by Dan Seaton
Hoogerheide, Belgium – Just a week short of one year since she first put on the World Champion’s jersey in these same fields, Marianne Vos’s season came full circle when she stormed to victory in the final World Cup of the 2009-10 season. In her last week in the rainbow stripes—at least, this year’s edition—Vos pulled away from Daphny van den Brand and Sanne van Paassen midway through the 40-minute race and never looked back, showing that she remains on track for next week’s World Championships in Tabor with a 30-second victory.
Vos’ victory this year came in dramatically different conditions than her World Championship win last year, when she chased down Katie Compton on a fast, frozen course. This year the temperatures climbed towards the forties, while a combination of overnight rain and on-and-off drizzle during the day left the course coated in slippery mud. Additionally, the absence of Katie Compton, who was sidelined for the second week in a row by the leg cramps that have interrupted her racing occasionally over the past several years, meant that no one would have to chase the dominant American rider through the mud.
But there was drama almost right from the start line nonetheless when Czech National Champion Katerina Nash crashed dramatically during the first lap. Nash was catapulted over the bars, then forced to play a high speed game of Frogger with the rest of the women’s field in order to get back to her bike.
While Nash was trying to make her way back into the race, a trio of Dutch racers—Vos, van den Brand and van Paassen—managed to pull away to a ten second lead, chased by American Amy Dombroski and German Elizabeth Brandau. Up front, the leaders traded shots, but nothing stuck until Vos managed to open a small gap over the other two coming out of a sweeping, slippery off-camber turn in the middle of the third lap. Vos, sensing an opportunity, gritted her teeth and hit the gas, speeding through the muddy track to stretch her lead to nearly thirty seconds by the end of the next lap.
Behind her, van den Brand and van Paassen rode together, taking turns pushing the pace, but never really following through with a serious attack. Meanwhile, Nash had reached the front of the chase and began to pull away before German champion Hanka Kupfernagel closed the gap and made it a two-woman race for fourth place.
While Vos cruised to her third World Cup victory of the season, van den Brand, whose lead in the overall series standings was secure as long as she finished on the podium, eventually sat up, allowing her teammate van Paassen to take second, her best finish in a World Cup this season.
The second place finish was enough to move Van Paassen into third overall in the World Cup, bumping American Katie Compton, who watched the race from the sidelines near the pits, into fourth.
Nash, meanwhile, edged out Kupfernagel for fourth, ten seconds behind van den Brand. American Amy Dombroski faded slightly after her early action at the front of the chase group, but still managed ninth place, her best World Cup result this year. Other American results included Meredith Miller in 20th, Maureen Bruno-Roy in 23rd, and Christine Vardaros in 40th.
After the race, Vos told reporters that she was happy with her ride today and her prospects going into the World Championships next weekend in Tabor. “I was feeling good,” she said. “Now it is just before the World Championships, so it’s very important that you receive confirmation that your form is good.”
Despite her dominant performance today, Vos said that Worlds will be a wide open race. “For me, there are five favorites,” she told reporters. “They will certainly be looking at me, but Sunday is a new round with new opportunities.”
Compton, for her part, told Cyclocross Magazine that, while she was disappointed to miss a shot at the overall World Cup title, she was feeling optimistic about her chances in Tabor. “I’m starting to feel better, though I’m still not racing today,” said the American national champion. “But my legs are coming around, I think. Today I was able to move around without having the cramping sensation, so that’s a good sign. It usually takes a couple of days after that to feel good and be able to ride again.”
Stay tuned for much more from our chat with Katie Compton, as well as all the inside news out of Tabor, available all week on cxmagazine.com.
|2||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||22||40:28||260||260|
|3||Daphny VAN DEN BRAND||NED||32||40:32||220||220|
|14||Sophie DE BOER||NED||20||42:03||75||75|
|17||Pauline FERRAND PREVOT||FRA||18||42:21||60||60|
|21||Linda VAN RIJEN||NED||22||43:12||48||48|
|23||Maureen BRUNO ROY||USA||35||43:15||44||44|
|31||Nicole DE BIE – LEYTEN||BEL||35||44:16||29||29|
|37||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||30||46:11||23||23|