Brand wins again at the Hulst World Cup

Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) powered clear of her rivals on the last two laps to take victory in the World Cup at Hulst.

The world champion made it six wins in a row and increased her lead in the World Cup overall standings by taking the victory on her home turf. 

Brand had an uncharacteristically slow start but made her way mid-race into a chasing group behind lone leader Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix), sitting around 15 seconds behind on the fast course.

After mastering the technical course with its steep banks, Brand made her move with two laps remaining to catch teenager Pieterse and rode clear on the final lap.

It was Brand's 15th win of the season including six World Cup rounds as she continued to show her cyclo-cross form.

Annemarie Worst (777) finished quickly and pulled back to a battling Pieterse on the last lap before making a small mistake and settling for third.

Brand was full of praise for 19-year-old Pieterse who was searching for a first elite World Cup win but had to settle for second five seconds behind.

"She was riding amazing," said Brand about Pieterse.

"She is technically so good and had a great start so she could do what she wanted. Maybe I had a little bit of luck that I couldn't be there (at the front) straight away so I had a little bit left for the end. "She made it really hard for me."

Brand now leads the World Cup overall by 59 points with two rounds remaining after series rival Betsema finished seventh in Hulst.

The World Cup series continues with the penultimate round Flamanville in France on January 16.

How it unfolded

Competitors returned to the Vestingcross course in Hulst for the 13th round of the cyclo-cross World Cup.

The fast course favoured the explosive riders with its steep and technical banks and sweeping corners.

Taking place around the city walls the unique course also passed through a windmill.

Last season due to Covid-19 restriction organisers used a different Hulst course with grassy climbs and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) took the victory.

Suited to the fast conditions Marianne Vos (Jumbo–Visma) got off to the quickest start on the tarmac start.

World champion Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) started slower and was held up by other competitors and had to battle for a top-10 position.

Despite being fast in nature, the ground was also slippery with Vos sliding down on an off-camber descent allowing under-23 World Cup leader Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) into the lead on the opening lap.

Small mistakes were costing Vos as Pieterse pushed the pace finishing the opening lap six seconds clear of fellow youngster Kata Blanka Vas (Team SD Worx).

A fast and chaotic opening two laps saw Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise-Trek) leading the chase behind Pieterse before also making a mistake on an off-camber section.

Small mistakes for her competitors allowed Pieterse to edge her lead out to 14 seconds after the second lap over Vas and then four chasing including Brand, Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), Van Anrooij and Annemarie Worst (777).

At the midway point, Pieterse led by 13 seconds ahead of Vas, who led the chasing group which Betsema and Vos were also trying to pull back across to after earlier mistakes.

With 30 minutes of racing gone Brand showed her power in the chase behind but was struggling each lap on a steep uphill section, having to dismount as others rode to the top.

Brand recovered from her small error and on the penultimate lap went in pursuit of lone leader Pieterse before tangling with an advertising board dismounting for a running section.

Once again, the world champion recovered from the mishap and midway through the penultimate lap reached Pieterse with a small gap on Vas, Worst and Van Empel.

Brand then used her power to put pressure on a fading Pieterse taking the last lap bell five seconds clear of Pieterse with Van Empel chasing hard a further five seconds back.

In the battle for the podium positions, Worst passed Van Empel and then went in pursuit of Pieterse 13 seconds behind Brand.

The pressure behind saw Brand's gap tumble but she had time to celebrate five seconds ahead of Pieterse with Worst in third six seconds further back.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions 0:49:14
2Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix 0:00:05
3Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 0:00:11
4Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus Continental Team 0:00:14
5Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:00:26
6Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team 0:00:37
7Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:00:43
8Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions 0:01:08
9Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777 0:01:46
10Alicia Franck (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT 0:01:52
11Hélène Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam 0:02:02
12Manon Bakker (Ned) IKO - Crelan 0:02:06
13Anna Kay (GBr) Starcasino CX Team 0:02:10
14Marion Norbert Riberolle (Bel) Starcasino CX Team 0:02:14
15Line Burquier (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam 0:02:21
16Maghalie Rochette (Can) 0:03:03
17Yara Kastelijn (Ned) IKO - Crelan 0:03:17
18Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:03:31
19Katie Clouse (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld 0:03:35
20Sanne Cant (Bel) IKO - Crelan 0:03:38
21Aniek van Alphen (Ned) 777
22Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal 0:03:53
23Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team 0:04:00
24Christine Majerus (Lux) Team SD Worx 0:04:14
25Marie Schreiber (Lux) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team 0:04:30
26Ellen Van Loy (Bel) 0:04:41
27Zoe Backstedt (GBr) 0:05:08
28Harriet Harnden (GBr) Trek Factory Racing CX 0:05:45
29Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing 0:06:04
30Caitlin Bernstein (USA) 0:06:29
31Tereza Kurnická (Svk) 0:06:50
32Olivia Onesti (Fra) Starcasino CX Team 0:06:54
33Solenne Billouin (Fra) Team Guevel Immobilier Laval Cyclisme 53 0:06:56
34Madigan Munro (USA) Trek Factory Racing CX
35Karla Štěpánová (Cze) 0:07:09
36Femke Gort (Ned) BNS Technics - Groep T.O.M 0:07:16
37Isa Nomden (Ned) 0:07:21
38Erica Zaveta (USA) 0:07:24
39Ava Holmgren (Can) 0:07:26
40Sidney Mcgill (Can) 0:07:54
41Ella Maclean-Howell (GBr) 0:08:29
42Raylyn Nuss (USA)
43Camille Devigne (Fra)
44Sofia Rodriguez Revert (Spa) Teika - GSport
45Lizzy Gunsalus (USA)
46Isabella Holmgren (Can)
47Lauren Zoerner (USA)
48Emily Werner (USA)
49Nadja Heigl (Aut) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes
50Lydia Pinto Larenjo (Spa) Nesta - MMR CX Team
51Jinse Peeters (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT
52Anna Megale (USA)
53Sara Bonillo Talens (Spa) Teika - GSport
54Malgorzata Mazurek (Pol)
55Siobhan Kelly (Can)
56Sara Cueto Vega (Spa) Unicaja Banco - Gijon
DNSEmily Carrick-Anderson (GBr)
DNSMarta Sanchez Hernandez (Spa) Massi Tactic Women Team
DNSPerrine Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam

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