Sanne Cant (Iko-Beobank) defended her cyclo-cross title for a 10th season at the Belgian Cyclo-cross Championships on Saturday in Kruibeke. With the exception of one minor bobble in the mud, the current world champion rode a technically superb race taking a solo victory 16 seconds ahead of Loes Sels (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) in second and by over a minute ahead of third-placed Laura Verdonschot (Marlux-Bingoal). Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) finished a distant fourth.
“It became more and more difficult and after a while I started wondering what I was doing,” Cant said in a post-race flash interview. “But I’m very happy with the victory.”
Cant covered four laps of the course in just over 52 minutes, which is longer than the UCI’s regulated duration for elite women’s races. The UCI sets the duration of elite women's cyclo-cross events between 40 and 50 minutes, whereby the number of laps they complete are calculated and announced at the end of the second lap. Cant has criticized race organisers for offering too short, 40-minute races or less, this season.
“This course was really long,” Cant said. “Only at the World Championships in Valkenburg were we on the course for longer.”
Cant won the world title in Valkenburg last year where the elite women raced for 49:34.
How it unfolded
The race in Kruibeke thinned out early on with Cant, Sels and Van Loy putting pressure on the rest of the field during the opening lap. The trio separated themselves from their rivals, but the slippery and technical course was always going to force small splits among the contenders for the title.
Cant applied some pressure over the off-camber mud sections, and what started out as just a sliver of a gap, soon pushed out to 15 seconds over Sels. Sels remained Cant’s nearest rival and she held the gap at roughly 20 second for the three subsequent laps.
Van Loy looked as though she might close in on Sels mid-race, however, she slid out on the off-camber and lost valuable seconds in the race for second place.
It wasn’t long before Verdonschot, who crashed in the opening lap, made her way forward, separating herself from a cluster of riders that had a slower start. She orbited the course faster than Van Loy and eventually took over the third-place position with two laps to go.
Not even a crash midway through the race was enough to stop Cant from securing the coveted Belgian cyclo-cross title for a tenth time. She quickly picked herself up, changed bikes in the pits, and then built her lead back up to 20 seconds on Sels through the last lap, plus a minute to Verdonschot and more than three minutes to Van Loy.
Crossing the line behind the top four were Joyce Vanderbeken, Karen Verhestraeten, Axelle Bellaert, Marthe Truyen, Jinse Peeters and Kim van de Putte, who round out the top 10 in Kruibeke.
The junior women raced with the elites, but completed one circuit less for a total of three laps. Julie De Wilde, 16, won the title ahead Tessa Zwaenepoel and Kiona Crabbé.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel) Corendon - Circus||0:52:10|
|2||Loes Sels (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:00:17|
|3||Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Marlux - Bingoal||0:01:57|
|4||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:03:43|
|5||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)||0:04:20|
|6||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)||0:04:25|
|7||Axelle Bellaert (Bel)||0:05:07|
|8||Marthe Truyen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:05:48|
|9||Jinse Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice||0:06:12|
|10||Kim Van De Putte (Bel)||0:07:45|
|11||Shana Maes (Bel)||0:09:29|
|12||Meg De Bruyne (Bel)||0:11:35|
|13||Jana Dobbelaere (Bel)||0:12:57|
|14||Laure Michels (Bel)||0:14:18|
|15||Lise Van Wunsel (Bel)||0:14:41|
|16||Kristien Nelen (Bel)||0:14:45|
|17||Liene Meeusen (Bel)||0:14:56|
|18||Aurelie Vermeir (Bel)||0:15:41|
|19||Adeline Moreau (Bel)|
|20||Lara Defour (Bel)|
|21||Tine Rombouts (Bel)|
|22||Tinne Vermeiren (Bel)|
|23||Nele De Vos (Bel)|
|24||Valerie Boonen (Bel)|
|25||Jo Blanchaert (Bel)|
|26||Sara Beeckmans (Bel)|
|27||Katleen Fraeye (Bel)|
|28||Naomi De Roeck (Bel)|
|DNF||Suzanne Verhoeven (Bel)|
|DNF||Caren Commissaris (Bel)|
|DNS||Kim Van De Steene (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex|
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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