Cant wins elite women's cyclo-cross world title in Valkenburg

Sanne Cant won her second consecutive world title in the elite women's race at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Valkenburg. It was a battle to the end with American Katie Compton, who led the race into the final lap, but Cant muscled her way to the lead in the closing leg and clinched a solo victory.

Compton was forced to settle for the silver medal, with a look of absolute fatigue after such a massive effort, losing 12 seconds at the finish line.

A fast final lap from Lucinda Brand was not enough to see her catch Compton but brought the Netherlands a bronze medal.

Cant, 27, was delighted with her second world title. "I'm really tired. It's the most difficult race I had in my career," she said in the post-race interview. 

Cant had nothing left in her tank after a nearly 50-minute long race on an extremely demanding course.

"The course is really hard. It's the hardest course I ever did. One little mistake… There was nothing over [sic]. We had to run a lot. My legs really exploded,” she added.

She did feel a little sorry for 39-year-old Katie Compton, a rider she respects because she rides a similar full cyclo-cross season. "I'm happy that Katie is second. She also deserves the jersey. She rides from September until the end of the season. This was also a course that fits her really well. I'm happy I can keep my jersey.”

Both Cant and Compton enjoyed a good start, behind fast starters Eva Lechner (Italy), Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) and Majerus. Lechner quickly slipped away in the mud and also Van Loy struggled on the tough course. Cant charged forward and before the end of the opening lap she passed Van Loy and Majerus to take the lead. Overall World Cup winner Cant started the second lap with a bonus of nine seconds on Majerus and 12 seconds on Compton. The rest of the field, with Van Loy, Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) and Brand were nearly half a minute down on the leader. Pre-race favourites or outsiders like Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France), seven-time world champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and 2016 world champion Thalita de Jong (Netherlands) rode outside the top 10.

Early on in the penultimate lap, Cant dropped Compton on the extremely technical off-camber descent. Compton recovered and then she put the defending champion in trouble. Cant made a couple of mistakes and slowly Compton was riding away from her. When hitting the final lap Compton was alone in front, with a tired Cant at eight seconds. In the fight for third place, Majerus once again put Brand in trouble. 

"When we did the last lap I thought that I would be second. She had a gap of six seconds,” Cant said. Still, she kept fighting and slowly she worked her way back to the American champion.

The decisive moment happened at the pit area just before the technical descent. Cant switched bikes at the start of the pit and managed to find a good line through the rest of the pit area. Meanwhile, Compton was forced to keep running and by the time she reached the end Cant was right on her. The Belgian rider sneaked ahead of the American just before the descent and there she quickly gapped Compton who quickly hopped off the bike but found herself on the wrong side.

"It was really difficult to close the gap. Before the long descent, I went to the front and I had a little gap afterward. It wasn’t more than five, six seconds," Cant said.

In the meadow, at the back-end of the course, Cant extended her lead up to nine seconds. In the remaining part of the course, anything could have happened but Cant kept herself and her bike under control and kept extending her lead up to sixteen seconds.

She was shaking her head in disbelief as she reached the top of the fly-over, just before the finish. Cant shouted and threw her fists in the air, and pounded her chest when crossing the line. A beaten Compton waved to the crowd at the finish line. She has never won the rainbow jersey but adds a fifth podium result at Worlds to her palmares.

Brand improved last year's result by one spot, capturing the final podium spot. A disappointed Majerus was fourth at 55 seconds. Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) was a very surprising fifth. Kaitlin Keough (USA) was sixth ahead of Lechner and Elle Anderson (USA). French women Marlene Petit and Caronline Mani closed out the top-ten.


Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sanne Cant (Belgium)0:49:34
2Katherine Compton (United States Of America)0:00:12
3Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)0:00:26
4Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)0:00:55
5Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)0:01:26
6Kaitlin Keough (United States Of America)0:01:45
7Eva Lechner (Italy)0:01:49
8Elle Anderson (United States Of America)0:01:57
9Marlène Petit (France)0:02:10
10Caroline Mani (France)0:02:38
11Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain)0:02:49
12Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)0:02:55
13Helen Wyman (Great Britain)0:03:04
14Annemarie Worst (Netherlands)0:03:29
15Loes Sels (Belgium)0:03:33
16Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)0:03:36
17Jolien Verschueren (Belgium)0:03:38
18Marianne Vos (Netherlands)0:03:43
19Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)0:03:53
20Kim Van De Steene (Belgium)0:03:54
21Aida Nuño Palacio (Spain)0:04:15
22Maghalie Rochette (Canada)0:04:27
23Bethany Crumpton (Great Britain)0:04:35
24Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)0:04:40
25Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)0:04:59
26Courtenay Mcfadden (United States Of America)0:05:42
27Pavla Havlíková (Czech Republic)0:06:11
28Rebecca Fahringer (United States Of America)0:06:31
29Christel Ferrier Bruneau (Canada)0:06:52
30Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)0:07:23
31Mical Dyck (Canada)0:08:04
32Ellen Noble (United States Of America)0:08:11
33Thalita De Jong (Netherlands)0:08:17
34Eri Yonamine (Japan)0:08:26
35Karen Verhestraeten (Belgium)0:08:44
36Olatz Odriozola Mugica (Spain)0:09:10
37Miho Imai (Japan)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Kristina Thrane (Denmark)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Maria Larkin (Ireland)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Stacey Riedel (Australia)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Marta Turobos (Poland)Row 40 - Cell 2

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