Under 23 riders take over top steps of women's World Cup podium at Overijse

OVERIJSE BELGIUM OCTOBER 31 LR Puck Pieterse of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin Fenix and Blanka Vas Kata of Hungary Team SD Worx compete during the 62nd Druivencross Overijse UCI CycloCross Worldcup 2021 Womens Elite DruivencrossOverijse CXWorldCup UCIcyclocrossWC on October 31 2021 in Overijse Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) and race winner Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx) at the Cyclo-cross World Cup at Overijse (Image credit: Getty Images)

It was a Cyclo-Cross World Cup for the under 23 riders in the women’s race at Overijse, with 20-year-old Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx) and 19-year-old Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) relegating world champion and series leader Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) to the final spot of the podium on Sunday. 

The strong showing from the U23s, who in the women’s category race alongside the elite riders, was enough to leave Brand joking, “I think it's time for an elite category” as if the the classification had raced separately she would have won.

“You can make a little joke of it, but of course it's just really good to see that there is such a follow-up – and fortunately not only from the Netherlands,” Brand said in comments on Dutch website Wielerflits.

Dutch Pieterse and Hungarian Vas are now sitting third and fourth in the elite series standings after the fifth round, and it’s not just the pair that took the top two steps of the podium at Overijse that are making their mark near the top of the results either. Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) and Fem van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) are in the top ten of the series standings as well.

It was the skills of race winner Vas and second-placed Pieterse in the slippery conditions on Sunday that won the admiration of the Zonhoven winner, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), who came fourth at Overijse.

“These girls are just super technical,” Betsema told Wielerflits. “I really need to learn from that. I also tried to follow the tracks a bit. But if you make a mistake and you fall behind, then you have to chase.”

The next Cyclo-cross World Cup round takes place in Tabor on November 14, though after the World Cup round many of the riders are heading straight into ​​ Koppenbergcross in Oudenaarde on November 1, which for the women’s race has been renamed the Grand Prix Jolien Verschueren in honour of the Belgian 2015 and 2016 race winner, who died of cancer in July.

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