Lechner couldn’t hang onto the Dutchwoman’s wheel, and from that point forward, Vos only expanded her lead, looking fierce and powerful, standing out of the corners, smoothly turning the pedals, and clearly on top form. “For me, cyclocross is good preparation for mountain bike. I’m enjoying it, I like it, and that’s the reason I do it,” Lechner said after the race.
Behind them all, Compton began working her way through the field, pulling herself into tenth by the end of the first lap.
The Battle for Bronze
As Vos dominated the course on her way to gold, and Lechner, coming off of illness, gritted her way to silver, the battle for bronze gave viewers the most exciting action of the day.
Towards the end of the second lap, Compton had worked her way up to Wyman and Cant, who had shed themselves of Van Loy and Kupfernagel. Kupfernagel, after suffering a hard crash, pulled out of the race, as did Dutchwoman Sophie de Boer.
For a few turns of the course, it looked as if we would be seeing a repeat of last year’s championship race in Louisville, where Compton, after suffering an early setback, fought her way to a powerful second place, never reaching Vos but handily taking silver. Compton first dispatched Wyman, and then accelerated past Cant on the flyover – as Vos descended on the opposite side, a full minute ahead of the American champion.
Compton, however, did not look her usual commanding self, and the effort had cost her too much. Rather than charge on in pursuit of silver, Compton was again passed by Cant and Wyman, and slowly lost positions for the rest of the race, to finish ninth.
Bronze now belonged to Wyman or Cant, and in an exciting duel, both women threw everything they had at the course and each other, each looking at times to have the upper hand, only to be caught and attacked again.
In the final third of the final lap, however, Wyman – perhaps sensing that a sprint might not go her way – attacked Cant for a final time, and this one stuck. The British National Champion opened up a six second gap over the Belgian Champion, and though Cant clawed her way to within a few bike lengths, it was not enough. Wyman came onto the finishing straight in time to see an ecstatic Lechner cross the line for silver, and was clearly happy with her own podium finish.
The American Side
While Compton was unhappy with her result, the American women as a whole had an impressive showing, with a top 10 and two more in the top 20. “It was really hard!” said Kaitlin Antonneau. “I made a few mistakes in the beginning, and I didn’t really recover from them. I still came back a little bit, I think.”
“I never gave up and felt a lot better in the last laps,” said Elle Anderson. “It was very emotional. There were so many people out there cheering for me, especially my parents who came all the way from Vermont. I was just so excited to be here and to represent the USA. It was just a very emotional race for me.”
It was a rough day for breakout rider Crystal Anthony, as well, who suffered a mechanical right at the start, and had to run to the pits. Problems continued to plague her even after the bike change, as issues with her chain forced the young rider to dismount and pull it clear.
“Warming up, my legs felt flat,” said Anthony, who finished 30th, after the race. “Then I came round a bit. I started OK but then I just hit the wall. I was trying but I had nothing. It’s very disappointing, so I don’t know if that means I should stop now or just reassess myself. Give me a few weeks or months and I will decide.”
Arley Kemmerer finished in 34th, and later reported, “Not where I had hoped to finish, but after two-plus weeks of illness, the odds were against me. But… I’ve had an amazing time, and am so thankful for such a wonderful opportunity.”
The fight for third was nearly a minute after an overjoyed Vos – having recovered from surgery, found her ’cross legs just in time, and performing in front of a home crowd of adoring fans – grabbed and raised the orange scarf of her country, celebrating a remarkable, though not unexpected, seventh title. “I don’t want to choose between them,” she said when asked which win was the best. She laughed, “And I don’t really have to! It’s the seventh, it’s incredible. I can’t believe it’s that many already. For today, I didn’t think about the six before. It’s a new race and you have to do it again. Everyone is the same at the start line.”
As for her motivation, and what makes her keep going, she laughed again and responded, “The girls next to me, they laugh, they wonder about it also. I just like the sport. It’s great to do. I’m trying to get myself at the level to be there in the right moment.”And if the World Champion feels any pressure, that’s all the better for her: “I like the expectation, I like the pressure, I like the big pressure on the biggest races. That’s what I do it for.”
Missed the race? Watch video highlights of the Women’s Elite World Cyclocross Championships here!
This report was written by Rob Carver and contributed to by Paul Burgoine and Molly Hurford
Results below gallery
UCI Cyclocross World Championships 2014 Elite Women by Thomas van Bracht
2014 Cyclocross World Championships Elite Women Full Results
|8||Thalita DE JONG||NED||21||42:17:00|
|12||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||34||42:44:00|
|17||Pauline FERRAND PREVOT||FRA||22||43:18:00|
|19||Alice Maria ARZUFFI||ITA||20||43:20:00|
|22||Aida NUNO PALACIO||ESP||31||43:47:00|
|27||Marlne MOREL PETITGIRARD||FRA||26||44:23:00|
|31||Asa Maria ERLANDSSON||SWE||40||45:26:00|
|37||Rocio MARTIN RODRIGUEZ||ESP||29||46:40:00|
|38||Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG||DEN||26||46:42:00|