Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) continued her dominance of the cyclo-cross World Cup, riding clear to take victory in Dendermonde.
The 32-year-old world champion fought back from a slower start before riding her away from her rivals for an 11th cyclo-cross win of the season.
In a repeat of last year’s result at Dendermonde it was American champion Clara Honsinger (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) who came through to lead the chase in second and finished strongly, pulling the leader back to four seconds on the final lap.
The battle for third was also a close one with Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) taking the final podium position ahead of a fast-finishing Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo–Visma).
Brand said that she had to be patient to find her rhythm on the course before pulling out her winning margin.
"It’s never easy and it was really hard," said Brand. "There was a lot of running and really finding the place where you could still keep a little bit of speed.
"Especially at the beginning I had to find my way a little bit and got stuck a few times in my lines so I had to keep a little bit of patience to get in my rhythm. I had the trust that in the end this was a course where the strongest are coming in front but it’s never easy."
Honsinger was closing on Brand quickly on the final lap and felt if the race had been five minutes longer then she could have got victory.
"I was just trying to keep as smooth as possible to see where I could make up time on that last lap," said the US champion. "Maybe if it (the race) was five minutes longer then it could have been mine.
"I remembered this race from last year and even though it’s flat it really saps your energy. I was just patient as I know a lot of the women in the top-10 were probably going to start to fade towards the end and that’s when I could really put my power down and make up some time. The way I ride, it’s hard for me when they go really deep for the first half."
Brand leads the World Cup series by 39 points ahead of Betsema with three rounds remaining. The series continues at Hulst in Holland on January 2.
How it unfolded
A subdued atmosphere at Dendermonde greeted riders due to Covid-19 regulations in Belgium preventing spectators from attending the Boxing Day race. Dendermonde held its first cyclo-cross event last season with World champion Brand battling through the mud to take victory.
On Sunday gruelling conditions greeted competitors again with a downhill sand section added to the course which also included steep climbs and several running sections through the deep mud.
After winning in Rucphen last weekend Vos used her speed to lead away on the asphalt start. Challenging for the overall World Cup victory, Betsema also got off to her customary fast start and used her skills through the downhill sand to pull out a gap. Behind Yara Kastelijn (IKO-Crelan) tangled with a competitor in the leading group and was forced further down the field.
Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) has struggled to find consistent form this season after suffering an illness but showed her strength to pull Betsema back early in the race. World champion Brand was being patient on the tough course and found herself 10th and 14 seconds back after the opening lap.
In a bid to distance her rivals for victory, under-23 rider Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) forced the pace but teammate Brand had powered back to the leading group as competitors ran a pump track section.
Manon Bakker (IKO-Crelan) was another under-23 rider thriving in the downhill sand section and led the chase as Betsema again forced a gap on the technical section. By the end of the second lap a group of nine riders remained in the front group including Brand who was riding strongly and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (IKO-Crelan) on the back.
World and European champion Brand then forced the pace, powering through the mud by the midway section of the race quickly pulling out a gap. Betsema is the only rider competing with Brand for the World Cup title and led the challenge behind but was closely monitored by the large chasing pack. Under-23 series leader Pieterse joined Betsema in the chase but lost some momentum after suffering a slip while climbing up a staircase section.
Starting the penultimate lap, Brand led by nine seconds from Betsema with the chasers a handful of seconds further back.
After also having a slower start, Honsinger joined the podium battle, passing Pieterse and then Betsema on the penultimate lap. Betsema crashed on a slippery descent and was caught by Pieterse in the battle for third with just over a lap remaining.
Honsinger finished second to Brand at Dendermonde last season and, taking the bell, the American sat 17 seconds behind with Pieterse and Betsema a further 17 seconds back.
Van Anrooij was also finishing strongly, passing fellow under-23 rider Pieterse and chasing Betsema in a bid for the final podium position.
A change of bikes for Brand on the last lap while Honsinger powered through the adjacent mud section allowed the American to pull the margin back to four seconds at the finish.
Betsema held on for third while a late charge by Vos saw her sprint past Van Anrooij a few seconds further back.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:47:38|
|2||Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld||0:00:04|
|3||Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:36|
|4||Marianne Vos (Ned)||0:00:41|
|5||Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions|
|6||Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:00:46|
|7||Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:00:52|
|8||Kata Blanka Vas (Hun)||0:01:10|
|9||Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:01:15|
|10||Manon Bakker (Ned) Iko - Crelan||0:01:18|
|11||Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:01:48|
|12||Hélène Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:02:21|
|13||Aniek van Alphen (Ned) 777||0:02:28|
|14||Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777||0:02:31|
|15||Marion Norbert Riberolle (Bel) Starcasino cx Team||0:02:32|
|16||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:02:35|
|17||Silvia Persico (Ita)||0:02:38|
|18||Christine Majerus (Lux)||0:03:02|
|19||Katie Clouse (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld||0:03:06|
|20||Madigan Munro (USA) Trek Factory Racing CX||0:03:52|
|21||Perrine Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:04:12|
|22||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)||0:04:21|
|23||Solenne Billouin (Fra) Team Guevel Immobilier Laval Cyclisme 53||0:04:40|
|24||Gaia Realini (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite||0:04:54|
|25||Lotte Kopecky (Bel)||0:05:09|
|26||Kristýna Zemanová (Cze)||0:05:11|
|27||Olivia Onesti (Fra) Starcasino CX Team||0:05:12|
|28||Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:05:19|
|29||Kiona Crabbé (Bel)||0:05:29|
|30||Marthe Truyen (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:05:41|
|31||Julie De Wilde (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:06:06|
|32||Raylyn Nuss (USA)||0:06:11|
|33||Ellen Van Loy (Bel)||0:06:14|
|34||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team||0:06:15|
|35||Tereza Kurnická (Svk)||0:06:17|
|36||Lise-Marie Henzelin (Swi)||0:06:18|
|37||Amira Mellor (GBr) Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus||0:06:39|
|38||Suzanne Verhoeven (Bel)||0:06:55|
|39||Marie Schreiber (Lux) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:06:58|
|40||Judith Krahl (Ger) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen||0:06:59|
|41||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:07:21|
|42||Viviane Rognant (Fra) OCF Team Cross||0:07:48|
|43||Chiara Teocchi (Ita) Trinity Racing||0:07:56|
|44||Caitlin Bernstein (USA)||0:08:08|
|45||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)||0:08:13|
|46||Anna Megale (USA)||0:08:28|
|47||Clea Seidel (Ger)||0:08:31|
|48||Sidney McGill (Can)||0:08:45|
|49||Erica Zaveta (USA)||0:08:46|
|50||Emily Werner (USA)||0:09:08|
|51||Tereza Vaníčková (Cze)||0:09:16|
|52||Xan Crees (GBr) Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus||0:09:25|
|53||Lucia Bramati (Ita)||0:09:34|
|54||Isa Nomden (Ned)||0:09:46|
|55||Stefanie Paul (Ger)|
|56||Meg De Bruyne (Bel)|
|57||Camille Devigne (Fra)|
|58||Sofia Rodriguez Revert (Spa) Teika-GSport|
|59||Nina Berton (Lux)|
|60||Sara Cueto Vega (Spa) Unicaja Banco-Gijon|
|61||Nadja Heigl (Aut) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes|
|62||Sara Bonillo Talens (Spa) Teika-GSport|
|63||Maïté Barthels (Lux)|
|64||Siobhan Kelly (Can)|
|65||Lydia Pinto Larenjo (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team|
|66||Christiane Bilodeau (Can)|
|67||Prisca Jaquet (Swi)|
|68||Bridget Tooley (USA)|
|DNF||Yara Kastelijn (Ned)|
|DNF||Katelyn Walcroft (Can) Iko - Crelan|
|DNF||Maghalie Rochette (Can)|
|DNS||Lizzy Gunsalus (USA)|
|DNS||Paula Diaz Lopez (Spa)|
|DNS||Alicia Franck (Bel)|
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