Eight months after becoming world champion in Zolder, Thalita de Jong captured her second jersey of the year on Sunday as she won the European title on a Sunday Sunday afternoon in Pont-Château, in the Loire-Atlantique region of France..
The 22-year-old Dutch rider gapped her rivals halfway through the race and reached the finish solo.
"It was such a nice feeling to come solo to the finish," De Jong said. "It was like a time-trial. I'm a specialist so it was good for me today. Of course I also want to get the third jersey at the national championships and of course again at the World championships."
Compatriot Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) was best of the rest, beating local favourite Caroline Mani (France) in the sprint for silver. Defending champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) eyed a third consecutive European title but she only managed a sixth place.
The course at the Coët Roz forest holds a lot of cyclo-cross history. Pont-Château previously organised the European championships in 2005 and the World Championships in 1989 and 2004. The first half of the undulating course on the Coët Roz domain twists a lot. Halfway through the 2620-metre-long lap there are two sets of stairs. The key obstacle of the course features at the end with a long climb topped with two barriers and another long climb towards the finish.
Straight after the start the two British riders among the 29 starters took each other out. Helen Wyman was unable to avoid touching the rear wheel of Nikki Brammeier in the first corner and both riders went down at high speed. Jolien Verschueren (Belgium) also lost contact with the main group in the crash.
Only 18 riders survived the scrummage after the start. Due to the demanding nature of the course the front group was quickly reduced in numbers thanks to the pace set by Sophie de Boer (Netherlands), Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) and Mani. By the time De Jong moved to the front in the third of seven laps the front group was down to seven riders: De Jong, Brand, De Boer, Cant, Ellen Van Loy (Belgium), Mani and Alice Maria Arzuffi.
A first acceleration from De Jong on the climb towards the barriers created severe damage. Only Cant and Brand managed to keep up. One lap later De Jong accelerated again on the long climb and this time Cant and Brand bowed their heads. Brand quickly dropped back into the chase group and tried to recover for the last lap. During the following lap Cant tried to keep De Jong in sight but when reaching the long climb again she came to a complete standstill, clearing having blown her engine. At that time it was clear that De Jong would cruise to victory.
"What a race... In the beginning I was thinking to take it easy and follow. Then I took the front position and on the hardest part of the course, after the stairs, I sped up a little and saw I had a gap and pushed a little bit. Then every lap I had a bigger gap," De Jong said.
In the battle for second place Jolien Verschueren suddenly appeared when hitting the penultimate lap. During the remaining lap she tried to shake off Mani, Brand and Cant but only the latter cracked. Brand had most left in the sprint, beating Mani and Verschueren. Arzuffi was a surprising name in fifth place, finishing ahead of Cant and Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic).
Next year the European championships are held in Tábor, Czech Republic.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Thalita De Jong (Netherlands)||0:43:14|
|2||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:00:17|
|3||Caroline Mani (France)|
|4||Jolien Verschueren (Belgium)||0:00:22|
|5||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)||0:00:30|
|6||Sanne Cant (Belgium)||0:00:48|
|7||Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)||0:01:00|
|8||Sophie De Boer (Netherlands)||0:01:03|
|9||Ellen An Loy (Belgium)||0:01:18|
|10||Perrine Clauzel (France)||0:01:22|
|11||Marlene Petit (France)||0:01:51|
|12||Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)||0:02:08|
|13||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||0:02:53|
|14||Olatz Odriozola Mujika (Spain)||0:03:04|
|15||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)|
|16||Martina Mikulaskova (Czech Republic)||0:04:00|
|17||Alicia Franck (Belgium)||0:04:47|
|18||Elisabeth Sveum (Norway)||0:05:22|
|19||Fanny Stumpf (France)|
|DNF||Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Helen Wyman (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Lise-Marie Henzelin (Switzerland)|