (Spa)|
|62||Lina Rausch (Ger)|
|63||Mara Schwager (Ger)|