Marianne Vos repeats as Cyclocross World Champion in Tabor. © Joe Sales

Marianne Vos repeats as Cyclocross World Champion in Tabor. © Joe Sales

Tabor, Czech Republic – Joyce Vanderbeken, former Belgian champion, perhaps summed up the day in Tabor for a lot of riders, “I was afraid. I lost a lot of places because of it.” But Marianne Vos was clearly able to put fear aside as she won her third Cyclocross World Championship, her sixth title in all cycling disciplines, in Tabor with a dominating performance that left the rest of the world’s best in her wake. Vos used her superior handling skills and a supreme level of confidence to dive into corners and power out of them, gaining time on her rivals with every turn. 

Vos was the best straight off the line, grabbing the lead in an early break that included German Hanka Kupfernagel, Dutch racer Daphny Van Den Brand, and a trio of French riders, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau, Caroline Mani, and Pauline Ferrand Prevot. Vos tore through the course, riding like she was on rails while others racers slipped, many taking confidence-breaking falls in the icy conditions.  With chilly morning temperatures and light snow falling on the course, only Vos looked comfortable on her bike.

The Dutch led from start to finish. © Joe Sales

The Dutch led from start to finish. © Joe Sales

Initially, Kupfernagel and Van Den Brand were able to match accelerations and stay with Vos, but she soon proved to be too strong. While Van Den Brand dropped off during the second of five laps, Kupfernagel held on for another lap or so. But despite her best efforts, coming into the third lap Vos had a nearly ten second advantage over the German.

Throughout the season only American Katie Compton, who continued to struggle with cramping and left the race after only one lap, and Van Den Brand have been able to match the 22 year old Dutchwoman Vos.  And with Compton out of the race and Van Den Brand clearly struggling, Vos simply rode away from the rest of the field.

Kupfernagel battled hard to hold the gap to Vos, but was completely overpowered, losing more than ten seconds every lap.  Though the top two steps of the podium may have repeated 2009’s result, the story was dramatically different than the narrow win Vos took in Hoogerheide, with Kupfernagel 45 seconds off the pace and Van Den Brand in third, fifteen seconds behind her.

While the battle for first was won early, the battle for the final step of the podium was waged for the whole race. Van Den Brand held off a determined Katerina Nash, who did everything she could to secure another medal for the host country.  Nash was named as a top contender by the other racers after her strong performances in Roubaix and Hoogerheide, and, as a favorite of both Czech and American fans, was boosted by a wave of support that followed her around the course. Thought it looked for a time like Nash might reach Van Den Brand, some late bobbles appeared to rattle her, and the Czech rider ended up in fourth, some twenty seconds back from Van Den Brand.

Vos, in rainbow stripes for the second year in a row, was positively jubilant at the finish. “I was good from the start,” said Vos. “I didn’t make any mistakes and felt good. I could keep the pressure on in the corners, and that made the difference.”

“It’s a big difference this year [from last year’s title] because I was the best on the course,” she continued. “Last year I wasn’t, so I think this year feels better.”

Kupfernagel, who’s season started slow and has had relatively few real high points, seemed satisfied with the silver medal. “Today the first laps were difficult, but I felt good by the third lap, and I’m happy with second place after this season,” she said.

At 35, Kupfernagel has more experience than almost anybody in the elite ranks of women’s ‘cross, and told reporters that the sport has blossomed in the past few years. “Women’s ‘cross gets more developed and stronger every year,” she said. “There were five favorites today and, with the conditions, I think no one could say who would be the winner. And for the future of women’s ‘cross, that’s a good sign.” Kupfernagel has already targeted next year’s World Championships in St Wendel, Germany, near her home, as a long term goal.

Van Den Brand, who was characteristically fiery at the end of the race,  said, “When I came off the finish I was disappointed, but now I’m glad. I wasn’t good today, Marianne was better. It was good she won.”

Sanne Cant, the only other Belgian to join Vanderbeken for the World Championships, had similar luck on the day. “The first round wasn’t good, then I crashed three laps before the end and fell again,” she said. “My chain was stuck and I had to run to the pits. I think I had the legs for a top-ten but for the crashes and the running.”

Today proved to be a bittersweet day for American fans. While Nash, who races most of her season in America and is the current USGP Champion, had a good day, US National Champion Katie Compton—America’s best hope for a women’s medal—did not fare as well. The leg cramps that have Compton plagued on-and-off for most of her career derailed her training and preparation into the last World Cups and still lingered today. Compton took the start but was forced to pull out before the second lap.

“I was optimistic that I could race and finish,” said a very disappointed Compton afterwards. “I did ten minutes on rollers, then did some massage and stretched my legs and hoped for the best on the start line. I had a bad start, because I missed my pedal and the leg pain came pretty quickly. I was able to push through it and at least ride one lap, but it got to the point where I just couldn’t do anymore and I pulled out before the stairs because I wasn’t going to get up that hill one more time.”

The rest of the American squad put in great performances though, with both Meredith Miller and Amy Dombroski reaching the top-15. Early on Dombroski seemed poised for a spectacular performance, threatening to break into the top-10 at times, but the conditions proved difficult for her, and she fell back into 14th place. Meredith Miller was the top American finishing in 12th, a bit of a surprise given the conditions and her background as more of a road racer.

“I’m not happy,” Dombroski told us. “I had a pretty terrible start. I was having trouble keeping focus. Some laps I was fine, riding good lines, but other laps I couldn’t get out of my own way.”

Maureen Bruno Roy finished in 25th place and Laura Van Gilder came across the line in 31st. Van Gilder’s performance was impressive when you consider she came over to Europe late without racing any European races in preparation.

Bruno Roy said that, as one of the few elite racers who also works full-time, she found it difficult to prepare for racing after the US National Championships. “It’s been tough to build any additional fitness after Nationals,” she said. “You really hit a plateau and you’re just trying to maintain fitness. I maintained enough fitness, but this is another level of racing. Right now I feel like I’m a bit of a one-speed rider, it being late in the season. You can’t jump a level in that amount of time.” Nonetheless, she said she was pleased with her race and happy with her European campaign. She added that she looked forward to a return to this side of the Atlantic next season if her schedule would allow it.

Van Gilder, who at 45 was the oldest racer at the World Championships, told us that she nonetheless is continuing to improve and learning to be a better racer.  “I knew the course would be challenging, and it was,” she said. “It was icy, and I went down a couple times, and I think that made me overly cautious. That made the difference today.  I’m disappointed, but I think I have transitioned to a higher level this year.”

Find complete coverage, photos, reports and replay our live coverage from Saturday and Sunday in our 2010 Tabor Cyclocross Worlds Coverage Center.

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Full Results:

RankBibNameCountryTime
11VOS MarianneNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS0:42:59
226KUPFERNAGEL HankaGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+00:45
32VAN DEN BRAND DaphnyNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+01:02
435NASH KaterinaCZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE+01:20
522LECHNER EvaITALY / ITALIE+01:41
613FERRIER-BRUNEAU ChristelFRANCE / FRANCE+01:47
714MANI CarolineFRANCE / FRANCE+01:53
817FERRAND PREVOT PaulineFRANCE / FRANCE+02:11
93VAN PAASSEN SanneNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+02:28
1015CHAINEL-LEFEVRE LucieFRANCE / FRANCE+02:31
1121LAST AnnieGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+02:37
1210MILLER MeredithUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+02:55
1329SCHWEIZER SabrinaGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+03:00
149DOMBROSKI AmyUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+03:16
1524CANT SanneBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+03:18
164VAN RIJEN LindaNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+03:23
1741GAMONAL FERRERA RocioSPAIN / ESPAGNE+03:30
1816DEMARET GUICHARDOT MaureenFRANCE / FRANCE+03:39
1920HARRIS NikkiGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+03:49
2027BRANDAU ElisabethGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+04:02
2128ZWICK MartinaGERMANY / ALLEMAGNE+04:04
2234LEUMANN KatrinSWITZERLAND / SUISSE+04:09
2318WYMAN HelenGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+04:09
2425VANDERBEKEN JoyceBELGIUM / BELGIQUE+04:27
2511BRUNO ROY MaureenUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+04:28
267GRIMBERG ArendaNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+04:37
2719DAY GabriellaGREAT BRITAIN / GRANDE-BRETAGNE+04:51
2837KYPTOVA JanaCZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE+05:00
296DE BOER SophieNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+05:00
3036HAVLIKOVA PavlaCZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE+05:25
3112VAN GILDER LauraUNITED STATES OF AMERICA+05:53
325HORMES RezaNETHERLANDS / PAYS-BAS+06:10
3339MIKULASKOVA MartinaCZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE+06:14
3438PIRZKALLOVA ZuzanaCZECH REPUBLIC / REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE+06:15
3531MORITA MasamiJAPAN / JAPON+06:36
3640HANSEN NikolineDENMARK / DANEMARK+07:06
3742WASIUK MarzenaPOLAND / POLOGNE+07:16
3830TOYOOKA AyakoJAPAN / JAPON+07:28
3933FUKUMOTO ChikaJAPAN / JAPON+08:57
4032SHIMURA MichikoJAPAN / JAPON+09:48
4123THOMAS VickiCANADA / CANADA+10:31
4244DOSA EszterHUNGARY / HONGRIE-1LAP
4343VOJTASOVA ZuzanaSLOVAKIA / SLOVAQUIE-1LAP