Sunday’s Women’s World Cup Hoogerheide proved the old adage it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Early on, a who’s who of the 2018/19 season that included Marianne Vos (CCC – Liv), Sanne Cant (IKO – Beobank) and Denise Betsema (Marlux – Bingoal) got off the front of the full World Cup field getting one last tune-up in before Saturday’s World Championships in Denmark.
Not in that group in the early stages was World Cup Namur and Dutch National Championships winner Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb). Brand got off to an okay start and was back in around 10th position in the early minutes of the race.
On a thick, muddy course suited to her power, Brand did not panic. At the end of one lap, she was in the first chase, and during the second lap, she bridged to the front and then took over driving the pace through the mud. With her were a powerful group of Vos, Cant, Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita) and Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight).
It was a perfect chance for one of the five women to make an authoritative statement heading off to Bogense. After swapping for a new bike in Lap 3, Brand again went to the front and forced the others to chase. At first her lead was a few bikes lengths, and then at the bell, it was 14 seconds.
Brand stayed near flawless in the last lap to take the win and prove that a slow start can become a fast finish if you stay calm and take advantage of your strengths on a tough course like the one at Hoogerheide on Sunday.
A Who’s Who
After a rather dry season in Benelux, the World Cup series went out in muddy fashion in the Netherlands on Sunday. Mid-week snow turned to rain to leave the annual World Cup finale course at Hoogerheide covered in thick mud.
Despite the conditions, the race started fast. Vos took the holeshot and pushed the pace at the front. Early on, Cant, Betsema, Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Corendon – Circus) stayed close while the rest of the field sorted itself out.
By Pit 2, the lead group became Cant, Vos and Betsema with Brammeier and Brand chasing a little under 10 seconds behind them. At the end of the first lap, Compton, Keough and Christine Majerus (Boels – Dolmans) sat another 7 seconds behind the first chasers.
In the second of four laps—lap times were over 10 minutes—the situation in the lead group became more fluid, with the group starting to split apart a bit at Pit 1 as some riders opted for a bike change while others powered through.
As the lap progressed, Betsema faded off the lead, while Cant and Vos dueled for position at the front. After her slow start, Brand calmly moved to third ahead of Betsema and then completed her bridge at Pit 2. Behind the leaders, Brammeier also worked her way forward and made the catch at the barriers to make it a group of four. Right behind her was Katie Compton.
Heading off the pavement into the penultimate lap, the lead group became Brand, Cant, Vos, Brammeier and Compton. The stage was set for one of those riders to send a little statement just six days before the World Championships in Denmark.
Brand Powers Up
The last two months have been a breakout for Brand, with the Dutch National Champion showing she can win on any kind of course. Her dominant wins at Druivencross and Namur showed that she especially excels when conditions are thick and sheer power is at a premium.
Early in the third lap, Brand retook the lead after getting a bike in Pit 1. She did not so much attack as pedal really hard at the front. Sitting second wheel, Brammeier could not keep Brand’s pace, and the Dutch star soon had a few bike lengths worth of lead.
Sensing the win riding away, Cant then moved to the front to take up the chase. Brand’s lead, however, kept growing.
Midway through the third lap, either a mechanical problem or the fast start appeared to catch up with Vos. She quickly faded, and Compton moved into third. Compton then caught Cant, who slowed up after her initial chase of Brand.
With one lap to go, Brand led Compton and Cant by 14 seconds.
In the last lap, Brand continued what she started midway through Lap 3. She stayed smooth and strong and kept her lead over the chasers up above 10 seconds. She was not challenged the last lap to take home her second World Cup win of the 2018/19 season and head into Worlds on a four-race winning streak.
Behind Brand, Compton led into the last lap and started to pick up a second on Cant on each of the muddy descents. Midway into the lap, Cant faded back toward Vos, while Compton firmly established her hold on second.
Compton held on to take second and overcome her Hoogerheide Hex with her first finish in the top 10 at Hoogerheide since 2012.
Vos took third to round out the podium.
Keough beat Betsema in the last lap to finish a strong sixth.
U.S.-based Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) finished 11th, Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 18th, Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX) 19th, Caroline Mani (Van Dessel Factory Team) 26th, Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles/Maxxis p/b Stan’s/DNA Cycling) 27th, Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle – Groove Subaru) 36th, Madigan Munro (Boulder Junior Cycling) 46th, Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes) 47th, Ruby West (Specialized / Tenspeed Hero) 48th, Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX) 51st, Sammi Runnels (Squid Squad) 56th, Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Quebecor/Stingray) 57th, Dana Gilligan (Next Wave) 65th, Sidney McGill (Focus CX Canada) 66th, Kelly Lawson (Hardwood Next Wave Cycling Team) 74th and Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever p/b Specialized) was a DNF.
Honsinger finished second in the U23 Women’s race with her strong ride.
Full results are below from Hoogerheide, as well as the 2018/2019 Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup final overall standings.
Elite Women Results: 2019 World Cup Hoogerheide
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|21||28||ALVARADO||Ceylin del Carmen||NED||0:45:40|
|31||31||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:46:47|