Cyclo-Cross World Championships: Alvarado wins elite women's title after three-way Dutch battle

Youngster Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands) captured the world title at the UCI Cyclo-cross World championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland on a windy Saturday afternoon. Alvarado held off her compatriots Annemarie Worst and Lucinda Brand in the sprint after a thrilling race on the mostly dry and flat course at the military airbase near Zürich. 

After a difficult season, defending triple champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) finished on a distant 12th place at 3:32 from winner Alvarado.

The 21-year-old winner originally planned to race in the women's under-23 category but after capturing the Dutch national cyclo-cross title last month she decided to test her luck in the elite category, with tremendous success. 

Last week Alvarado narrowly missed out on the overall UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup victory but one week later that disappointment was wiped away. After crossing the finish line, Alvarado burst into tears.

"Right now, I'm feeling very tired. It's an indescribable feeling, to finally be world champion," Alvarado said in the post-race flash interview. The Dutch selection dominated the race and quickly rode away with the podium positions. 

"The other riders will feel disappointed. It was a very tight and close battle between the Dutch riders. I'm very happy that I could finish first," Alvarado said.

How it unfolded

In a thrilling final lap, World Cup winner Worst seemed to have her rivals under control. Brand was struggling throughout the race to keep up with her two younger compatriots on the short  run-ups and was unable to turn it around in the final. Worst put Alvarado under pressure and gained a small bonus. 

Nevertheless, both Brand and Alvarado managed to bounce back and approach the final obstacle together. 

Worst entered the final corner in the lead with Alvarado glued on her wheel; Brand was too far to sprint along. After a third place in 2018 and second place in 2019, she was unable to continue improving her results at worlds. 

"It was very difficult. We were a close match to each other. I had mechanical problems too and that didn't help. I came back a couple of times. It wasn't easy. When my saddle broke I had to stand on the pedals and my legs were full of lactic acid. We quickly managed to turn the race into a battle among us. For our country it's good that it was a clean fight", Brand told Sporza tv.

In contrast to Worst, her winning sprint over Alvarado in the penultimate World Cup round in Nommay from two weeks ago, she was unable to hold off Alvarado. Worst possibly used too much energy in the battle for positions during the final lap and didn't kick off her sprint in the corner while Alvarado showed she still had a powerful kick in her legs to sprint to the world title. 

"To be honest I was very tired in the last lap. I didn't think I would win it today. The pace dropped when approaching the last bridge. It was the opportunity to make my final move, with everything I had. I did it until the finish line," Alvarado said.

On the podium, Alvarado received her gold medal and the rainbow jersey from UCI-president David Lappartient. A few moments later an emotional Alvarado was flanked by a devastated Worst and Brand when the Wilhelmus national anthem was played and three Dutch flags were raised.

The triple Dutch podium at the 2020 World championships didn't come as a major surprise after the trio dominated the rest of the field throughout the season while exchanging the wins among them. 

Three times consecutive world champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) never managed to mix in with the Dutch women and was no more than an outsider in Dübendorf. Straight away, Cant tumbled out of the top-10 and never got back into contention. 

Seven-fold world champion Marianne Vos opted to skip the World Championships after finishing fifth at the Dutch national championships, where Alvarado won and decided to race worlds in the elite category. Vos then ended her cyclo-cross season early and underwent surgery to correct a nod in an artery in her groin. 

There would be a new world champion in Dübendorf and Alvarado grabbed her chance.

At long distance from the Dutch trio, Katie Compton (USA) - a five-fold podium finisher at Worlds - rode a strong race that led her to fourth place at one minute from the winner. Compton was held back by compatriot Clara Honsinger (USA) in the start; the latter quickly ended up abandoning the race. 

Together with young Evie Richards (Great-Britain) the American veteran steadily moved up through the field in the first half of the five-laps long race. Richards then failed to keep up with Compton when she passed Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) and young Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands). Kastelijn was fifth ahead of Richards. 

Veteran Eva Lechner (Italy) rode her best race of the season and finished seventh ahead of Van Loy, Laura Verdonschot (Belgium) and Marlene Petit (France). A few moment later, Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) preceded defending champion Cant.

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Full Results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands) 0:45:20
2Annemarie Worst (Netherlands) 0:00:01
3Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) 0:00:10
4Katherine Compton (United States Of America) 0:01:00
5Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands) 0:01:26
6Evie Richards (Great Britain) 0:01:44
7Eva Lechner (Italy) 0:02:25
8Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) 0:02:46
9Laura Verdonschot (Belgium) 0:02:52
10Marlène Petit (France) 0:03:06
11Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) 0:03:19
12Sanne Cant (Belgium) 0:03:32
13Rebecca Fahringer (United States Of America) 0:03:35
14Maghalie Rochette (Canada) 0:03:37
15Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) 0:03:38
16Caroline Mani (France) 0:04:01
17Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy) 0:04:05
18Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain) 0:04:08
19Geerte Hoeke (Netherlands) 0:04:10
20Aida Nuño Palacio (Spain) 0:04:11
21Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) 0:04:24
22Perrine Clauzel (France) 0:05:09
23Zina Barhoumi (Switzerland) 0:05:15
24Pavla Havlíková (Czech Republic) 0:05:33
25Bethany Crumpton (Great Britain) 0:06:20
26Nadja Heigl (Austria) 0:07:30
27Jennifer Jackson (Canada) 0:08:05
28Zuzanna Krzystala (Poland) -1 lap
29Barbara Borowiecka (Poland) -1 lap
30Mari-Liis Mõttus (Estonia) -1 lap
31Paula Diaz Lopez (Spain) -1 lap
32Nikola Bajgerová (Czech Republic) -1 lap
33Aya Akamatsu (Japan) -2 laps
DNFClara Honsinger (United States Of America)

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