To run or not to run, that is the question. At least it often is in cyclocross, right?
On Saturday at IJsboerke Ladies Trofee race in Essen, Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) tried her best to pull away from Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) midway through the race, but the Englishwoman would not give up in her chase.
In the fourth of five laps, the two hit a deep, thick muddy slog with maybe a bike length between them. Cant ran, Brammeier committed to the ride. Brammeier made it through, but the effort slowed her down and Cant had a gap.
Once she cleared the section, Cant looked back and saw she had a few seconds on her rival. As they say on the internet, you’ll never guess what happened next.
Actually, you probably can. Cant attacked and midway through the lap her lead was eight seconds. It would be all she needed to win her fourth-straight race. Brammeier finished second and Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites) finished third, but extended her lead in the overall IJsBoerke Ladies Trofee series to over three minutes.
Old and New Faces in Essen
Saturday’s race in Essen was a return to the cyclocross course for a lot of the world’s top talent after many of them took a rare weekend off to head to warmer climes for some mid-season training before the push to Worlds.
The early selection had a familiar look, albeit with a new face. Cant and Brammeier got off the front early with young Dominican-born Dutch rider Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. Del Carmen Alvarado recently signed with Cant’s Beobank-Corendon team, so her new team had to be happy with their young signee’s willingness to assert herself against tough competition.
In the second of five laps, Brammeier also showed she was ready to challenge Cant and the hot streak she has been riding recently. Cant bobbled in one of the several thick muddy sections and Brammeier took the lead. It was short-lived, but certainly a sign that Cant’s fourth-straight win would not come easy.
Drie leidsters bij de vrouwen: Sanne Cant, Nikki Brammeier en Katie Compton! #DVVtrofee #Essen pic.twitter.com/CI0gbH1xfE
— DVV Trofee (@DVVtrofee) December 9, 2017
Midway through the second lap, the selection was Cant, Brammeier and Compton. A chase group of four formed well back of the lead group.
Things started to move in the lead selection during the third lap. Compton dropped off the pace of the other two and Cant and Brammeier locked horns in the battle for first. The battle did not last long. After Brammeier’s earlier challenges, Cant made it clear she was ready to make Brammeier work to keep her pace.
There was no big attack, but Cant started to open up space on Brammeier. Midway through the lap her lead was maybe three or four seconds. Small, but the pressure was on.
Brammeier, however, responded. At end of the third lap, she was only two seconds back, and then early in lap four, she had more or less made contact with Cant. The stage was set for two exciting laps of racing.
To Ride or Not to Ride
If Shakespeare were a cyclocross fan, he certainly would have pondered one of the great questions of the sport, to run or not to run. Cant has consistently shown she is a strong runner and is never afraid to dismount where necessary. On Saturday, her confidence in that skill paid off.
At one of the thick, mud pits, Cant, in first, dismounted and ran the section. Brammeier committed to the ride. To her credit, she stayed on the bike, but when the two cleared the mire, it was clear running was the better option.
Cant had a four-second gap on Brammeier. She took a look back and saw she had some space back to second. When she has a gap, Cant knows what to do.
Sanne Cant de sterkste in #Essen! Wereldkampioene laat Brammeier en Compton achter zich! #DVVtrofee pic.twitter.com/87Da4ojwTv
— DVV Trofee (@DVVtrofee) December 9, 2017
The defending World Champion again applied the pressure and her reward was an eight-second gap midway through the lap. Her lead was then ten seconds at the bell. She would not be challenged in the laatste ronde. The win was her second-straight in the IJsBoerke Ladies Trofee series.
Brammeier’s reward for challenging Cant was a second-place finish.
Toward the end of the fourth lap, the chase group of four gained a new, but familiar face in Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Canyon), who was starting her first cyclocross race since the 2015 Worlds in Tabor.
Ferrand Prevot caught the chase and then kept accelerating right past the gaggle. She was moving and Compton, in third, appeared to be fading. There was a chance there would be a shuffling of the three-letter nicknames.
The shuffling would not happen. Compton dug deep in the last lap, and KFC held off PFP for third. With Helen Wyman (Kona Factory CX Team) having a rough afternoon, Compton extended her overall lead in the IJsboerke series to 3:22 over Brammeier.
Americans in Essen
In addition to Compton, three other Americans took the start. Emma White finished 16th, Corey Coogan Cisek finished 31st, and Ellen Noble did not finish.
2017 DVV Trofee Series Essen Results - Elite Women
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Team||Age||Result|
|5||20||SELS||Loes||BEL||CRELAN - CHARLES||32||0:40:30|
|7||4||VAN LOY||Ellen||BEL||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||37||0:40:37|
|9||29||DEL CARMEN ALVARADO||Ceylin||NED||19||0:40:52|
|10||23||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL||TARTELETTO - ISOREX||31||0:40:55|
|11||6||KAPTHEIJNS||Maud||NED||CRELAN - CHARLES||23||0:41:03|
|12||40||NAGENGAST||Fleur||NED||TELENET FIDEA LIONS||19||0:41:05|
|13||5||VERDONSCHOT||Laura||BEL||MARLUX - NAPOLEON GAMES||21||0:41:09|
|14||44||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||18||0:41:17|
|18||7||VERSCHUEREN||Jolien||BEL||PAUWELS SAUZEN - VASTGOEDSERVICE||27||0:42:58|
|25||15||VAN DER BURG||Esther||NED||19||0:44:04|
|40||19||VAN BOVEN||Hannah||NED||18||-1 LAP|
|41||21||VAN LOY||Tess||BEL||16||-1 LAP|
|46||48||VAN ROMPAY||Anke||BEL||18||-2 LAPS|