It was a roller-coaster ride, but Lucinda Brand emerged from the mud in Overijse to claim victory in the 2018 Vlaamse Druivencross after a dramatic tussle with Nikki Brammeier.
The Dutch champion fell several times in another muddy edition of the race, struggling particularly on a steep descent in the latter part of the course.
In a see-saw race, the lead changed hands between Brand and Brammeier on numerous occasions, the former appearing stronger on the ascents but weaker on the descents.
Brand led the race into the penultimate lap but ceded the lead when she fell again on the late descent, leaving Brammeier to take the bell in pole position. However, on a steep uphill section late into the race she couldn't find the power and was forced to proceed on foot, allowing Brand through.
There must have been plenty of nerves as she took on that vicious descent for the final time but this time she made no mistake and crossed the line alone to take victory.
Brammeier finished second, while Eva Lechner took the final podium spot.
"It was a hard-fought battle," Brand told Belgian TV channel Sporza. "Every time I started to go downhill, it just went wrong, so maybe I have to ride a bit more open-mindedly. I'm grateful to the spectators who took care of me now and then."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb||0:47:20|
|2||Nikki Brammeier (GBr) Mudiita||0:00:11|
|3||Eva Lechner (Ita) Creafin Tüv Sud||0:01:34|
|4||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) Steylaerts - 777||0:02:18|
|5||Loes Sels (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:02:20|
|6||Ffion James (GBr)||0:02:21|
|7||Harriet Harnden (GBr)||0:02:47|
|8||Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra)||0:03:53|
|9||Shirin Van Anrooij (Ned)||0:04:32|
|10||Pauline Delhaye (Fra)||0:05:01|
|11||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)||0:05:26|
|12||Maddie Wadsworth (GBr)||0:07:01|
|13||Geerte Hoeke (Ned) Creafin Tüv Sud||0:07:02|
|14||Mari-Liis Mõttus (Est)||0:07:44|
|15||Corey Coogan Cisek (USA)|
|16||Tess Van Loy (Bel)|
|17||Diana Steffenhagen (Ger)|
|18||Tine Rombouts (Bel)|
|DNF||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions|
|DNF||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)|
|DNF||Elle Anderson (USA)|
|DNF||Lindy Van Anrooij (Ned)|