The start at the unique Superprestige Diegem night race is known for producing its share of chaos. Thanks to tight early switchbacks and a treacherous off-camber, getting out to a fast start is usually a must for those with podium aspirations.
On Sunday in Diegem, there was more early-race mayhem. One rider, however, was able to overcome the early mess to roar back for her latest patented win.
After Eva Lechner (Cerafin TUV Sud) and Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts – 777) rode the slick off-camber, Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) slipped out. So did Sanne Cant and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Corendon – Circus). The ensuing melee held the field up while Lechner and Worst went flying off the front.
Their early lead stretched to 10 seconds minutes into the race.
With Worst and Lechner trading leads at the front, a chase that included Cant, Denise Betsema (Marlux – Bingoal) and Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan – Charles) started chipping away at the duo’s early lead. With two to go, the two leaders were still 10 seconds out front.
In the fourth lap, Worst made a mistake on the off-camber, getting held up at the bottom, which allowed Lechner to spring solo off the front.
The race was now Lechner v. The World, with the World being Cant, Worst and Betsema.
The chase finally caught Lechner halfway through the last lap. After several lead changes, Cant got to the front.
Sanne Cant then did Sanne Cant bell lap things. Namely, winning the race with one final flourish.
Cant held her lead heading through the small mud pit and toward the stairs that climb to the finishing straight. With a few bike lengths on Worst at the top of the stairs, Cant got her latest last-lap victory with an impressive comeback in front of the raucous Diegem evening crowd.
The Off-Camber Giveth, The Off-Camber Taketh Away
Night race, day race, Eva Lechner is known for starting fast and under the lights at Diegem in the suburbs of Brussels, it was no different. Lechner took the holeshot and led the field into the tight switchbacks before the notorious steep, slick off-camber.
As it often does, the tight Diegem course produced two early pile-ups. One at the start and one in the tight switchbacks. The latter was near the front of the field and held up series leader Alice Maria Arzuffi (Steylaerts – 777).
Lechner and Worst rode the high line of the off-camber cleanly, but sitting third wheel, Van Loy went down. So did Cant and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. As the two leaders sped away, the early chasers scrambled to find their footing and take up the chase.
Behind the two leaders, Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita), Betsema, Van Loy and Alvarado led the frantic chase of the early leaders.
Lechner slipped out in the mud pit shortly before the stair climb to the start/finish straight, giving Worst an advantage one lap in. Worst’s lead, however, was short lived. She slipped on the off-camber, allowing Lechner to take the lead. Behind them, Alvarado eschewing riding and took over solo third by running the entire off-camber.
Worst again got a small gap at the end of the lap, and two laps in, Worst led Lechner by 4 seconds, while six chasers—Brammeier, Betsema, Alvarado, Cant, Kaptheijns and Laura Verdonschot (Marlux – Bingoal) were 21 seconds back.
In the third of five laps, Worst and Lechner both rode the off-camber, while a majority of the chasers ran the feature. Lechner again caught Worst on the streets of Diegem and took the lead, but Worst regained the front entering the sand pit to lead the way once again.
Behind the two leaders, Kaptheijns moved into third, a few seconds ahead of Cant and Betsema, by riding the sand while Cant and Betsema dismounted and ran. With two to go, Lechner and Worst still led by 10 seconds over Kaptheijns, Cant and Betsema.
The question entering the last part of the race was if the Lap 1 off-camber would truly giveth one of the two leaders a Diegem win.
Sanne Cant Does Bell Lap Sanne Cant Things
Lechner and Worst are best known for the technical skills, while Cant is known for her late-race magic. The two leaders had their work cut out of them.
The first to crack was Worst. With two to go, Lechner again rode the off-camber flawlessly. Worst slipped to the low line midway through and struggled her way around the final post. Lechner now had a lead equal to roughly one soccer field—let’s call it a lot of bike lengths?—early in the lap.
Midway through the penultimate lap, it appeared that Worst had popped. She faded back to join Cant and Betsema in the chase, while Lechner did everything she could to hold her lead.
At the bell, Lechner led by five seconds over Cant and Betsema. Worst trailed them by a few seconds more.
The stage was set for an exciting last lap.
After her early off-camber struggles, Worst aced the feature in the bell lap to move up into second. As the riders hit the streets of Diegem, Lechner still led by four seconds, but Betsema moved into second to lead the charge forward. After powering through the paved straights, the chasers finally caught Lechner. It was now four riders and half a lap left to go.
Lechner recovered after being caught and re-took the lead by riding the sand. Betsema then passed her at the barriers, only to be passed by Worst at the remount.
Shortly thereafter, Cant finally went to the front for the first time in the race. Cant has won a bike race or two with a last-lap flourish, so the other riders were on high alert. As the narrow corners and features ticked down, Cant was still in the lead.
Cant cleared the mud pit first and dismounted to run toward the stairs. Worst followed closed behind but trailed by a few steps when the two hit the stairs.
Cant remounted first and by the time Worst was on her bike, Cant already had a several bike length lead. It was all she needed to complete her last lap comeback and latest exhibition of her last-lap magic.
Wat een koers! @sannecant wint na een indrukwekkende inhaalrace en is meteen de nieuwe leidster in het klassement 🥇 #SPDiegem pic.twitter.com/Fs6Qhf1jvJ
— SuperprestigeCX (@SuperprestigeCX) December 30, 2018
Worst took second and Betsema third. Lechner finished just off the podium in fourth.
Keough finished 14th, Jenn Jackson (AWI Racing p/b the Crank and Sprocket) 22nd, Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) 23rd, Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes) 29th, Dana Gilligan (Next Wave) 34th, Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Quebecor/Stingray) 38th, Rebecca Gross (Zero D Racing) 42nd, Sidney McGill (Focus CX Canada) 47th and Ruby West (Specialized / TenSpeed Hero) 62nd.
Full results are below.
Elite Women Results: 2018 Superprestige Diegem
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|9||31||ALVARADO||Ceylin del Carmen||NED||0:42:40|
|11||34||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:42:50|
|32||29||VAN DE REE||Monique||NED||0:46:47|
|53||17||CUETO VEGA||Sara||ESP||-1 LAP|
|60||27||DE ROECK||Naomi||BEL||-2 LAPS|