Van Passen took the win at Zonhoven.

Van Paassen took the win at Zonhoven. © Bart Hazen

While it may have been dismal racing conditions in the US this weekend, it was sunny in Belgium at Superprestige Zonhoven. Dutch racer Sanne van Paassen handily won the sandy race, with UK racer Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) taking second and Sabrine Stultiens (Brainwash) taking third. Nikki was recently profiled in Cyclocross Magazine’s Issue 13. With racers like Katie Compton (who took both days of the Boulder Cup race), Marianne Vos, Helen Wyman and many others noticeably absent, Zonhoven was a proving ground for some of the lesser-known riders, offering them a chance to make their marks on the international cyclocross scene.

The Women’s race set the tune for the Men’s race to follow. The 23 year old van Passen (Brainwash) made her way alone after just two rides through Zonhoven’s quarry. She quickly built a lead of 15 seconds. On her third lap van Passen conspired to throw herself into the course’s sandy drop, but the accompanying push forward by the aggressive Nikki Harris (Telent-Fidea) could only cut the gap to seven seconds, and was marked by Van Passen’s teammate Stultiens. By this point Harris’s skinsuit already bore the marks of an earlier crash.

Harris managed to dig three seconds out of Stultiens to win second place.

A chase group of eight riders that included American Amy Dombroski (Crank Bros) gradually wore itself down to Sanne Cant (Boxx), Linda van Reijen (Skil) and Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea). Dombroski was dropped after an inopportune bike change, holding on to finish in eight, half a minute down on Britain’s Gabriella Day (Renner Custom Cyclocross Team).

Amy Dombroski was the highest finishing American woman racer, coming in ninth place. Despite a good result, she felt that it could have gone better, saying, “The last lap I reeled my head back on and finished the race strong but never regained my spot in that front group, finishing frustrated in ninth. On the final lap of my race I had found and was able to ride those lines; a little more time studying the course and I think my race would have unfolded differently.” She also mentioned that the women’s race was a solid four hours before the men’s race: while UCI C1 races are now required to have a women’s race, clearly they haven’t all gotten to the point where the women’s field is treated the same as the men’s field.

Check back for full results.

To see the men’s report and see how winner Niels Albert’s race went, check our coverage here.