Annemarie Worst led home a dominant Dutch team at the UEC Cyclo-cross Championships on Sunday, winning her first major title at the elite level. The 22-year-old beat her heavily decorated compatriot Marianne Vos, with Denise Betsema making it an all-Dutch podium.
Defending champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) battled hard but could not break the Dutch stronghold and had to settle for fourth place.
"I can’t believe it, it was such a hard race," Worst said afterwards. "In the final three laps I was riding in the first place and every lap I was trying to get away. In one of the last laps, I went and I thought I had to go all the way."
There were some cameo appearances from other nations, but the elite women’s race at the UEC Cyclo-cross Championships would prove to be a competition between the Netherlands and Belgium. The race would be contested over five laps of a challenging circuit that hardly gave the riders a chance to catch their breath.
Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) got off to a strong start and distanced the rest of the pack, with Luxembourg’s Christine Majerus the only rider that could hold onto her early on. Van Loy would continue to drive the pace as a battle raged behind her. Majerus lost ground as the first lap continued and slipped back.
Heading into the second lap, Van Loy was still in the lead but she now had the company of Worst, Cant and Vos. Before long, Loes Sels (Belgium) would make it five at the front of the race with a group of eight chasing behind. Betsema and Laura Verdonschot (Belgium) attacked from the chase group later on lap two but only Betsema had the legs to make contact with the leaders.
The technical part of the course was difficult, even for the most experienced, and mistakes forced several of the riders in the lead group to keep in touch. Worst seemed one of the most comfortable, and she used the technical section to launch her move on the penultimate lap. Helped by her teammate Betsema leaving a small gap, Worst built up what proved to be a crucial advantage.
It was here that the Dutch dominance began to show as they chased down their teammate. After being on the front right from the start, Van Loy lost touch with the chasing group, as did Sels, who was one of those who had yo-yoed off the back earlier in the race.
Cant was the only member of the Belgian team that could stay with the Dutch, but the world champion and last year’s winner also struggled to keep up. Worst’s gap was never big, and she had just nine seconds on those behind as she began the final lap. That would be reduced to just two seconds as two-time European Champion Vos tracked her down.
However, Worst had done enough and she was able to sit up and celebrate as she crossed the line. Betsema gave Vos a run for her money in the sprint but the elder of the two held her own to take the silver.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annemarie Worst (Netherlands)||0:40:24|
|2||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:00:02|
|3||Denise Betsema (Netherlands)|
|4||Sanne Cant (Belgium)||0:00:10|
|5||Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)||0:00:31|
|6||Loes Sels (Belgium)||0:00:37|
|7||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)||0:01:08|
|8||Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain)||0:01:16|
|9||Helen Wyman (Great Britain)||0:01:21|
|10||Laura Verdonschot (Belgium)||0:01:26|
|11||Kim Van De Steene (Belgium)||0:01:28|
|12||Pavla Havlíková (Czech Republic)||0:01:36|
|13||Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)||0:02:13|
|14||Karla Štěpánová (Czech Republic)||0:02:23|
|15||Lizzy Witlox (Netherlands)||0:02:37|
|16||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||0:02:53|
|17||Rebecca Gariboldi (Italy)||0:02:58|
|18||Zina Barhoumi (Switzerland)||0:02:59|
|19||Geerte Hoeke (Netherlands)||0:03:29|
|20||Bethany Crumpton (Great Britain)||0:03:52|
|21||Stefanie Paul (Germany)||0:03:53|
|22||Nadja Heigl (Austria)||0:04:04|
|23||Ida Erngren (Sweden)||0:04:05|
|24||Viktoria Smidth Knudsen (Denmark)||0:04:55|
|DNF||Kristina Thrane (Denmark)|