DÜBENDORF, Switzerland—An airfield in the Swiss city of Dübendorf formed the stage of the UCI World Championships Cyclocross this weekend.
After three consecutive rainbow jersey’s for Belgium’s Sanne Cant, the question was could Cant form wings and fly to another title? Or would the Dutch armada control the flyovers and keep the Saturday win streak alive at Worlds? Would 21-year-old Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, after conquering the Dutch Nationals, also conquer her first Elite Worlds after eschewing the U23 category?
Only the Dutch Cleared for Flight
Alvarado rocketed off the line with determination to grab the last holeshot of the day, followed by Annemarie Worst (NED) and Maghalie Rochette (CAN).
Clara Honsinger (USA) faced a mechanical early on in the first lap, hit the ground and was forced to run to the pits. She did not finish, and the American hope quickly shifted to Katie Compton once again.
Soon four riders broke away. To nobody’s surprise, all four of them were clad in the orange of Saturday’s undefeated Dutch team: Lucinda Brand, Dutch Champion Alvarado, European Champion Yara Kastelijn and Worst.
At the end of the first lap, the four already had a 15-second advantage on first chaser Ellen Van Loy (BEL). Defending champion Cant followed in 12th position at 35 seconds in arrears.
Throughout the second lap, Van Loy got support in the chase by Evie Richards (GBR) and Compton. After the pace of the leading group of four dropped, Compton, Richards, and van Loy were about to make it a leading group of seven.
Alvarado didn’t want company. She put in an attack and pared down the leading group to three. Kastelijn dropped away and got passed by Compton.
Worst, who took away the World Cup overall victory from Alvarado in last week’s race in Hoogerheide, fought her way back to Alvarado’s wheel, a first mental test for Alvarado.
At the end of lap two, Brand had rejoined as well. The 3 leaders had a 19-second advantage on Compton and Kastelijn.
Worst attacked on the third lap, putting Alvarado on the defensive, as Brand remained content to follow wheels. A saddle issue and bike change for Brand put the former Dutch Champion 12 seconds behind.
Compton dropped Kastelijn in the meantime, but still faced a 34-second gap on the leading duo.
As Alvarado and Worst eyed each other, neither wanting to take control, Brand rejoined the duo and surged. It wouldn’t be enough. Worst and Alvarado were still there.
A Return to Hoogerheide?
Would the Worlds title be fought between the same two contenders as the World Cup? It seemed fitting. A rematch was in the works.
Brand, however, had other ideas. She rejoined, surged, and then dropped back on technical features repeatedly. Did she have enough? With one final surge, she brought Worst with her, gapping Alvarado. It looked to be down to two. Worst and Brand put in a final kick. Would it come down to a sprint?
On the second to last uphill, Brand lost the connection with Worst. Alvarado slipped by Brand and put in a final effort to get back to the wheel of Worst. The three Dutch were determined to set a last-lap record for lead changes, and Alvarado played her part with a nifty move inside of Worst in a turn before a dismount. It was short-lived. Worst got around after the run-up.
In the second-to-last round of the World Cup in the French city of Nommay Worst had beaten Alvarado in the sprint for victory. Would the same story be written this time?
Just as in Nommay, Worst led out the sprint. Alvarado, not able to pass Worst in Nommay, was out for revenge. She kicked early, eventually drew even with Worst, and then slowly inched ahead.
Fans anticipated a photo finish.
Worst sat up.
Dutch Sweep the Day
Alvarado’s gamble paid off. She passed Worst, overcame her tragic last lap in Hoogerheide, and traded in what seemed like a sure thing in a U23 title to receive the new crown as the Queen of ‘Cross and complete the Dutch sweep of every title on Saturday.
“Right now I’m very tired…I can’t describe how it feels to be World Champion,” Alvarado said after her victory. “I think the other riders will feel a little bit disappointed. It was a close battle between the Dutch riders and I’m very happy I could finish as first.”
Alvarado even surprised herself with her late surge and sprint victory. “I was very tired in the last lap. I didn’t think I would win it today. But the pace went down towards the last bridge. I made a final move with everything I had and made it to the finish line.”
Worst, clearly disappointed, took silver. She sat in silence stunned, and then eventually put a towel over her head.
Brand was almost the comeback kid but fell one surge short. “The title, it was possible, but it was very tough”, the bronze medalist said. “We matched each other. They were a little better in the little uphills and it just wasn’t an easy race. The saddle incident? That definitely didn’t help. But on the last bridge the lactic acid spurted out of my ears. Against those young girls I couldn’t hold it anymore.” (translated, source: Sporza)
Katie Compton once again made her country proud with a fourth place. As European Champion Kastelijn finished fifth, Compton also was the only not Dutch rider in the top five.
Rebecca Fahringer finished 13th. After an early mechanical American National Champion Honsinger wasn’t able to finish her World Championships.
Canadian rider Maghalie Rochette finished 14th, Jennifer Jackson was 27th.
Full results below.
Mathias Dewaelsche and Andrew Yee contributed to this report.
Elite Women Results: 2020 World Championship Dübendorf Switzerland
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Age||Result|
|1||5||ALVARADO||Ceylin del Carmen||NED||22||0:45:20|
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