Blanka Kata Vas mastered the slippery conditions at Overijse in Belgium to take her first elite Cyclo-cross World Cup victory. The Team SD Worx rider showed her strength on the steep climbs and technical ability on the descents to ride clear of Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) with two laps remaining.
Vas, aged 20, and 19-year-old Pieterse, had bridged over to early leader Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) before showing their technical ability as Betsema crashed.
Hungarian Vas had time to celebrate her first World Cup win 15 seconds ahead of Pieterse while world champion Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) recovered from a first-lap tangle of bikes to beat Betsema in a sprint finish for third.
“I didn’t expect to win the race,” said Vas.
“I felt so good and I just tried to be on the front. My legs were very good on the first lap. I could concentrate for the whole race and everything went well. I’m so happy for my first (World Cup) win, it means a lot.”
American Clara Honsinger (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) finished just 11 seconds off the podium places in fifth.
World champion Brand reflected on a mishap in the first pit section which saw her tangle with Fem Van Emple (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) at the top of the opening asphalt start.
However, beating Betsema for third gave Brand the World Cup series lead with both riders on 147 points going into round six at Tabor in the Czech Republic on November 14.
“I wasn’t the only one who made that tactical choice to change their bike,” said Brand.
“I lost a lot of places which is not ideal here. It was good for me that the three came together in front but then I made a tactical mistake by taking over (the pace) from Yara (Kastelijn) which was my own mistake.
“I’m still happy that I came third.”
How it unfolded
The tough asphalt uphill start including a cobbled section gave riders a dilemma over which tyre pressure to choose with a first pit section at the top.
Spread across the asphalt a ferocious charge up the opening climb was led by World Cup leader Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal)
In the congested opening pit section, a tangle of bikes between under-23 world champion Fem Van Emple (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) and Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) led to the pair losing their positions and slipping down the field.
After missing last week’s round in Zonhoven, Hungarian rider Blanka Kata Vas (Team SD Worx) led the charge on the opening lap along with Betsema while Brand sat 22 seconds having to battle back through the field.
An opening lap bike change for Vas gave Betsema a gap of five-second gap at the head of proceedings with under-23 series leader Puck Pieterse (Alpecin - Fenix) joining Vas in the chase behind.
The slippery, muddy descents of Overijse was holding up a large chasing group with American Clara Honsinger (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) one of those to crash.
Vas used her strength to charge up the steep climbs in an attempt to stop Betsema repeating her solo victory at Zonhoven the previous week.
However, her gap evaporated in a split second crashing out on a slippery descent allowing the chasers back to her wheel to leave a group of three after the second lap.
Some 17 seconds behind Yara Kastelijn (IKO - Crelan) and Brand had forged ahead of the large chasing group in pursuit of the leading trio.
Pieterse, who had shown her form with a fourth place at Zonhoven, last weekend was next to put her rivals under pressure as they reached the halfway point
Betsema was struggling with the slippery descents in Overijse and again crashed losing a nine-second gap to the young leading duo with two laps to go.
Behind Honsinger and 18-year-old Line Burquier (A.S. Bike Crossteam) had bridged the gap to Brand and Kastelijn in the chase behind.
Vas was trying to force under-23 rival Pieterse into a mistake and then used her strength on a tough grass climb to form a slender advantage of four seconds at the bell as they continued to trade blows.
Betsema had fallen to 23 seconds back at the bell ahead of Brand while Burquier and Honsinger were also in close attendance. Vas was the strongest on the course and stretched her advantage out on the asphalt climb after the finish to 11 seconds by the grassy decent.
Brand was using her strength on the final lap and bridged back to Betsema in the battle for third before going straight past her rival.
With just three points separating the Dutch riders at the head of the overall standings series going into the event Betsema responded but lost out in a sprint finish to her rival with Brand taking the overall series lead despite both riders being level on 147 points.
Honsinger was also in the last lap battle for the remaining podium place finishing just 11 seconds further back in fifth.
World Cup action continues with round six in Tabor, Czech Republic, on November 14.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Blanka Kata Vas (Hun) SD Worx||0:48:07|
|2||Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:00:15|
|3||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:00:33|
|4||Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal|
|5||Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld||0:00:44|
|6||Line Burquier (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:00:53|
|7||Yara Kastelijn (Ned) IKO - Crelan||0:01:24|
|8||Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:36|
|9||Silvia Persico (Ita)||0:01:52|
|10||Amandine Foiquenet (Fra)|
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