by Ted Burns
The sand dunes at Koksijde, Belgium, are one of the more iconic cyclocross course features in the world, so it is no surprise Sunday’s Telenet UCI World Cup brought out a vaunted field of women’s cyclocross racers. With so many big names in the field, including defending World Champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon), it was a young Dutch upstart who was the Queen of the Dunes in Koksijde.
Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) continued her winning streak with a faultless performance on Sunday. Kaptheijns powered away from the lead group on the first lap as the race rode deep into the legendary Koksijde dunes. Her combination of skill and power propelled her to a victory of nearly a minute over the impressive field of riders.
“It is my first World Cup win, so I am very happy,” Kaptheijns said. “Before the race, I don’t have the trust that I can win here. It was a really hard race, but I knew when I started really fast I can ride through the sand.”
Cyclocross Weather Comes to Koksijde
Fall weather set in with temperatures dropping into the 50s and rain falling overnight. The change created ideal cyclocross conditions for the first European World Cup on the season. After the race, Elle Anderson (Cycling.be – Alpha Motorhomes) expressed disappointment with her 23rd place finish but was pleased with the conditions.
“The sand was great, the little bit of rain overnight made for perfect consistency,” Anderson said. “It’s all about power, balance and following the rut which became harder for me as the race went on and as I tired. Koksijde is one of the most demanding courses on the circuit due to the heavy sand and massive sand run-up.”
Kaptheijns Puts Pressure on Early
Kaptheijns got down to business right at the gun, jumping off the line and taking the holeshot. Kaptheijns ceded the lead to Helen Wyman (Kona) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb), but as the race hit the sand dunes, Kaptheijns began to put distance between herself and the remainder of the field.
“It is only in the sand section I do very well,” Kaptheijns said. “You can ride your own race, it is better than if you need to follow.”
Only Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg – Destil Cycling) could keep Kaptheijns in sight after the first lap, while 30 seconds back a chase group led by Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composite) took up the race for third.
As the race progressed, Kaptheijns continued to put time into the field, driving her lead up to 52 seconds over De Boer and 1:27 to third place by the end of the race.
With Kaptheijns out of reach, De Boer settled into a steady tempo and kept the chase group, which shuffled between Compton, Cant, Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.
Kaptheijns stayed away and De Boer took a solo second.
A Chase for Third
In the final laps, the chase group was whittled down to Cant, Compton, and Sels.
With a lap and a half to go, Compton bobbled at the top of a dune section allowing Cant to get a short gap. Sels proceeded to jump across Cant’s wheel, and the pair took up the race for third without Compton.
Cant attacked Sels heading into the finish, taking the final podium spot and retaining her World Cup lead. Compton sprinted in for fifth, narrowly beating a resurgent Lucinda Brand.
Keough finished the race in 8th and Anderson took 23rd. Mountain bike star Yolanda Neff finished 14th.
Women's Results - 2017 World Cup Koksijde
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Time|
|20||33||DEL CARMEN ALVARADO||Ceylin||NED||0:47:46|
|24||51||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL||0:48:15|
|34||32||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:51:52|