Elite Women: Niel
Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions) won the Jaarmarktcross in the third round of the Superprestige series on Wednesday, beating world champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado to the line in a sprint.
Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) claimed the final podium spot just a second behind, having been gapped slightly from the lead trio on the final lap.
Alvarado was the big favourite, having won the two opening rounds of the 2020 Superprestige, but had to bow to Brand, who was third at Gieten and Ruddervoorde, as the pair sprinted for the line after 40 minutes of racing.
Whereas Alvarado was never more than a couple of places from the front, Brand had a quiet start but grew into the race and started to put the hammer down on the fourth of five laps of a redesigned course that featured deep mud, steep bankings, and an an artificial sand box.
While the race stretched out on the opening lap, it started to split on the second. A key development came when Annemarie Worst (777), who was runner-up in both Superprestige races so far and who had been first out of the blocks, crashed as she hit the mud off a sharp descent. She then found herself with a dropped chain and spent the rest of the race chasing at around 40 seconds. Despite picking off riders and finishing fifth, she got no closer to the front of the race.
At the end of that second lap, Betsema was driving the pace with Alvarado for company out front, while Yara Kastelijn (Credishop-Fristads) chased ahead of teammate Manon Bakker and Brand. At 20 seconds were Sanne Cant (Iko-Crelan), Laura Verdonschot (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), and Kata Blanka Vas (Doltcini-Van Eyck), while Worst was at 40 seconds.
The third lap saw Betsema, Alvarado and Kastelijn link up, while Brand started to make a move by dropping Bakker. She then made contact early on lap 4, taking advantage of a Betsema stumble on a steep banking. Brand wasn't content to merely be part of the group; she immediately started forcing the pace, with Kastelijn dropped.
On the final lap, Betsema tried to take control briefly but Brand pushed her way back to the front. Betsema again lost a little ground on the steep banking and was slightly off going into the late sand pit. Alvarado was equal to Brand through there, but when she tried to come around in the home straight, she was powerless.
Alvarado retains her lead in the Superprestige overall standings, with 44 points, but Brand has now closed in on 41.
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