Last weekend at the European Championships, Alice Maria Arzuffi (Steylaerts – 777) found herself celebrating teammate Annemarie Worst’s (Steylaerts – 777) big win.
On Sunday at Superprestige Gavere, Arzuffi got to toast her own success.
Sunday’s muddy Superprestige started with Worst showing off her new European champion’s kit, with the Dutch rider quickly taking the lead. With mud seemingly covering every inch of the course, the was little chance Gavere would be a 45-minute coronation for her.
In the second lap, Cant caught Worst, and then Arzuffi came flying up to close a 20-second deficit to make it a group of three.
On a muddy Saturday in Niel, Cant gave everyone a reminder that when conditions turn ugly, she is right at home. For most of the third lap at Gavere, she drove the pace and put the pressure on Arzuffi and a flagging Worst.
Then one slip and everything changed.
Shortly before Pit 2, riders had to trudge, slog and power up a long, thick, muddy climb. At the bottom, Cant slipped out and had to dismount. Arzuffi took the lead and Worst moved into second while Cant had to run to find a spot to remount.
When the mud settled, Arzuffi had an 18-second lead at the bell.
All the Italian had to do was not make any mistakes for eight more minutes—easier said than done at Gavere Sunday, of course. She stayed clean to win the first Superprestige of her career.
Strong Steylaerts Start
Sunday’s Superprestige in Gavere was Annemarie Worst’s first race in her new blue European stripes. After a fast start by Cant, Worst took over the lead position and let everyone watching get a good look at her new kit by shooting off the front and holding a several second advantage on Cant and the others.
Early on, a rotating group of riders that included Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Corendon – Circus) joined Cant near the front in the muddy melee.
As the first lap neared its close, Cant emerged as the first chaser behind Worst. Cant trailed Worst by 7 seconds after one lap, Del Carmen Alvarado and Arzuffi 18 seconds and Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita) 27. I mention these splits for a reason, in case the reader was wondering.
In the second of five laps, Cant started to close Worst’s lead.
At the entrance to Pit 1, the Gavere mud claimed its first major victim. Worst went down trying to enter the pit, allowing Cant to speed past and move into first. Worst recovered, but now found herself chasing, with teammate Arzuffi right behind her.
Midway through the lap, Arzuffi completed her charge to the front by catching Worst and Cant and then pulling around into first. Results would show, it was a sign of how strong she was feeling this Sunday.
A Slip and a Memorable Win
After catching Worst and taking the lead, Cant asserted herself again. She took the lead spot at the start of Lap 3 and drove the pace for much of the lap. Arzuffi stuck her wheel, while Worst was flagging and struggling to keep up with Cant’s pace.
Perhaps the most decisive feature on the course in the Elite Women’s race was the looooong, thick climb up to Pit 2. The words slog, trudge and grind come to mind when looking at the climb.
In Lap 3, sitting in the lead, Cant slipped out at the bottom of the climb. While she ran to find a spot to remount, Arzuffi and Worst both pulled around her.
When Arzuffi crossed with two to go, she held an 18-second advantage over Worst and 21-second gap over Cant.
In the penultimate lap, Arzuffi at the front was a constant, while the riders behind her jockeyed for position. With Worst seemingly having a tough afternoon, Cant quickly moved into second as the solo chase. However, at the end of the lap, she again flagged on the slog of a climb, and Brammeier moved into second. Cant and Worst were now battling for third, not first.
It would have been nice to say the last lap was a coronation for Arzuffi en route to winning her first career Superprestige race. However, with the muddy conditions, it was anything but.
That said, Arzuffi stayed clean and upright during the last lap to win with a comfortable margin.
Brammeier held onto second, and Cant outsprinted Worst at the end to take third.
Helen Wyman (Xypex – Verge Sport) finished strong, taking advantage of the climb to take fifth.
Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes) finished 19th and Compton 24th.
Full results are below.
Elite Women's Results: 2018 Superprestige Gavere
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|7||31||DEL CARMEN ALVARADO||Ceylin||NED||0:46:30|
|9||24||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL||0:46:49|
|18||34||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:49:36|
|26||42||VAN DER BURG||Esther||NED||0:53:45|
|32||27||VAN DE PUTTE||Kim||BEL||-3 LAPS|
|37||43||VAN WATERSCHOOT||Famke||NED||-4 LAPS|