This morning was the fifth round of the World Cup in Zolder. It was unseasonably warm for Christmas week, nearly 60 degrees, and the course was primarily dry with just a few damp spots.
As the sun shone down, 66 riders lined the start. Only two women have ever won this race, Marianne Vos, who is out this season, and Katie Compton, who was on the start and has been showing great form as of late.
The race action got under way immediately—with a false start. The start lights on each side of the line were not synchronized, as the light to the riders’ right stayed red while the other across the track turned green. Re-staged and ready to go, it was the official’s whistle that then sent the field charging down the long, paved starting straight.
Right to the front was last week’s protagonist Eva Lechner with Ellen van Loy on her wheel and Pavla Havlikova close by, leading the intact field. The Zolder course’s long straights meant that the fairly large leading group stayed mostly together for quite some time. The track certainly is a power course with big straights and sharp climbs as well as a run up that in the past was a stairset, but was changed in favor of natural, sandy terrain. Add to that the dry and fast conditions, including a new loop in a wooded section, and it was one for those who can turn the throttle.
After the initial sorting out, there were four on the front, van Loy, Sanne Cant, back after last Saturday’s win and last Sunday’s disappointing ride, Lechner and Sabrina Stultiens, who had five seconds on the next group lead by Katie Compton.
But Compton wasted little time chasing and once she bridged, she immediately slotted into second then quickly began dictating affairs at the front. The move strung out the chase Compton was part of, and the effort put many in difficultly, including Lechner who went foot out as she tried the high line through an uphill left hander that leads to a long off-camber stretch.
Like Kaitlin Antonneau did early in the race, Lechner, who was still chasing hard, had her front wheel auger in on a short, rutted drop in and went over the bars, dirtying her World Cup leader’s kit, which she was in danger of losing with Cant duking it out with Compton and van Loy up front.
The leading trio was really a race of two powerhouse women as Cant and Compton tested each other at every turn. Compton would make a move and Cant would counter and then they’d trade again. Van Loy seemed unable to make her own move against the two.
At two to go it was Cant and Compton. Compton had briefly been gapped but got back on Cant over the paved finishing section, but the two were back together battling for the win as van Loy was clearly off the pace by this point. But just one lap later, van Loy closed it to nine seconds—although that seemed mostly due to the fact that the penultimate lap had been the slowest put in by Compton and Cant.
While van Loy was seemingly back in with half a lap to go, it was then when Cant really went for it, making it official on the sandy climb after the run up. There as nothing left the riders behind could do but watch her take the victory.
Cant went in ahead of Compton and van Loy. Thalita de Jong had a solid performance putting her road fitness to work and nearly pulled off the final podium spot.
For the Americans, aside from Compton’s second place finish, Kaitlin Antonneau was 18th, Meredith Miller was 25th, Amanda Miller led in a group in 27th, with Courtenay McFadden and Emma White finishing 28th and 29th, respectively, while Ellen Noble was 31st and Crystal Anthony was 36th. Canadian Mical DYCK was 31st while Anna Schappert was 56th.
Other notable finishes were Nikki Harris who took her first World Cup win at Namur last week, in 10th, Helen Wyman in 12th and Amira Mellor in 49th for Great Britain and Lisa Jacobs in 30th and Natalie Redmond in 62nd Australia.
With her win, Cant took over the World Cup leader’s jersey from Lechner, with Compton moving into third place.
2015 World Cup Zolder, Elite Women's Full Results
|3||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||35||45:26|
|4||Thalita DE JONG||NED||22||45:29|
|9||Sophie DE BOER||NED||25||45:57|
|11||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||27||46:12|
|21||Alice Maria ARZUFFI||ITA||21||47:31|
|22||Femke VAN DEN DRIESSCHE||BEL||19||47:38|
|23||Lucia GONZALEZ BLANCO||ESP||25||47:42|
|24||Aida NUNO PALACIO||ESP||32||47:54|
|38||Alicia GONZALEZ BLANCO||ESP||20||49:10|
|40||Bianca VAN DEN HOEK||NED||39||49:12|
|44||Asa Maria ERLANDSSON||SWE||41||49:33|
|50||Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG||DEN||27||50:45|
|55||Irene TRABAZO BRAGADO||ESP||17||52:01|
|58||Edie Antonia REES||LUX||17||52:58|