On paper, Sunday’s race at World Cup Namur was not necessarily one Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) was favored at.
With the technical climbs and descents and conditions that conjured up thoughts of her adventure at Druivencross earlier this month, it was not per se a Lucinda Brand course.
All of that was on paper, as they say. Sunday’s result shows why they race the races. Or something like that.
Brand used the race at the famed Citadel of Namur to show the cyclocross world her continued development as a complete cyclocross rider.
After a slow start, Brand bridged to join a lead group of Marianne Vos (WaowDeals), Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts – 777), Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita) and Denise Betsema (Marlux – Bingoal) at the front early in Lap 2. Once there, Brand confidently rode to the front and took over the lead.
Brand stayed on the front, putting pressure on the other riders. With no one challenging her spot at the front, Brand started to pull away in Lap 3. After the run-ups, her lead was six seconds.
Then, at the switchback climb, Brand was already at the top while Vos, Worst and the others were just starting the steep ascent. Brand’s lead had stretched to 15 seconds.
From there, the Dutch standout was gone to her second World Cup win of the season after taking the victory in Tabor last month. Dry power course, muddy, technical course, sloppy mess, whatever the track and conditions, Brand has shown she is a cyclocross force to be reckoned with.
Triple Dutch at the Front
When the Elite Women took to the start line on Sunday in Namur, a steady rain fell on the Citadel, giving the course a nice base of mud. Fortunately for riders, the mud was nowhere near as thick as the Louisville mud the best of the U.S. were still cleaning from their kits and equipment.
After taking the holeshot in Louisville, Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX) took her fast start to the international stage, getting to the front and leading the charge up the first climb. Noble held the lead until Eva Lechner (Cerafin TUV Sud) passed her on a descent. Lechner then ceded the lead to Vos when the Italian slipped out taking the low line on the famed rutted off-camber.
Once in the lead, Vos pushed the pace at the front, briefly drawing out Betsema. When the chaotic first lap finally finished, the Dutch trio of Betsema, Vos and Worst were off the front. Brammeier sat 8 seconds back, and Brand chased 11 seconds after charging back from a slow start that had her outside the Top 15 in the race’s first few minutes.
Behind the first five, Lechner, Loes Sels (Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice) and Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) gave chase.
On the first climb of Lap 2, the top five came together and headed up the incline together. After the multiple first-lap lead changes, Brand confidently went to the front and led into the technical part of the challenging course. The other riders stacked up behind her, before Betsema fell off the chase by a few seconds.
At the end of Lap 2, Brand crossed with a small advantage on Vos, Worst and Brammeier. It would be the closest they got the rest of the race.
Brand Dominates at Namur
Early in the third of five laps, Brand showed no signs of slowing up. Unlike Druivencross, she handled the descents well and powered up the climbs and through the few flats on the Namur course.
About a third of the way into Lap 3, she extended her lead to six seconds on Vos. Her lead continued to grow, and at the switchback climb, the magnitude of her advantage became evident.
When Brand was exiting the steep switchback climb, Vos, Worst and Brammeier were just getting to the bottom. At the end of the lap, Brand’s lead was 15 seconds on the chasers.
From there, the race was all Lucinda Brand. She kept her two countrywomen Vos and Worst over 20 seconds behind her and went on to win by 27 seconds to take her second World Cup win of the 2018/19 season.
Behind Brand, the race to watch was the one for second. At the start of Lap 4, Vos and Worst dropped Brammeier on the first climb. Vos continued to push the pace and got a lead on Worst at the steep run-up that followed. At the bell, Vos’ advantage was six seconds on Worst.
In the final lap, Vos kept Worst at bay, picking up time on the climbs to erase any advantage Worst got on the descents. The World Cup overall leader held on to take second and Worst took third.
With her second-place finish, Vos took firm control of the World Cup overall. She now leads by 41 points over Sanne Cant (IKO – Beobank), who finished 13th on Sunday.
Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing CX) had a head-turning 2018/19 cyclocross debut, riding from the fifth row all the way up to a fourth-place finish, just seconds off the podium.
Keough finished 8th, Noble 17th, Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever p/ Specialized) 20th, Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) 31st, Jenn Jackson (AWI Racing p/b the Crank and Sprocket) 33rd, Ruby West (Specialized / TenSpeed Hero) 41st, Magdelein Valleries Mill (Quebecor/Stingray) 45th, Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes) 47th, Dana Gilligan (Next Wave) 66th, Corey Coogan Cisek (Amy D. Foundation) 68th, Jen Malik (Redkite Racing) 73rd, Emily Werner (Amy D. Foundation) 74th, Sidney McGill (Focus CX Canada) 76th and Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) was a DNF.
Full results are below.
Elite Women Results: 2018 World Cup Namur
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|9||24||ALVARADO||Ceylin del Carmen||NED||0:47:08|
|27||27||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:49:20|