The first 30 minutes of Sunday’s IJsboerke Ladies Trofee Flandriencross looked like a U.S. UCI race with Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) and Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites) trading blows off the front while the rest of the field chased after them.
The last 10 minutes, however, belonged to Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon).
During the midpart of the race, the World Champion lurked about ten seconds back and appeared stuck in no woman’s land. In retrospect, Cant was timing her effort perfectly.
Cant closed the gap to the two leaders early in the bell lap and then moved to the lead spot in the mud alongside pit two. After another muddy turn, she unleashed a decisive attack in the slog alongside the pond to gap Noble and Compton to capture her second win of the weekend.
After repeatedly taking the fight to Compton, Noble was rewarded with an impressive second-place finish for her efforts.
A Marked Woman
Flandriencross is the annual race in Hamme, Belgium that pays homage to hometown hero Greg Van Avermaet. The course was muddy in spots, especially alongside the pond on the lower part of the venue, but it was nowhere near as muddy as Saturday’s World Cup Zeven. Cyclocross conditions, surely, but not quite the level of epic as seen in northern Germany.
The start of the race had a familiar tenor. Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) blasted out to a fast start, and she was then quickly joined by Cant and Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles).
The story of the first month of the season was the young Kaptheijns, who rode several early-race attacks to victories over impressive fields. Her hot results have cooled in November, in part because the other riders have been quick to cover her early moves. On Sunday, Kaptheijns again attacked midway through the first lap, but as they have recently, Cant and the others covered her move.
Lurking behind the lead three were the American duo of Compton and Noble. After one lap, the lead selection was Noble, Compton, Cant, Kaptheijns and Van Loy.
The American Animators
After her strong start at World Cup Zeven was derailed by a mechanical, Noble was more than willing to build on Saturday’s early-race success. Not intimidated by the rainbow stripes and Stars and Stripes in her midst, Noble attacked shortly before the flyover and took the lead. Compton followed and then made a move of her own to capture the mid-race time sprint.
The dual attacks helped the two Americans open up a gap back to the others. Compton continued to push the pace through the rip-and-ride section after the pond and after two laps, the two had ten seconds on the chasers.
Noble unleashed another attack at the start of the third lap and this time opened a gap on Compton. The technical, muddy course fit her skillset well and she was ready to put the pressure on Compton.
In the chase group, Cant broke into a solo third after Kaptheijns bobbled on a deep ditch. With Van Loy also on her heels, the chase now belonged to Cant.
One of the technical features in the second half of the circuit was a series of 180-degree turns along the slope of the river levee. On the first turn, the leading Compton took the tight low line while Noble went around to the high side. Compton slipped and the bobble allowed Noble to regain the lead position. Would this moment affect the last lap? Probably.
Compton recovered and heading into the bell lap, Noble and Compton were in the lead with Cant ten seconds back.
Cant’s Time to Shine
Early in the bell lap, Cant gave all appearances she was ready to turn on the gas and close the gap to the two American leaders. She was five seconds back at the set of small stairs and then made the catch midway into the lap. The lead group was now three.
Still not intimidated, Noble attacked to take the lead right before the flyover. Then Compton countered and retook the lead.
When the riders reached the series of turns along the off-camber, perhaps smarting from her slip the previous lap, Compton went high. Noble displayed her savvy and countered by going low and retaking the lead.
When the riders hit the muddy slog alongside pit two, is was Cant’s turn to attack. She put in a dig and powered into the lead. After the mud pit formed by the power washers, she continued to attack alongside the pond. Compton was flagging and Noble was unable to keep pace with the World Champion’s move.
From there, Cant had smooth sailing through the rip-and-ride to her second victory of the weekend.
Noble’s continued aggression throughout the race was rewarded with an impressive second-place finish.
With her third-place finish, Compton extended her lead in the overall IJsboerke Ladies Trofee series to 2:38 over Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing).
Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) took fifth and Wyman seventh.
Elle Anderson (Cycling.be – Alphamotorhomes Ladies) finished 12th, EuroCrossCamper Clara Honsinger (Team S+M) took 14th and her fellow young star Laurel Rathbun (Donnelly Sports) finished 25th.
🇺🇸 Cx Devo group from Hamme today:
Jrs: 12. Funston; 23. Morton; 29. Wood; 30. Gomez Villafane.
U23: 20. G Ellwood; 25. Chance; 30. Stephenson; dnf Brunner.
Women: 14. Honsinger; 25. Rathbun. Thanks @usacycling for good block of racing!
— GProctor (@CrossSportif) November 26, 2017
Women's Results: 2017 Flandriencross
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|28||32||VAN DER BURG||Esther||NED||0:46:19|
|DNF||41||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL|