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