On the final stop of the 2020-2021 UCI Cyclocross World Cup, six days before the World Championships, racers and fans were keen to see who was on top form.
When it comes to descents, Ceylin Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) was the top rider going from top to bottom of the hilly Overijse course.
In one of the best women’s races of an exciting season, ten racers entered the penultimate lap within 20 seconds of the front.
Vos Attacks Early
Early on in the race, it was Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) at the front, determined to find clear lines on the first descents and show that she’s ready to add yet another rainbow jersey to her world championship wardrobe.
Alvarado, the current World Champ, wasn’t ready to watch the living legend ride away. The two took to the front, leaving Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) and World Cup leader Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions) to chase.
Behind, Mannon Bakker (Credishop-Fristads), Anna Kay (Star Casino), Evie Richards (Trek Factory) gave chase with Clara Honsinger (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) moving up through traffic to ride into the top twenty in the first lap.
Fast Starts and Fast Finishes
While Vos faded, Honsinger and Bakker rose to close within sight of early leaders Brand, Betsema and Alvarado on the third of five laps.
On the fourth lap, in a moment of calm, the race came together. Suddenly, a line of ten riders wrapped around the course’s multiple hairpins. Could we see a sprint finish?
Could Honsinger improve upon her second and third place World Cup finishes? Could Bakker upset her compatriots? Might Richards or Sanne Cant, lurking 12 seconds back, prevent a Dutch domination?
Brand and Alvarado didn’t want to find out.
Down to Two
Brand attacked the run-ups and put the power down on the climbs, while Alvarado held on. Within half a lap, the duo had twenty seconds in hand.
On the final lap at the top of the climb, Alvardo surged to the front, bombed the descent, and had Brand on the ropes, with her foot out, hoping to stay upright.
Alvardo slid through the corners, avoided crashing in the one corner that gave her trouble earlier in the race, and looked ready to repeat as World Champion next Saturday.
Behind, Brand looked to have second place locked up, until a surging Bakker made contact, only to be outkicked in the final straight. The third place was Bakker’s best-ever World Cup finish.
It’s quite a rise for Bakker, who just two seasons ago was sprinting for the win with Jenn Jackson on Friday night of Jingle Cross.
“It was a crazy race,” said Bakker at the finish. “I was super happy to be in the front group. The whole race I was like, c’mon, you’re riding for a podium! To get third is just amazing.”
Brand was content with her second place and World Cup overall victory. “It was very close,” she said at the finish. “It was about how much you lose on the part that doesn’t suit you.”
In Overjise, Alvarado minimized her losses on the power sections and used one masterful lap to descend to victory.
Despite Alvarado’s victory in the final event, Brand remained victorious in the overall series, which she had wrapped up before the start of today.
Your 2020/21 #CXWorldCup overall winner.
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) January 24, 2021
Americans will take pride in Honsinger’s impressive fourth in the event, overcoming a slow start to storm back and contend for the podium.
Other Americans in the event consisted of Maddie Munro (Trek Factory), Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano), Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek, Knight) and Cyclocross Magazine columnist Corey Coogan Cisek (Velo Revolution – CX Custom). They placed 27th, 28th, 39th, 42nd and 52nd respectively.
From Canada, we saw Maghalie Rochette (Specialized Feedback), Sidney McGill (Pedal Head) and Ruby West (Proximus – Alphamotorhomes – Doltcini). They placed 29th, 32nd and 51st respectively.
Full results below.
2021 World Cup Overijse Results: Elite Women
|1||1||ALVARADO Ceylin del Carmen||NED||23||0:49:48|
|9||70||VAS Kata Blanka||HUN||20||0:51:03|
|12||11||VAN EMPEL Fem||NED||19||0:51:28|
|14||8||VAN ALPHEN Aniek||NED||22||0:51:32|
|15||28||NORBERT RIBEROLLE Marion||FRA||22||0:51:33|
|23||49||ARZUFFI Alice Maria||ITA||27||0:52:41|
|31||16||VAN LOY Ellen||BEL||41||0:54:31|
|38||39||NUÑO PALACIO Aida||ESP||38||0:55:50|
|43||38||GONZALEZ BLANCO Lucia||ESP||31||0:56:51|
|44||24||DE WILDE Julie||BEL||19||0:57:18|
|52||48||COOGAN CISEK Corey||USA||44||1:00:14|
|56||41||DIAZ LOPEZ Paula||ESP||24|
|12||DE BOER Sophie||NED||31||DNF|
|7||VAN DER HEIJDEN Inge||NED||22||DNS|