Alvarado dominates Superprestige Merksplas

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Deceuninck) claimed her second straight Superprestige victory, dominating in Merksplas on Saturday. 

The former world champion, who'd endured a rough couple of seasons before her victory in Niel last weekend, went solo on the first lap and was never seen again.  

Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) finished best of the rest after a long and futile chase, crossing the line 18 seconds down. Inge van der Heijden (777) rounded out the podium at 26 seconds.

"It certainly wasn't easy today, even though it seemed that way," said Alvarado.  

"I had to keep fighting on a very tough circuit. I had hoped to continue my performance from Niel, I'm happy that I managed to win again today."

Alvarado described how she had a "lead-out" from multiple World Champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who flew out of the traps but soon dropped back and eventually finished down in 10th. 

"I was a bit lucky with Marianne Vos' good lead-out. She dropped back and I got clear track," Alvarado said. 

Alvarado made light work of the varied course, which even featured a sector of cobblestones on a circuit that also took in sand, mud, bridges and forests. 

After Vos faded, the rider she ousted as world champion earlier this year, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions), made a couple of errors and paid the price, finishing fourth at 33 seconds. 

Betsema and Van der Heyden gave chase and rode most of the race together but weren't able to claw back an unfaltering Alvarado. Betsema left her companion behind on the final lap but by that point it was a contest for the minor placings. 

After Brand crossed the line, 18-year-old Zoe Backstedt rounded out the top five with another highly impressive display.

Fem van Empel, who's shone so far this season, was not racing, and neither were Shirin van Anrooij or Puck Pieterse. The highest non-European finisher was the USA's Clara Honsinger in ninth place. 

Victory for Alvarado also propelled her into the overall lead of the Superprestige series. She now ties Betsema on 43 points but takes top spot given she has won two races to Betsema's one.

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