On a grey and windy Sunday afternoon in Hoogerheide (Netherlands), world champion Sanne Cant (IKO-Beobank) won the final of nine Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup rounds. With her fifth win of the season in the World Cup, the Belgian champion put the icing on the cake of her third overall World Cup victory, despite struggling with illness this week.
Italian champion Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) held off British U23 champion Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) in the battle for second place.
One week ahead of the Valkenburg 2018 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, a hard crash took out two major contenders: French champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and mountain bike world champion Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing Team).
Cant spoke to the press about her victory in a post-race TV interview and said, "Hopefully I'll feel better next week than today. Hopefully I will not have relapse and enjoy a good week of training. The morale is good for Saturday's race."
Lechner managed the hole shot in Hoogerheide with Cant, Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) following shortly. Behind the top-five there was chaos at the fly-over shortly after the start line when Ellen Noble had to hop off her bike; the rest of the pack was forced off the bike too.
Ferrand-Prévot, US champion Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek) and Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) had a troubled start. At the back-end of the opening lap, Van Loy crashed on a slippery off-camber descent and that left Lechner and Cant alone in front. After the opening lap Cant and Lechner were eight seconds ahead of Neff, Kaptheijns and Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita).
During the second of sixth laps, Richards and Ferrand-Prévot blasted through the pack. Richards and Neff were the sole chasers left at short distance of the two leaders. Ferrand-Prévot rode with Brammeier at fifteen seconds.
"I went quite deep quite early to catch up with them. I didn't realize I had four laps left. I had to try and keep control," Richards said.
Early on in the fourth lap, Ferrand-Prévot joined Neff and Richards who were trailing the two leaders by only ten seconds. It was the sign for Cant to make her move. "During the first half of the race I didn’t take the initiative. Then I felt that they were coming back behind us so I figured it was the moment to open up the gas. Suddenly I had a gap and from there it was a matter of keeping it up until the finish," Cant said.
A few moments later, the chasing trio Richards, Ferrand-Prévot and Neff reached the off-camber descent. Richards took a fast line at the highest side. Ferrand-Prévot started high but halfway she dropped back and touched Neff who was passing her on the lowest side of the descent. The duo crashed and took a hard knock. Both riders were clearly in a lot of pain and reached for their shoulders. Ferrand-Prévot was transferred away on a stretcher, while Neff tried to provide words of consolation.
The crash turned the race situation around. The riders in the top-three were all on their own with Cant having a gap of eight seconds on Lechner and 16 on Richards. Compton rode at the same pace and hit the penultimate lap in fourth place at 45 seconds. A few moments later she had breathing problems, forcing her to hold back and eventually finish in 22nd place.
During the final lap Richards came back to a handful of seconds of Lechner but a late slide on the off-camber descent ended her chase. Cant wasn’t ecstatic when crossing the finish line and taking her eleventh World Cup win. Lechner was content with her second place.
"I'm really happy. I was suffering the whole race. Sanne was really strong. It was a hard course here," Lechner said. She welcomed Richards at the finish line with a hug.
“Towards the end I felt good but I couldn’t quite catch her, she was too quick," Richards said. The woman from Malvern was asked in the post-race flash interview about participating in the elite women's race at the world championships. “U23 is enough for me this year. It should be a good race. It looks really good. A lot of mud and hilly,” Richards said.
Nearly one minute behind Cant, seven-time cyclo-cross world champion Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team) won the sprint for fourth place from Kaitlin Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Alice Maria Arzuffi (Steylaerts-Betfirst), Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans) and Brammeier.
In the final World Cup standings, Cant totals 608 points. Keough did enough in Hoogerheide to secure her second place with 501 points, holding off Lechner who scored 476 points.
The more experienced riders didn’t have a great day in Hoogerheide and it cost them fourth place in the final classification, Brammeier moved from seven to four, overtaking Compton, Nash and Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) by the smallest of margins. That switch from seventh to fourth overall boosts her prize money from €6,500 to €13,000.
Next Saturday, the cyclo-cross season reaches its climax with the Worlds race at the Cauberg in Valkenburg (Netherlands).
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|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel)||0:47:31|
|2||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:00:10|
|3||Evie Richards (GBr)||0:00:19|
|4||Marianne Vos (Ned)||0:00:51|
|5||Kaitlin Keough (USA)|
|6||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)||0:00:52|
|7||Christine Majerus (Lux)||0:00:54|
|8||Nikki Brammeier (GBr)||0:00:57|
|9||Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Ned)||0:01:08|
|10||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned)||0:01:22|
|11||Loes Sels (Bel)||0:01:25|
|12||Inge Van Der Heijden (Ned)||0:01:28|
|13||Maghalie Rochette (Can)||0:01:31|
|14||Annemarie Worst (Ned)||0:01:45|
|15||Ellen Van Loy (Bel)||0:01:47|
|16||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa)||0:01:51|
|17||Kim Van De Steene (Bel)||0:01:52|
|18||Christel Ferrier Bruneau (Can)||0:02:05|
|19||Elisabeth Brandau (Ger)|
|20||Katerina Nash (Cze)||0:02:15|
|21||Elle Anderson (USA)||0:02:18|
|22||Katherine Compton (USA)||0:02:28|
|23||Pavla Havlíková (Cze)||0:02:57|
|24||Bethany Crumpton (GBr)||0:02:58|
|25||Courtenay Mcfadden (USA)||0:03:00|
|26||Sara Casasola (Ita)||0:03:01|
|27||Helen Wyman (GBr)||0:03:07|
|28||Fleur Nagengast (Ned)||0:03:09|
|29||Manon Bakker (Ned)||0:03:12|
|30||Aida Nuño Palacio (Spa)||0:03:14|
|31||Emma White (USA)||0:03:33|
|32||Adéla Šafárová (Cze)||0:03:42|
|33||Rebecca Fahringer (USA)||0:03:56|
|34||Jolien Verschueren (Bel)||0:04:04|
|35||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)||0:04:18|
|36||Chiara Teocchi (Ita)||0:04:26|
|37||Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Can)||0:04:38|
|38||Pauline Delhaye (Fra)||0:05:01|
|39||Anna Kay (GBr)||0:05:06|
|40||Nadja Heigl (Aut)||0:05:22|
|41||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)||0:05:28|
|42||Mical Dyck (Can)||0:05:41|
|43||Clara Honsinger (USA)||0:05:49|
|44||Olatz Odriozola Mugica (Spa)||0:05:54|
|45||Irene Trabazo Bragado (Spa)||0:06:11|
|46||Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra)||0:06:42|
|47||Ruby West (Can)||0:06:54|
|48||Elizabeth Ungermanová (Cze)||0:06:59|
|49||Stefanie Paul (Ger)||-1 Lap|
|50||Luisa Ibarrola Albizua (Spa)|
|51||Magdalena Mišonová (Cze)|
|52||Miho Imai (Jpn)|
|53||Ellen Noble (USA)|
|54||Kristin Endres (Ger)|
|55||Siobhan Kelly (Can)|
|56||Stacey Riedel (Aus)|
|57||Tereza Vanícková (Cze)|
|58||Michelle Geoghegan (Irl)|
|59||Erin Mitchell (Aus)|
|DNF||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra)|
|DNF||Jolanda Neff (Swi)|
|DNF||Lucinda Brand (Ned)|
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