World Champion Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions) led from the opening lap and put in a dominant display to win the eighth round of the cyclo-cross World Cup at Besançon.
The 32-year-old World Cup leader clinched her eighth cyclo-cross victory of the season and second of the weekend, after also winning the Urban Cross in Kortrijk the previous day, in style mastering the muddy conditions.
Pan American Champion Maghalie Rochette (Specialized-Feedback Sports) had a race to remember powering past chaser Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and then establishing a clear gap in second.
On the last lap Betsema was challenged by Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Fenix) but a slip on a wet staircase for under-23 rider was enough for her Dutch rival Betsema to take third.
"It was not easy, absolutely not," said Brand. "It was a very tough course and I could make sure that I was leading in the first part of the race so I could choose my own lines and I think that was a big benefit.
"I had the gap already so I could constantly take time to get the right lines and to just push the power where I needed, it was really hard here."
Brand now leads the World Cup standings by 29 points with eight of the 16 rounds completed. However, she plans to miss round 10 at Val di Sole in Italy to train ahead of the Christmas block of races.
"It's really nice to have a bit of an advantage and I will not be there in Val di Sole so it's nice to have a bit of a bigger lead and so it is not a bigger deal to skip that round," added Brand.
Rochette had won a World Cup round in Iowa City in 2019 but said it was a dream to take a podium position at a European round.
"For me it has always been a dream to win or be on a podium of a World Cup in Europe," Rochette said.
"There is a big difference for me. The field is as strong sometimes in America but I've always had trouble doing really well in Europe but today I finally proved myself that I could do it.
"I'm very happy. I was just trying to stay calm, sometimes I get too excited and think about where I am and then you get nervous. You are so excited to be in contention for the podium that you start making mistakes."
How in unfolded
Wet and cold conditions greeted riders for the eighth round of the World Cup with riders making the trip down to Besançon in France.
Besançon was being used for in the cyclo-cross World Cup for the first time after last being tested in 2019 for the French national championships, also held in wet and muddy conditions.
On the wet paved start the French Clauzel sisters Helene and Perrine sent the home fans wild leading away from the start while a crash further back saw Anna Kay (Starcasino CX Team) hit the paving.
Coming into the first treacherous off-camber descent last weekend's World Cup winner at Koksijde Annemarie Worst (777) took the lower line and slid out along with Shirin Van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions) losing valuable time and positions.
American Clara Honsinger (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) also had a tough opening lap and found herself well back in the field after a frantic opening but recovered through the race to eventually finish seventh.
Brand took the lead after the opening stages and started to stretch the field on the muddy course. Betsema was faced with the task of leading the chasers after her World Cup overall rival and sat nine seconds back after the opening lap.
Brand was pushing her limits and tripped while running up the steps but stayed upright as she continued to slowly build a lead on the second lap.
The muddy and slippery descents of Besançon were causing a host of problems and Betsema was joined in the chase behind by under-23 rider Fem Van Empel while Pieterse, Rochette and Inge Van der Heijden (777) were also amongst the chasers.
It was not only the French descents which were causing problems but also the steep and slippery ascents as Brand selected which she could ride and other which competitors were forced to run.
Pan American champion Rochette was on a charge in the muddy conditions and powered her way up to Betsema 27 seconds behind Brand by the midway point.
However, Van Empel and Pieterse were also within striking distance of the podium places.
Rochette, who had previously won a World Cup round at Iowa City in 2019, was thriving in the French mud and went straight past her Dutch riders putting pressure on Betsema in the battle for second.
Taking the last lap bell Brand led by 21 seconds ahead of Rochette who had a gap of nine seconds on Bestsema and the chasers five seconds further back.
Betsema was fading as the race wore on with Pieterse and Van Empel pulling back to their follow Dutch woman in the battle for third. Pieterse had pulled back Betsema before slipping on the wet stairs while carrying her bike and allowing her rival an advantage again.
Brand showed her commanding form until the end finishing 26 seconds ahead of a delighted Rochette while Betsema hung on for third. The last lap slip for Pieterse took its toll and she was passed by Van Empel for fourth.
The World Cup continues with round nine at Antwerpen next Sunday.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:51:09|
|2||Maghalie Rochette (Can)||0:00:26|
|3||Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:34|
|4||Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:00:37|
|5||Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix||0:00:44|
|6||Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777||0:01:21|
|7||Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld||0:01:31|
|8||Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions||0:01:40|
|9||Katie Clouse (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld||0:02:10|
|10||Line Burquier (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:02:31|
|11||Hélène Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:02:39|
|12||Alicia Franck (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:02:54|
|13||Manon Bakker (Ned) Iko - Crelan|
|14||Marion Norbert Riberolle (Bel) Starcasino CX Team||0:02:58|
|15||Amandine Fouquenet (Fra)||0:03:08|
|16||Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777||0:03:15|
|17||Perrine Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:03:34|
|18||Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:03:53|
|19||Caroline Mani (Fra)||0:04:08|
|20||Marie Schreiber (Lux) Tormans - Circus Cyclo Cross Team||0:04:21|
|21||Lauriane Duraffourg (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam||0:04:53|
|22||Anna Kay (GBr) Starcasino CX Team||0:05:01|
|23||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:05:04|
|24||Olivia Onesti (Fra) Starcasino CX Team||0:05:20|
|25||Anaïs Morichon (Fra) Team RoyalBikeshop.com||0:05:32|
|26||Rebecca Gariboldi (Ita)||0:05:35|
|27||Silvia Persico (Ita)||0:05:59|
|28||Marthe Truyen (Bel) Iko - Crelan||0:06:01|
|29||Léa Curinier (Fra)||0:06:02|
|30||Ellen van Loy (Bel)||0:06:19|
|31||Francesca Baroni (Ita) KTM Alchemist Powered by Brenta Brakes||0:06:33|
|32||Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal||0:06:40|
|33||Sidney Mcgill (Can)||0:06:55|
|34||Jinse Peeters (Bel) Proximus - Alphamotorhomes - Doltcini CT||0:07:00|
|35||Kiona Crabbé (Bel)||0:07:41|
|36||Zina Barhoumi (Swi)||0:08:26|
|37||Marine Strappazzon (Fra) Team RoyalBikeshop.com||0:08:43|
|38||Lucia Bramati (Ita)||0:08:48|
|39||Anais Grimault (Fra) Team S1neo Loudeac||0:09:03|
|40||Lise-Marie Henzelin (Swi)||0:09:23|
|41||Marlène Morel Petitgirard (Fra) Team Fima - Cyrpeo Alian||0:09:55|
|42||Amelie Laquebe (Fra)|
|43||Letizia Brufani (Ita) Cycling Cafe Racing Team|
|44||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Maes Containers|
|45||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)|
|46||Prisca Jaquet (Swi)|
|DNF||Lara Krähemann (Swi)|
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