Sanne Cant won her 13th consecutive Belgian Cyclo-cross National Championship on Saturday, crossing the line in Middelkerke 54 seconds ahead of Marion Norbert Riberolle. Third place went to Laura Verdonschot.
Coming off a fourth-place finish in Harentals on Wednesday, Cant mastered the wet, windy and cold conditions in Middelkerke with ease to extend her streak of national titles, which began in January 2010.
Notably absent from the start line due to a was Ellen Van Loy, who has finished fifth or better since 2013 but never the gold medal. She tested positive for COVID-19 and announced on her Twitter feed early Saturday morning, “I wasn’t expecting this, but I’m sure it will pass…”
Four of the favourites shot to the front of the race Cant, Alicia Franck, Norbert Riberolle and Lotte Kopecky, who had started in the second row. Chasing the small gap was Verdonschot in fifth place.
The first issue surfaced with Franck losing contact with the group when she dismounted in the sand and replaced a dropped chain. Norbert Riberolle, who almost caused the entire lead group to crash on the first lap, pressed ahead with a strong pace for the leaders, but Cant didn’t wait long, and made a pass to take control at the front and create a gap.
With two laps completed, Cant had a seven-second gap on Norbert Riberolle. Fighting for third place was Kopecky and Verdonschot.
National road champion Kopecky looked to fight fatigue more so than Verdonschot as the race progressed, lowering her pace and taking a fall with two laps to go. This allowed Franck to overtake her fourth-place position.
Meanwhile, Cant continued to ride alone at the front with a 32-second advantage over Norbert Riberolle and another 1:15 ahead of Verdonschot. She continued her strong pace on the final lap to extend her lead and held on for her first victory of the season. Franck held on for fourth and Kopecky was fifth, both missing the podium on which they had landed in 2021.
"From the moment I could do my own thing and have the free space, I felt like I could pull away fairly quickly and then it was a bit of a battle against the wind today," Cant told Wielerflits about her solo ride to victory and course conditions.
“I also started with full slicks and already felt in the first lap that the rain had come to an end. Then I made a lot of sliders in one round and decided to switch to slightly coarser tubes to build in a little more security. So it was quite tough."
She admitted it was “getting harder and harder” to repeat as national champion and appreciates every victory. “That it used to be self-evident is now less and less. That is why I am starting to attach more importance to it.”
The women’s under-23 title was taken by Kiona Crabbé, who finished eighth overall. Julie Brouwers was the silver medalist and Sterre Vervloet took bronze, the pair riding to 13th and 14th overall, respectively.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:50:59|
|2||Marion Norbert Riberolle (Bel) Starcasino CX Team||0:01:08|
|3||Laura Verdonschot (Bel)||0:01:40|
|4||Alicia Franck (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:02:58|
|5||Lotte Kopecky (Bel)||0:03:20|
|6||Marthe Truyen (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:03:37|
|7||Suzanne Verhoeven (Bel)||0:03:46|
|8||Kiona Crabbé (Bel)||0:04:20|
|9||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:04:29|
|10||Jana Dobbelaere (Bel) Starcasino CX Team||0:04:43|
|11||Fauve Bastiaenssen (Bel) Pissei - Groep T.O.M||0:04:48|
|12||Jinse Peeters (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:05:59|
|13||Julie Brouwers (Bel)||0:06:24|
|14||Sterre Vervloet (Bel)||0:07:15|
|15||Marthe Goossens (Bel)||0:07:28|
|16||Meg De Bruyne (Bel)||0:07:57|
|17||Tessa Zwaenepoel (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:08:06|
|18||Cato Cassiers (Bel) Starcasino CX Team||0:08:40|
|19||Shana Maes (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team|
|20||Febe Schokkaert (Bel)|
|21||Audrey De Keersmaeker (Bel) Starcasino CX Team|
|22||Lotte Baele (Bel)|
|23||Lise Van Wunsel (Bel)|
|24||Eva Vermeersch (Bel)|
|25||Kiona Dhont (Bel)|
|26||Lara Defour (Bel)|
|27||Tine Rombouts (Bel)|
|28||Kim Van de Steene (Bel)|
|29||Floor Van Elsacker (Bel)|
|30||Caren Commissaris (Bel)|
|31||Naomi De Roeck (Bel)|
|32||Christine Verdonck (Bel)|
|33||Rosanne Breugelmans (Bel) Pissei - Groep T.O.M|
|34||Adeline Moreau (Bel)|
|35||Nele De Vos (Bel)|
|36||Fiona Mertens (Bel)|
|37||Sara Beeckmans (Bel)|
|38||Emily De Cuyper (Bel)|
|39||Kim Knaeps (Bel)|
|40||Aurélie Vermeir (Bel)|
|41||Florine Arlon (Bel)|
|42||Machalina Dereere (Bel)|
|43||Jo Blanchaert (Bel)|
|44||Jolisa Verschueren (Bel)|
|45||Jasmira Nobus (Bel)|
|DNF||Loes Sels (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT|
|DNF||Lies´L Schevenels (Bel)|
|DNF||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)|
|DNS||Ellen Van Loy (Bel)|
|DNS||Tinne Vermeiren (Bel)|
|DNS||Anja Nobus (Bel)|
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