MILTON KEYNES, England – Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) took over as the leader of the 2014-2015 Cyclocross World Cup series at the end of round three, with an impressive performance, edging out Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) at the line.
The race began with a ferocious sprint leading to a muddy corner that included a long stretch of off-camber riding. Meredith Miller (Noosa) was apprehensive about the start yesterday on social media. She came out with a game plan at the start of the race today, taking the fifth wheel right from the first turn and was the last rider to safely get clear of the mud as chaos ensued behind. One rider near the front attempted to stick the highest line and failed, sweeping down the muddy course and creating a pileup in her wake.
Americans Rachel Llyod (California Giant), Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) were caught up in the crash, but many were able to break free early, creating a large American force at the front of the race. Compton was held in check a little longer, and would have to work her way up the course over the next few laps to get near the front.
Cant made her presence known early on at Milton Keynes, the first World Cup event to be held outside of mainland Europe, taking the lead in the first lap. Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) joined Cant at the front of the race for the first half of the starting lap with hometown favorite Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) just off the pace.
Compton asserted herself in the second lap, moving into second position before putting in a dig before the stair section near the end of the course. Cant responded and the two managed a gap that extended to ten seconds by the end of lap two.
The British racers were in contention. Harris, motivated by the crowds and now joined by Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) and Van Loy, struggled to catch the leaders but could not close the gap. Wyman suffered several crashes, and would be gapped each time she fell.
Behind, Gabby Durrin (Neon Velo) got caught up in the first corner but would have a strong second half of the race. “The start was sort of crazy – you come off the road and then you’re straight away into slippery off camber,” Durrin told Cyclocross Magazine. “I got held up quite a lot there. People were crashing everywhere and it was just a matter of running and trying to pick your way through.” Her bad luck continued on the second lap, when she would drop her chain. “It was ages trying to put it back on and people were coming past me,” she recalled.
Back at the front, Cant tried to distance herself with a push in lap four, but Compton refused to let the Belgian gain an advantage, and the two leaders returned punches as each tried to shake the other.
Cant’s full-body style gave the appearance of fatigue, but as the two turned onto the finishing stretch with Compton leading out, it was Cant who had the better sprint, throwing her bike at the line to take the win.
Harris held her position to take third, 32 seconds down on the leader with Van Loy and Lucie Chaninel-Lefevre (EC Stephanois) capping out the top five. Wyman finished eighth after sliding on an off-camber and loosing ground.
The muddy English course may not have suited Sopie De Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg continental Team), who went into the race as the World Cup leader, but finished sixteenth for the day, 2:57 down.
Llyod and Antonneau will likely be excited about their top ten finishes as they took ninth and seventh, respectively. According to the USAC requirements for making the World’s Team, a top five at a World Cup gets a rider funded for travel expenses and ground support. While a top ten isn’t enough for transportation funding, their placements will put both riders in a strong position to make the team. The only riders with stronger showings thus far are Compton and Elle Anderson, who have finished first and fifth at Valkenburg.
French riders Lucie Chainel-Lefevre and Caroline Mani also had impressive rides today, taking fifth and sixth on the day. Meredith Miller took 12th overall, continuing a very impressive season as one of the habitual leaders of the Pro CX Standings.
Crystal Anthony was 17th, and Christine Vardaros finished in 37th. Canadian Maghalie Rochette finished in 25th.
The British team was strong on home soil, with Harris in thrid, Wyamn in eighth, and Durrin in 19th. Up-and-coming Amira Mellor finished in 26th, Belgian-based Hannah Payton in 31st, Ffion James in 32, with Annabel Simpson in 38th.
The event appeared to be a success on all levels, but was especially sweet for the British racers. “That was the most incredible experience I’ve had in a bike race,” Wyman told Cyclocross Magazine. “It was unbelievably loud, cheering my name! The race itself, I rode some good bits, I had a few crashes and that kept putting me back. The form’s good!”
Wyman was vocal in her support of the event, telling the UCI’s Peter van den Abeele, “You’ve got to make this a World Champs before I finish my career!”
Gabby Durrin agreed, saying, “It was louder, amazing, incredible, the best we’ve ever had. We had so much support. It might as well have been a world championships.”
2014 Milton Keynes World Cup Women's Elite Race
|4||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||34||46:06:00|
|13||Aida NUNO PALACIO||ESP||31||47:58:00|
|16||Sophie DE BOER||NED||24||48:22:00|
|21||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||26||50:05:00|
|24||Bianca VAN DEN HOEK||NED||38||50:32:00|
|30||Mercedes PACIOS PUJADO||ESP||31||51:39:00|
|36||Asa Maria ERLANDSSON||SWE||40||53:57:00|