Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands) became the new European cyclo-cross champion with a dominant victory in Silvelle, Italy. The 22-year-old led from the opening lap in tough conditions, and never gave up her advantage, soloing to the win after four laps of a muddy course.
Eva Lechner (Italy) scored a medal for the home nation, taking silver 12 seconds down on Kastelijn after a late challenge to the Dutchwoman. 2018 champion Annemarie Worst (Netherlands) took third, 26 seconds back, after a battle with Lechner that lasted much of the race.
"I felt really strong the last weeks, and this morning I felt really good," said Kastelijn after the race. "I didn't like the course because it was really muddy yesterday and also this morning. I was so happy that it was dry in the afternoon.
"After the start I was sixth or something, and I felt really good. I felt like I was stronger than the other girls, and then when I had the lead it was full gas. It's cool to be in the front because you can ride your own lines. My coach said to do that, I did, and now I'm here.
"[I've completed] all my goals already from this season. It's incredible. Now I will focus on the Worlds, I think.
"It's really nice that I can race the whole year in this jersey. It's a dream – I'm really young and now my dream has come true."
Kastelijn led the way early on, after being caught up in an early crash. Among the big favourites for the race after taking victories at Koppenbergcross and Superprestige Gavere, she pushed ahead through the thick, lumpy mud that defined the course.
A crash early on from 2018 champion Worst saw the field behind the Dutchwoman held up, exacerbating a tough situation on the opening lap.
The field quickly thinned while slogging through the mud, with most riders forced to race on their own – rather than following a wheel – midway through the opening lap. Such was the thickness of the mud that riders had to dismount and run on some flat sections of the course.
By the end of a ten-minute opening lap, only three riders remained within 30 seconds of the lead, with Worst and Lechner the next best on the course behind Kastelijns. The Belgian's advantage only grew on lap 2, racing 40 seconds ahead of her nearest chasers, while fifth-placed Sanne Cant (Belgium) lay a full minute down.
Lap three saw a big change in the situation as Lechner left Worst behind to hunt down Kastelijns. The Italian cut the Dutchwoman's lead in half on the penultimate lap, with 20 seconds between the duo as the bell rung. Worst trailed in six seconds down, and Cant was fourth at just over a minute down.
Lechner continued a persistent chase on the final lap, but the gap was too large to bridge. Minor slips from the leaders didn't affect the race situation, and as Kastelijn hit the finishing straight, she knew that she had time to celebrate her victory.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Yara Kastelijn (Ned)||0:41:05|
|2||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:00:12|
|3||Annemarie Worst (Ned)||0:00:26|
|4||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned)||0:01:09|
|5||Laura Verdonschot (Bel)||0:01:16|
|6||Sanne Cant (Bel)||0:01:23|
|7||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita)|
|8||Alicia Franck (Bel)||0:01:48|
|9||Loes Sels (Bel)||0:01:52|
|10||Ellen Van Loy (Bel)||0:02:11|
|11||Perrine Clauzel (Fra)||0:02:29|
|12||Marlène Petit (Fra)||0:02:38|
|13||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel)||0:02:48|
|14||Geerte Hoeke (Ned)||0:03:04|
|15||Sophie De Boer (Ned)||0:03:18|
|16||Rebecca Gariboldi (Ita)||0:03:39|
|17||Nadja Heigl (Aut)||0:04:13|
|18||Zina Barhoumi (Swi)||0:04:30|
|19||Mari-Liis Mõttus (Est)||0:04:36|
|20||Anna Oberparleiter (Ita)||0:04:47|
|21||Alessia Bulleri (Ita)||0:05:14|
|22||Silvia Persico (Ita)||0:05:55|
|23||Nikola Bajgerová (Cze)||0:06:14|
|24||Katazina Sosna (Ltu)||0:10:04|
|25||Elvira Khayrullina (Rus)||+1 lap|
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.
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