Brand holds off Honsinger to win Dendermonde World Cup

Lucinda Brand of Team Baloise Trek Lions celebrates at finish line as race winner of Dendermonde World Cup 2021
Lucinda Brand of Team Baloise Trek Lions celebrates at finish line as race winner of Dendermonde World Cup 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images)

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. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions 0:47:38
2Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld 0:00:04
3Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:00:36
4Marianne Vos (Ned) 0:00:41
5Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions
6Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix 0:00:46
7Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko - Crelan 0:00:52
8Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) 0:01:10
9Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix 0:01:15
10Manon Bakker (Ned) Iko - Crelan 0:01:18
11Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:01:48
12Hélène Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam 0:02:21
13Aniek van Alphen (Ned) 777 0:02:28
14Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777 0:02:31
15Marion Norbert Riberolle (Bel) Starcasino cx Team 0:02:32
16Eva Lechner (Ita) 0:02:35
17Silvia Persico (Ita) 0:02:38
18Christine Majerus (Lux) 0:03:02
19Katie Clouse (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld 0:03:06
20Madigan Munro (USA) Trek Factory Racing CX 0:03:52
21Perrine Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam 0:04:12
22Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) 0:04:21
23Solenne Billouin (Fra) Team Guevel Immobilier Laval Cyclisme 53 0:04:40
24Gaia Realini (Ita) Selle Italia - Guerciotti - Elite 0:04:54
25Lotte Kopecky (Bel) 0:05:09
26Kristýna Zemanová (Cze) 0:05:11
27Olivia Onesti (Fra) Starcasino CX Team 0:05:12
28Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:05:19
29Kiona Crabbé (Bel) 0:05:29
30Marthe Truyen (Bel) Iko - Crelan 0:05:41
31Julie De Wilde (Bel) Iko - Crelan 0:06:06
32Raylyn Nuss (USA) 0:06:11
33Ellen Van Loy (Bel) 0:06:14
34Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team 0:06:15
35Tereza Kurnická (Svk) 0:06:17
36Lise-Marie Henzelin (Swi) 0:06:18
37Amira Mellor (GBr) Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus 0:06:39
38Suzanne Verhoeven (Bel) 0:06:55
39Marie Schreiber (Lux) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team 0:06:58
40Judith Krahl (Ger) Team Schamel p/b Kloster Kitchen 0:06:59
41Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Iko - Crelan 0:07:21
42Viviane Rognant (Fra) OCF Team Cross 0:07:48
43Chiara Teocchi (Ita) Trinity Racing 0:07:56
44Caitlin Bernstein (USA) 0:08:08
45Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) 0:08:13
46Anna Megale (USA) 0:08:28
47Clea Seidel (Ger) 0:08:31
48Sidney McGill (Can) 0:08:45
49Erica Zaveta (USA) 0:08:46
50Emily Werner (USA) 0:09:08
51Tereza Vaníčková (Cze) 0:09:16
52Xan Crees (GBr) Team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus 0:09:25
53Lucia Bramati (Ita) 0:09:34
54Isa Nomden (Ned) 0:09:46
55Stefanie Paul (Ger)
56Meg De Bruyne (Bel)
57Camille Devigne (Fra)
58Sofia Rodriguez Revert (Spa) Teika-GSport
59Nina Berton (Lux)
60Sara Cueto Vega (Spa) Unicaja Banco-Gijon
61Nadja Heigl (Aut) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes
62Sara Bonillo Talens (Spa) Teika-GSport
63Maïté Barthels (Lux)
64Siobhan Kelly (Can)
65Lydia Pinto Larenjo (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team
66Christiane Bilodeau (Can)
67Prisca Jaquet (Swi)
68Bridget Tooley (USA)
DNFYara Kastelijn (Ned)
DNFKatelyn Walcroft (Can) Iko - Crelan
DNFMaghalie Rochette (Can)
DNSLizzy Gunsalus (USA)
DNSPaula Diaz Lopez (Spa)
DNSAlicia Franck (Bel)

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