Worst comes off best at European Cyclo-cross Championships

Annemarie Worst led home a dominant Dutch team at the UEC Cyclo-cross Championships on Sunday, winning her first major title at the elite level. The 22-year-old beat her heavily decorated compatriot Marianne Vos, with Denise Betsema making it an all-Dutch podium.

Defending champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) battled hard but could not break the Dutch stronghold and had to settle for fourth place.

"I can’t believe it, it was such a hard race," Worst said afterwards. "In the final three laps I was riding in the first place and every lap I was trying to get away. In one of the last laps, I went and I thought I had to go all the way."

There were some cameo appearances from other nations, but the elite women’s race at the UEC Cyclo-cross Championships would prove to be a competition between the Netherlands and Belgium. The race would be contested over five laps of a challenging circuit that hardly gave the riders a chance to catch their breath.

Ellen Van Loy (Belgium) got off to a strong start and distanced the rest of the pack, with Luxembourg’s Christine Majerus the only rider that could hold onto her early on. Van Loy would continue to drive the pace as a battle raged behind her. Majerus lost ground as the first lap continued and slipped back.

Heading into the second lap, Van Loy was still in the lead but she now had the company of Worst, Cant and Vos. Before long, Loes Sels (Belgium) would make it five at the front of the race with a group of eight chasing behind. Betsema and Laura Verdonschot (Belgium) attacked from the chase group later on lap two but only Betsema had the legs to make contact with the leaders.

The technical part of the course was difficult, even for the most experienced, and mistakes forced several of the riders in the lead group to keep in touch. Worst seemed one of the most comfortable, and she used the technical section to launch her move on the penultimate lap. Helped by her teammate Betsema leaving a small gap, Worst built up what proved to be a crucial advantage.

It was here that the Dutch dominance began to show as they chased down their teammate. After being on the front right from the start, Van Loy lost touch with the chasing group, as did Sels, who was one of those who had yo-yoed off the back earlier in the race.

Cant was the only member of the Belgian team that could stay with the Dutch, but the world champion and last year’s winner also struggled to keep up. Worst’s gap was never big, and she had just nine seconds on those behind as she began the final lap. That would be reduced to just two seconds as two-time European Champion Vos tracked her down.

However, Worst had done enough and she was able to sit up and celebrate as she crossed the line. Betsema gave Vos a run for her money in the sprint but the elder of the two held her own to take the silver. 

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemarie Worst (Netherlands)0:40:24
2Marianne Vos (Netherlands)0:00:02
3Denise Betsema (Netherlands)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Sanne Cant (Belgium)0:00:10
5Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)0:00:31
6Loes Sels (Belgium)0:00:37
7Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)0:01:08
8Nikki Brammeier (Great Britain)0:01:16
9Helen Wyman (Great Britain)0:01:21
10Laura Verdonschot (Belgium)0:01:26
11Kim Van De Steene (Belgium)0:01:28
12Pavla Havlíková (Czech Republic)0:01:36
13Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)0:02:13
14Karla Štěpánová (Czech Republic)0:02:23
15Lizzy Witlox (Netherlands)0:02:37
16Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)0:02:53
17Rebecca Gariboldi (Italy)0:02:58
18Zina Barhoumi (Switzerland)0:02:59
19Geerte Hoeke (Netherlands)0:03:29
20Bethany Crumpton (Great Britain)0:03:52
21Stefanie Paul (Germany)0:03:53
22Nadja Heigl (Austria)0:04:04
23Ida Erngren (Sweden)0:04:05
24Viktoria Smidth Knudsen (Denmark)0:04:55
DNFKristina Thrane (Denmark)Row 24 - Cell 2


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