by Kyle Moore
Sanne Cant (IKO-Beobank), the reigning World Champion, came to Hoogerheide looking to make a statement before next weekend’s World Championships. Cant had a rough go of it last week in Nommay and wanted to remind the world that she will be the one defending the rainbow stripes next week.
Cant was victorious in a duel with Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team), who took the lead early and pulled Cant with her. The technical Hoogerheide course, with its numerous lines to pick and with two separate difficult off-camber descents, rewarded the cleanest riders of the day.
The first of two difficult downhills took out Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-Sram Racing) and Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing Team), who were both fighting for a podium spot. At the time of their crash, Ferrand-Prevot and Neff were in a battle with Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) for third place, and with their exit on the fourth of six laps, the battle turned into a three-woman race.
Cant used several searing accelerations on the fateful fourth lap to stamp out her race-winning gap. Lechner held off Richards for second.
“I’m happy I could win in what could maybe be my last race in this jersey,” Cant said afterward in her world champ’s stripes. “I had a good feeling in the race, and I’m happy with the result. My first two laps were difficult. I couldn’t do a lot of training this week, but I’m happy that I felt better in the last laps.”
Finding Lines in the Opening Laps
Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites), the winner in the World Cup round in Nommay a week ago, appeared to miss her pedal on the start and was overtaken quickly by the first two lines. A stack-up on the first right-hander, that took riders up a ramp, forced the back two-thirds of the field to dismount. Lechner grabbed control over the top of the ramp, and she pulled Cant and Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea Lions) with her through a series of 180-degree turns and over two wood barriers.
The Hoogerheide course featured a number of wider sections of the course, and as riders picked their way through the opening lap, Lechner was using the outside line, while Cant and Van Loy were dabbing a foot around curves on the inside.
Coming off a long run-up of stairs, Lechner and Cant picked their way down the off-camber over the top. Van Loy crashed hard on her right shoulder and had to bang her handlebars back into place, costing her the spot in third place and ruining her chances at the lead. Over the line to complete the first lap, it was Lechner and Cant from Neff, Loes Sels (Crelan-Charles), and Nikki Brammeier (Mudiiita), with the trio five seconds behind. Compton was trying to recover from her bad start, still well outside the top ten.
Cant and Lechner had swapped lines at the beginning of lap two, as Cant took a bend rubbing against the outside barrier, while Lechner made up ground on the inside. But both riders rode cleanly, and continued to build upon their lead. Lechner then got bogged down in the 180-degree turns, but she had caught up by the wood barriers.
Richards, the Namur World Cup winner, passed Sels and teamed up with Neff, who was lurking dangerously and moving up. Richards was on the move even sooner than she did during her successful late run to the Namur title.
Lechner was back into the lead after the long run up the stairs. The Italian was obviously quite comfortable with the off-camber descent, and for the second consecutive lap, she gapped Cant on the section.
With two laps complete, Lechner and Cant were back together, with seven seconds in hand on Richards and Neff. Though a long downhill section that Richards and Neff blasted through, the chasing duo were nearly up to the two at the front. Both Lechner and Cant worked though outside lines on the winding Hoogerheide course as they tried to hold off Richards, who was towing Neff.
Lechner rode into the off-camber coming off the stairs with plenty of confidence, but she slid out her back wheel on her third time through, and she didn’t get the gap on Cant that she had previously. At the end of the third lap, she and Cant had drawn the gap back out to ten seconds on Richards and Neff. Ferrand-Prevot rode fifth, and had put in much hard work of her own to nearly make it up to Richards and Neff.
An Ugly Crash Mars Cant’s Masterful Performance
Grinding up a U-shaped turn, Ferrand-Prevot had soon nestled into the spot just behind Neff and Richards, with five more seconds back to a large group fighting for seventh place, a group that Compton had infiltrated. Up front, the dismount over the wood barriers proved an opportunity for Cant. She accelerated away from Lechner on the remount and took two more seconds on the off-camber downhill into a sandy hard right-hand turn.
Seconds later, Richards had third place to herself. She descended the inside portion of the same hill, with Neff and Ferrand-Prevot shoulder-to-shoulder just behind. But the two lines came together on the downhill, as Ferrand-Prevot fought the off-camber unsuccessfully, and both riders bounced off each other and went down hard. Both riders appeared to sustain shoulder injuries and were out for the race.
NASTY crash for PFP and Neff. Hoping for a quick recovery for both. #Hoogerheide pic.twitter.com/kt76VA53yr
— Brad W. (@braddwalker) January 28, 2018
Lap five was the penultimate lap, and with the exit of Neff and Ferrand-Prevot, Compton took over fourth place, albeit at the front of a large chasing group that was more than half a minute behind Cant in the lead. Cant had pulled out a ten-second lead on Lechner, with Richards just six ticks back of the Italian, chasing second place.
Lechner managed to hold on as she took the bell, just 13 seconds after Cant. Richards had faded to 21 seconds behind the World Champ. The notable absence from the chasing group was Compton, who had exited the group and finished the race outside the top 20.
But as is often the case when the World Champion takes off, she did not make a mistake, and she was not ridden back. The Belgian rode cleanly through the final lap. Lechner picked her way to the finish while Richards was barreling through, but each rider had found her most effective style. Richards nearly closed the gap to second place, but a slide-out on the off-camber section over the stairs relegated her to third place officially.
As if she wasn’t already, Cant took the status as number one favorite for the World Championships, along with the Hoogerheide title and the World Cup overall.
Lechner and Richards rounded out the podium, and Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling) outsprinted Kaitie Keough (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) for fourth.
Keough’s top five helped her wrap up second overall in the World Cup series. Compton came in with an outside shot at third, but her 22nd-place finish, her latest rough go at Hoogerheide, cost her that opportunity.
Maghalie Rochette (Clif Pro Team) finished 13th, Cristel Ferrier-Bruneau (SAS Macogep Aquisio) 18th, Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes) 21st, Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles p/b DNA Cycling) 25th, Emma White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) 31st, Rebecca Fahringer (Stan’s NoTubes p/b Maxxis/gofahr) 33rd, Magdeleine Valleries Mill (Club Cycliste de Sherbrooke) 37th, Mical Dyck (Naked Factory Racing) 42nd, Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX) 43rd, Ruby West (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) 47th, Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) 53rd, Siobhan Kelly (To Wheels Epic Sports Performance) 55th and Stacey Riedel (Port Adelaide CC) 56th.
Full results are below.
Good news for Ferrand-Prevot was reported after the race.
Good news concerning Pauline Ferrand Prevot: Direct Velo reports no fractures following the crash earlier today. 👍 https://t.co/Xx9YzfIalN
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) January 28, 2018
Compton dropped back in the last lap due to breathing issues.
Funk race day in Hoogerheide. Slipped pedal, caught up in the stop on the ramp caused by someone not patient, flat rear tire after pit two. Back up to 4th from the back of the field then a breathing issue derailed the last lap of the race. Tough day for Katie. Eyes forward 👊
— Mark Legg (@MrKatieCompton) January 28, 2018
Women's Results: 2018 Hoogerheide World Cup
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Result|
|9||42||DEL CARMEN ALVARADO||Ceylin||NED||0:48:39|
|12||45||VAN DER HEIJDEN||Inge||NED||0:48:59|
|17||7||VAN DE STEENE||Kim||BEL||0:49:23|