Elite Women: Louisville
Powerful, graceful, flawless - Marianne Vos reigned supreme for the fifth straight year, placing her sixth career elite women’s cyclo-cross world alongside her two road race rainbow jerseys and a pair of Olympic gold medals in Louisville, Kentucky.
American Katie Compton had a poor start, but chased valiantly to win the silver medal.
The battle for bronze looked to go to the Czech Republic for the second race in a row, but Katerina Nash heartbreakingly suffered chain problems in the sprint and was overtaken by Lucie Chainel-Lefevere for the bronze.
“A world championship is always special,” Vos said. “For me, the pressure is going up every year because everyone expects you to win. Of course, if you already won it five times, they think you can win it for the sixth time. They think it will be easy, but I was kind of nervous. The difficult moments were in the past two weeks.”
“This was a really good day. I had a good feeling from the beginning. In these conditions you have to keep concentrated from start to finish and make no mistakes. You need a special day to do that, but it helps to be in the lead so you can race your own race.”
Following the example of her compatriot Mathieu van der Poel who crushed the junior men’s field, Vos gave no mercy to her fellow elite women, although she waited until longer to make her move.
No other athlete in cycling history has dominated year round as Vos has, and it was no different in Louisville. Despite rapidly changing course conditions as the sun began to melt the morning’s snow, Vos was only in reach of the other racers on the first lap, but as soon as she had sized up her competition she shifted into another gear and motored away.
“Today during the race in the first lap, I felt a bit uncomfortable on the course because it had changed a bit due to the conditions,” Vos said. “From then on, I was in first place and held my own pace.”
For Compton, the return from her first lap technical problems was a matter of pride, and she said she considered her accomplishment “winning the silver” instead of simply coming second.
“I had a great race – getting second to Marianne isn’t too shabby,” she said.
In addition to an issue with her chain skipping that was solved by swapping bikes in the pits early on, Compton said her first lap was fraught with mistakes.
“I got stuck in traffic and I went from third spot to top ten maybe, and then I had to wait to pass. I just kept making silly mistakes and trying to get around where I shouldn’t have. After a couple laps I had to regroup, relax and refocus on being smoother. Then I started chasing people down, and it went from there.
“Luckily I’ve had lots of practice chasing on and recovering from crappy starts, so I figured what’s one more. I did what I could, it was thinking more about damage control.
“The thought of not winning a medal here was heartbreaking. There was no way in hell that was going to happen. I rode with a lot of heart – I did everything I could.”
Compton avoided a crash early in the last lap took down some of the back markers, including Americans Georgia Gould and Meredith Miller.
The first leading group emerged on the first half lap, with Vos hanging back with Chainel-Lefevere, with mountain bike specialist Eva Lechner (Italy), Christel Ferrier Bruneau (France) and Vos’s teammate Sanne van Paassen holding a gap over a large group with Compton, Nash, Cant and others.
Vos shredded the leading group with a blistering acceleration on the second lap as the sun came out and began to melt the top layer of the course. Quickly establishing her intentions, the Olympic road champion opened up an unbeatable gap.
By the end of the second lap Nash was surging forward to join Lechner and van Paasen, followed by Compton in fifth, while Chainel struggled on the runs and lost a few positions.
Compton recovered from her poor opening laps to chase her way up to the leading group, and by the midpoint had moved into a medal position. However, by the time she found van Paassen’s wheel and pushed past into second place, Vos already had more than a minute’s lead.
Compton quickly pulled away from the chase while van Paassen and Lechner’s earlier efforts took their toll. Although the American was superior from the other silver medal contenders, she continued to lose time on the Vos locomotive into the final lap.
Nash distanced the other chasers and looked set to secure the bronze, with Chainel leaving van Paasen behind for fourth, but a bobble by Nash on the last part of the course allowed Chainel to catch up.
Nash got back in front for the sprint, but had problems with her chain and had to dismount and run to the line, missing out on the medal to the Frenchwoman, but holding on for fourth just ahead of van Paassen and Lechner.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:43:00|
|2||Katherine Compton (United States Of America)||0:01:34|
|3||Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (France)||0:02:10|
|4||Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)||0:02:12|
|5||Sanne Van Paassen (Netherlands)||0:02:15|
|6||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:02:17|
|7||Jasmin Achermann (Switzerland)||0:02:36|
|8||Sabrina Stultiens (Netherlands)||0:03:06|
|9||Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)||0:03:18|
|10||Kaitlin Antonneau (United States Of America)||0:03:19|
|11||Amy Dombroski (United States Of America)||0:03:26|
|12||Annie Last (Great Britain)||0:03:36|
|13||Helen Wyman (Great Britain)||0:04:02|
|14||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)||0:04:09|
|15||Jade Wilcoxson (United States Of America)||0:04:14|
|16||Emily Batty (Canada)||0:04:17|
|17||Georgia Gould (United States Of America)||0:04:24|
|18||Sanne Cant (Belgium)||0:04:26|
|19||Mical Dyck (Canada)||0:04:39|
|20||Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)||0:04:46|
|21||Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (France)||0:04:48|
|22||Wendy Simms (Canada)||0:04:56|
|23||Francesca Cauz (Italy)||0:05:07|
|24||Pepper Harlton (Canada)||0:05:22|
|25||Gabriella Day (Great Britain)||0:06:36|
|-1lap||Ayako Toyooka (Japan)|
|-1lap||Julie Lafreniere (Canada)|
|-1lap||Genevieve Whitson (New Zealand)|
|-1lap||Martina Mikulaskova (Czech Republic)|
|-2laps||Chika Fukumoto (Japan)|
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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