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Lechner triumphs at Valkenburg and takes World Cup lead

Eva Lechner (Team Colnago-SudTirol) took command of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings on Sunday afternoon, emerging victorious at Valkenburg In absence of former leader Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team).

Lechner rode away from her last rival Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) on the penultimate lap and completed a two-lap long solo ride on the famous Cauberg, clinching a fist as she crossed the line. Harris crashed hard on the final lap and the British rider missed out on a World Cup podium finish. Instead it was a delighted 23-year-old Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale p/b who worked her way to second place ahead of in-form Pavla Havlikova (MRM-Avalon Pro Cycling).

"It was really hard for me, I was suffering a lot with the jetlag after coming from the Olympic test event in Rio," Lechner said after her win – her second World Cup victory after last season's success in Hoogerheide. 

"I’m so happy that I still managed to win. I was fighting a lot. It was a bonus to have MTB experience as it was technical. There was a lot of mud."

Lechner now leads the World Cup after two rounds on 110 points, with Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) second on 85 and Antonneau third on 65. 

A disappointed Harris eventually crossed the finish line in Valkenburg in sixth place. For three out of five laps she had been able to fight up against Lechner but an off-camber descent put her in trouble twice in the final two laps.

"I felt really strong. She’s really strong on climbs [Lechner]. I made two mistakes in the race, the first one was where Eva went away from me. From there I said ok, try to get second. I crashed again but really bad. My ‘bars were bended the other way. I lost a few places. I’ll keep chasing the podium and a World Cup win," Harris told Sporza.

European and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) struggled to find her rhythm on the technical course. She briefly tried to bridge up to the three leaders in the second lap: Lechner, Harris and Havlikova. It didn’t work out.

When Havlikova dropped back the podium was back in sight for chasers Cant, Antonneau and Amanda Miller. When hitting the final lap Antonneau rode away from Havlikova, Cant and Miller in search of third place. Suddenly Harris was spotted fixing her bike and second place was for Antonneau. Havlikova won the battle for third place from Cant, while Miller – tenth in CrossVegas – finished fifth. 

In the World Cup standings Lechner moves into first place with 110 points after two rounds. The Italian didn’t know whether she would ride the full cyclo-cross World Cup this season. "I’m tired after doing the MTB season," she said. "Now I take a small break. I don’t know which World Cup I will do. I do as much as possible. In December I’m back but now maybe I’ll do Koksijde now that I have the leader’s jersey."

Cant is now second overall with 85 points. Antonneau moves up to third place with 65 points ahead of Nash who kept her 60 points. Miller is fifth with 57 points. Dutch ace Sanne van Paassen (Boels-Dolmans) struggled on the Cauberg and drops to sixth with 52 points. Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) is level with Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) with 47 points. Anthony was twelfth in Valkenburg, just ahead of US-champion Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing). Havlikova and British champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) round out the World Cup top-10.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eva Lechner (Ita)0:44:41
2Kaitlin Antonneau (USA)0:00:10
3Pavla Havlikova (Cze)0:00:21
4Sanne Cant (Bel)0:00:40
5Amanda Miller (USA)0:00:48
6Nikki Harris (GBr)0:01:10
7Ellen Van Loy (Bel)0:01:23
8Helen Wyman (GBr)0:01:29
9Jolien Verschueren (Bel)0:01:35
10Sanne Van Paassen (Ned)0:02:02
11Femke Van Den Driessche (Bel)0:02:14
12Crystal Anthony (USA)0:02:30
13Katherine Compton (USA)0:03:22
14Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)0:03:35
15Maud Kaptheijns (Ned)0:04:12
16Loes Sels (Bel)0:04:24
17Bethany Crumpton (GBr)0:04:35
18Jana Czeczinkarova (Cze)0:04:38
19Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa)0:04:44
20Maëlle Grossetête (Fra)0:04:47
21Nikola Noskova (Cze)0:04:51
22Karen Verhestraeten (Bel)0:04:57
23Lizzy Witlox (Ned)0:05:01
24Janka Keseg Stevkova (Svk)0:05:08
25Marlene Petit (Fra)0:05:14
26Yara Kastelijn (Ned)0:05:27
27Hannah Payton (GBr)0:05:32
28Aida Nuno Palacio (Spa)0:05:39
29Marlène Morel Petitgirard (Fra)0:05:44
30Inge Van Der Heijden (Ned)0:05:49
31Arley Kemmerer (USA)0:05:56
32Martina Mikulaskova (Cze)0:06:13
33Laura Perry (Fra)0:06:35
34Margriet Helena Kloppenburg (Den)0:06:43
35Amira Mellor (GBr)
36Adela Safarova (Cze)0:07:07
37Esmee Oosterman (Ned)0:07:25
38Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe)0:07:42
39Manon Bakker (Ned)0:08:27
40Courtenay Mcfadden (USA)
41Stefanie Paul (Ger)
42Katrien Thijs (Bel)
43Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa)
44Suzie Godart (Lux)
45Christine Vardaros (USA)
46Patrycja Lorkowska (Pol)
47Elizabeth Ungermanova (Cze)
48Denisa Lukesova (Cze)
49Karolina Perekitko (Pol)
50Lina Rausch (Ger)
51Zofia Rzeszutek (Pol)
DNFLise-Marie Henzelin (Swi)
DNFLaura Verdonschot (Bel)
DNFJuliette Labous (Fra)
DNSThalita De Jong (Ned)
DNSHanka Kupfernagel (Ger)

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