KOKSIJDE, BELGIUM – On a foggy, damp day in Koksijde, American Katie Compton (Trek) established an early lead and never looked back, taking her second cyclocross World Cup win of the season. Behind her, Nikki Harris continued tto show off her strong form, and spent the whole of the race chasing solo, fending off Lucie Chainel-LeFevre and Sanne Cant for second place. The French champion used impressive skills in the sand to spend the race sitting in third, and looked to have the podium secured. However, Sanne Cant, who twice had crashed hard in the opening laps and looked to be out of contention, had the ride of the day as she picked off the who’s who of elite women and, by the last lap, had brought Chainel-LeFevre into striking distance. Chainel-LeFevre did everything she could to hold off the Belgian, but Cant rode a furious last lap, closed the gap, and powered past the Frenchwoman for third. Helen Wyman (Kona) rolled in a few seconds later, followed by Sanne van Paassen. American Amy Dombroski just missed out on a top ten finish, losing a sprint to Rapha-Focus rider Gabby Day. Compton now leads the World Cup standings with 170 points to the 130 points shared equally by van Paassen, Wyman, and Harris.

Katie Compton wins the Koksijde World Cup © Thomas van Bracht

Katie Compton wins the Koksijde World Cup © Thomas van Bracht

Compton Delivers, Cant Makes Up For Poor Opener

It was a day where few riders escaped Koksijde with a clean race, as the clumpy, deep wet sand of the legendary course created deep ruts that refused to yield to front wheels. The first to be claimed was Havlakova who, as Sanne van Paassen and Sabrina Stultiens took the hole shot side by side, went down on the first corner.

European Champion Helen Wyman took over the early lead, with Sanne Cant looking strong on her wheel and Sanne van Paassen, Sanne Cant, Nikki Harris and Katie Compton all slotted in behind.  As the racers came around to the famous sand-strewn straight-away, Sanne Cant took over the lead as riders shouldered their bikes or chose to run along side them. Cant’s hold on the lead, however, soon left her as she led the group down a steep, rutted descent and lost her front wheel, face-planting to the gasps of the crowd. It was a blunt, hard fall that seemed to daze the Belgian champion slightly, but she recovered, got back up, and slid in a handful of riders down as Nikki Harris took over the lead.

Compton had Harris’ wheel, with a small gap back to Sanne van Paassen and another to Wyman and Chainel-LeFevre. Behind them, Sanne Cant trailed closely behind Sophie de Boer. For a moment it looked as if the riders would regroup, but then Compton stomped on the pedals and established quickly the gap that would eventually balloon to a minute and a half, as behind her Sophie de Boer crashed hard, taking Sanne Cant down with her. While the podium now seemed unreachable for the Belgian champion, the race itself was over for de Boer, who soon after was seen gripping a fence, gasping for air, unable to continue. Eventually a bystander came by to place a jacket over the Telenet-Fidea racer, now off her bike and sitting with her head between her knees.

By the end of the first lap, Compton had clearly established her dominance, and Harris’ second place looked all but secured, as well. Twenty seconds down, Sanne van Paassen, Lucie Chainel-LeFevre, and Sabrina Stultiens made up the chase. It was Chainel-LeFevre, however, who established a dominance of her own as she showed a clear superiority in the sand, coming out of each section with a few more bike lengths than when she went in. By the end of the third lap, she was alone in third, chasing Harris alone in second, chasing Compton alone in the lead.

Though Compton only continued to make gains, she did not have a clean race. The American champion bobbled a number of times, crashing into the sand and shaking her head as she got up and continued on. The mistakes never her cost her much, however, and with clean bike exchanges her lead was never threatened. “I was pretty tired today, from the jet lag,” she explained after the race. “I tend to be more clumsy with technique when tired. I just tried to get off my bike before I lost any speed.”

“It’s hard out there, the sand is just wet enough to be heavy, but not enough to get a line going. I’m feeling good, I want to be consistent, and hopefully the rest of the [World Cups] will be as fast.”

Little changed for the rest of the race, as Compton powered to her second World Cup win in as many editions, and behind her Nikki Harris continued her best season of her career to take second. The race for third, however, was far from over. Sanne Cant, having shaken off the crashes of the first lap, had spent the race slowly catching and moving past a host of riders, and with two to go rode clear of Wyman and Van Paassen. Cant was, to be frank, hauling ass, and she closed on Lucie Chainel-LeFevre with impressive speed, drawing herself within striking distance by the last lap bell. LeFevre threw herself at the course, using all her technique in the sand to hold the Belgian off, but it was not to be. Cant took all the energy that may have gone to a battle for gold and put it into the bronze as she caught and attacked the French champion, riding clear for third. In the battle for fifth place, Sanne van Paassen had an unlucky last lap crash, allowing Wyman to roll across uncontested.

Thomas van Bracht Gallery:


2012 World Cup Koksijde Elite Women

1Katie Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective0:44:10
2Nikki Harris (GBr) Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:01:27
3Sanne Cant (Bel) Veldritacademie Enertherm - BKCP0:01:56
4Lucie Chainel-Lefevre (Fra) BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry0:02:04
5Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Team0:02:16
6Sanne van Paassen (Ned) Rabobank Women Team0:02:33
7Jasmin Achermann (Swi) Rapha-Focus0:02:54
8Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Rabobank Women Team0:03:16
9Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team
10Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus0:03:29
11Amy Dombroski (USA) Young Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team0:03:31
12Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Hitec Products - Mistral Home Cycling Team0:03:38
13Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Melbotech Prorace CT0:04:40
14Arenda Grimberg (Ned) WV Het Stadion0:04:49
15Marlène Morel Petitgirard (Fra) VCCMM0:05:01
16Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:05:03
17Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) Rabobank Women Team0:05:27
18Annefleur Kalvenhaar (Ned) Giant Dealerteams0:05:41
19Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Wielerteam Decock Sportivo Moorsele0:06:10
20Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe)0:06:34
21Nancy Bober (Bel) Style & Concept0:06:49
22Kim Van de Steene (Bel) Kon. VC T Meetjesland-Knesselare0:07:48
23Githa Michiels (Bel) Trek-KMC Trade Team0:08:25
24Tereza Medvedova (Svk)0:09:01
25Hilde Quintens (Bel) Melbotech Prorace CT0:09:37
26Lise-Marie Henzelin (Swi) Team Pro Region RenfersaDNF
27Angelica Edvardsson (Swe)DNF
28Evy Kuijpers (Ned)DNF
29Margriet Kloppenburg (Den) BMC Concept StoreDNF
30Kristien Nelen (Bel) Houffalize Granville TeamDNF
31Christine Vardaros (USA) BabocoDNF
32Lana Verberne (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling TeamDNF
33Lierni Lekuona Etxebeste (Spa)DNF
34Eva Colin (Fra) VC OrnansDNF

Check back for photos and results!