If you go into the last lap in a race with Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon), you better have a really good plan of how you are going to beat her. Why? Because you know her Plan A is going to be really tough to beat.
Race after race this year, Cant has sized up her competition early before picking her spot to make a move in the last lap or two. Last weekend at Scheldecross she got the best of Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites), the weekend before, Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) at Essen. Flandriencross, Zeven, the list goes on.
On Tuesday at World Cup Zolder, Cant again got the opportunity to make her move late in the race. There was no super-group heading into the last lap as there was in 2016, but on the fast, tacky course, it took over half the race for a lead selection of Cant, Compton and Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) to establish a tenuous lead at the bell.
Throughout the race, Cant showed her strength in the series of ups and downs at the end of the lap. While many riders dismounted, or worse, tried to ride and failed, Cant was in control getting up the steep inclines. If you were a betting person, that spot on the course would be the odds-on favorite to be her spot come crunch time.
Cant did not fail to deliver. After Compton and Lechner did the work to keep a star-studded chase at bay, Cant took the lead before the technical section. Compton tried to respond and make up the gap with her famed descending skills, but it would not be enough. Cant held her gap through the ups and downs and came onto the finishing power section with too much room for Compton to overcome.
Cant picked her spot and hit the jackpot yet again. The win was a special one for her. Number 100 of her career.
Vroom Vroom at Circuit Zolder
With World Cup Zolder held on the grounds of the Circuit Zolder racetrack, it is only fitting that Tuesday’s Women’s race started fast. The course was relatively dry and tacky, so the racing started fast and stayed that way.
Last week, Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling) was suffering from a tough illness, but early on, at least, she looked like she had put the illness behind her. Cant took the holeshot, but Vos slotted in right behind her in the large group of women at the front of the race. The lead changed hands several times during the first lap. With one lap down, the lead selection was Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb), Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions), Vos, Cant, Lechner and Brammeier.
It would not be a World Cup Zolder race report without a Boxing Day reference, so sure, Brand threw the first big punch of the afternoon. She attacked early in the second lap and opened up an eight-second lead on the field at the high-low off-camber section. Cant chased her down and after Brand slipped at one of the ups, her attack had been neutralized. The lead group was four again, and Compton was slowly but surely making her way into the fifth position after surviving the fast first lap and her second-row call-up position.
Sorting Things Out
Compton made the catch early in the third of five laps, and Brammeier and Vos attached to the back of the train as well. Vos may have still been feeling the effects of illness because she stayed at the back of the train while Compton moved up spot by spot. Lechner led the way into the technical section at the end of the lap, but when she bobbled and ran one of the steep ups, Cant pounced on the opportunity and opened up a lead. Compton moved into second.
There is no question Cant made note of the space she could get and her rivals’ struggles in the section. For the moment, she had a small lead while the chase group started to break up a bit. The ups and downs were helping sort things out.
Inside two to go, Compton took up the task of chasing Cant down. It took a while, but she finally dragged the World Champion back at the famed section through the trees. Compton pulled through, but Cant again took the lead shortly before the technical section. She attacked at the steep incline after the stairs again. Compton consistently ran the feature, so she lost maybe a second while Lechner tried to ride, but dismounted halfway up.
In the tough technical section that required frequent bursts of power, even Cant could not stay perfect. She had to dismount on one of the subsequent rises, which allowed Lechner to reattach to the group.
Behind the leaders, Van Loy and Brand got caught up in the technical section, allowing the lead three to extend their advantage. Heading into the last lap, Cant, Compton and Lechner had 12 seconds on Van Loy, Brand, Vos and Laura Verdonschot (Marlux-Napoleon Games).
Another Exciting Laatste Ronde
Although 12 seconds is a sizable gap, with the fast course and the amount of firepower in the chase group, the lead trio had little time to play games with each other. Compton took up duties leading the way early in the last lap while Brand powered to the front of the chase. Lechner took the lead spot after a downhill off-camber, but then in the power straight motioned for one of the other two riders to pull around. Compton again moved to the front to chip her power into the group effort.
Not surprisingly, Cant finally took her turn on the front when it came time for the technical ups and downs at the end of the lap. She took the lead before the high-low off-camber and kept her advantage by going high while Compton went low.
Cant continued to press her advantage in the ups and downs by exploding up the steep rises. She had to run the last one, but it did not matter because she already had a few seconds on Compton, who was, in turn, making Lechner work to keep her wheel.
Cant had enough of a lead at the last power straights to prevent Compton’s last burst of power from closing the gap. The win was her fourth World Cup victory in seven tries this year. More importantly, it was the 100th of her career.
Compton finished second to get back on the World Cup podium after taking fourth in Namur and Lechner followed up her third at Namur with another bronze in Zolder.
The race was well-attended by North American riders. Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) finished 16th, Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (SAS Macogep Aquisio) 17th, Emma White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) 18th, Maghalie Rochette (Clif Pro Team) 26th, Rebecca Fahringer (Stan’s NoTubes p/b Maxxis/gofahr) 31st, Elle Anderson (Cycling.be – Alphamotorhomes Ladies) 32nd, Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Racing) 34th, Caroline Mani (Van Dessel / Atom Composites) 35th, Jennifer Malik (American Classic) 50th, Magdeleine Vallieries Mill 51st, Corey Coogan Cisek (The Fix Studio) 58th, Helena Coney 59th and Siobhan Kelly 60th.
With Keough finishing 16th, Cant got a healthy addition to her World Cup series lead. She now has 489 points to Keough’s 376. Lechner’s recent podiums have propelled her into third, and she now sits just 18 points behind Keough.
Women's Results: 2017 World Cup Zolder
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|15||41||DEL CARMEN ALVARADO||Ceylin||NED||0:43:56|
|20||8||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL||0:44:33|
|22||43||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:44:52|