Brand eyes cyclo-cross world title in Denmark, Vos a contender too

Lucinda Brand is aiming to bring the Netherlands its next rainbow jersey at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, held February 2-3, 2019, in Bogense, Denmark. The Sunweb rider will start her off-road racing reason in November in preparation for the Worlds, where she said her compatriot, Marianne Vos, will also be a contender for the title.

"I'll start my cyclo-cross racing at some point in the beginning of November," Brand told Cyclingnews in September during an interview at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, where she raced with the Dutch national team that won the individual time trial with Annemiek Van Vleuten and the road race with Anna van der Breggen.

"I'll need to skip the European Championships, which are in my home country, but if I want to compete there then I want to do it well, and I don't think I can be in good enough shape after my rest period because I'll still need to train."

Brand capped off a successful 2017-2018 cyclo-cross season in February after finishing on the podium at the World Championships in Valkenburg, on home soil in the Netherlands, behind winner Sanne Cant (Belgium) and runner-up Katie Compton (USA).

She has raced a compete road season with Team Sunweb, peaking at the Giro Rosa in July and then maintaining top condition through to the Innsbruck road Worlds, where she was part of the Sunweb team that placed third in the team time trial.

She has taken one month off her bike but planned to resume cyclo-cross in November with a goal of finishing in a better place than she did last year at the cyclo-cross Worlds in Denmark – perhaps even winning.

"I always planned to take a big month off before starting cyclo-cross, as I needed some rest after a long road season," Brand said.

"It's sad to skip the European Championships but it's smarter to look to the future. I definitely want to go for a podium, or even win, at the World Championships, so I want to look toward that this year."

Vos returns to winning form in cyclo-cross

Brand was following the first three rounds of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup that began in the US in Waterloo and Iowa City in September, and then in Bern, Switzerland, in October, from afar. Her compatriot, Vos, who has decided to compete in a full cyclo-cross season this year, won the round in Waterloo, finished third in Iowa City, and then won the third round in Bern.

She has also won the Kiremko Nacht van Woerden, the Hotondcross and placed second in the Superprestige Gieten before winning the round in Ruddervoorde. Brand said that it's exciting to see Vos competing so well in cyclo-cross because she brings a special energy to the racing scene.

"I've been watching how Marianne had to suffer a lot to win the races, but it has been exciting," Brand said. "It looks as though she will be in contention for another world title, if you see how she has been racing again."

Vos is a seven-time cyclo-cross world champion, winning her titles in 2006 and 2009-2014. She took time off in 2015, citing injuries and then overtraining issues, but has had two strong road seasons in 2017 and 2018. This year, she won a stage at the Giro Rosa, the overall title at the BeNe Ladies Tour, the Women's WorldTour race in Vargarda, and the Ladies Tour of Norway, where she won all three stages.

Brand said that Vos' current form and her palmarès as a world champion will make her a top contender for an eighth cyclo-cross world title in Denmark.

"We definitely need to take her into account if she doesn't get sick or injured, because you never know what can happen, and those things could happen to all of us," Brand said.

"She brings excitement to the sport, and she makes racing hard. I think we definitely need to look at her for a world title."

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