by Chris Bagg
NAMUR, BELGIUM — Marianne Vos rode away from the field today in Namur, Belgium, looking unstoppable in her campaign for a fifth cyclocross World Championship. Yesterday’s GvA Trophy race in Essen brought the first true cyclocross conditions, seeing riders completely covered in mud by the end of the race. Today’s World Cup in Namur upped the ante, bringing snow, freezing conditions, and plenty of mud. The riding was slow, technical, and hard. By the close of the first lap, Marianne Vos and Lucie Chainel-Lefevre found some room at the front, establishing a gap of about 20 seconds over a large chasing group that included Katie Compton (Rabobank), who had several technical issues during the first lap, dropping her chain during the starting climb, a mishap that appeared to cost her a chance at riding with Vos in the early going.
The Namur course featured major changes in altitude, which proved all the more treacherous as they were covered in snow and ice. Vos looked unbeatable early, riding away from Chainel-Lefevre. Compton and Helen Wyman (Kona) worked behind in third and fourth, the American taking a bike twice early in the race. The course’s most difficult feature was a long muddy off-camber that Vos rode half of and was forced to run the rest of. Compton tried twice in the first laps to ride the whole pitch and twice went into the course tape, standing up frustrated.
The rest of the race, meanwhile, was on its way back to the chasers, with Sanne Cant (BOXX), Sophie de Boer (Telenet-Fidea), and Daphny Van Den Brand (AA Drink) leading a larger group up to Helen Wyman and Compton. Vos still had 20 seconds over Chainel, who in turn kept a gap of 25 seconds over the American and British riders. By that third lap, Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) had moved into the top 10, the tiny rider climbing up through the ranks for one of her strongest rides to date.
Vos displayed her bike handling abilities over the nasty off-camber on the third lap, but Compton, behind, finally figured the stretch out and dropped Wyman, who had been joined by de Boer and Cant. The Rabobank rider appeared to be reeling in Chainel, who was putting together a deliberate but safe ride. By the time Compton crossed the line for the bell, she was 1:10 down on Vos but only 27 seconds behind the French rider. Wyman followed, then de Boer and Cant. Eva Lechner and Van Den Brand were next.
On the last lap, Vos powered away from the field, compounding her already large lead, displaying excellent form. She was making it look easy, riding the huge drops and dangerous off-cambers with ease. Sanne Cant made a move during the last lap to pass Wyman, while Vos took a clean bike for her trip over the line for victory. The world champion displayed the rainbow colors proudly, and was followed over the line by Lefevre, who had put together the best World Cup result of her career. Compton completed the podium, looking visibly frustrated as she came across the line. Sanne Cant was fourth, with Wyman fifth. Eva Lechner held on to sixth, Sophie de Boer seventh, with the World Cup leader Van Den Brand in eighth. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took ninth, and Kaitlin Antonneau moved into the top ten.
Caroline Mani, who raced the first half of the season on US shores, finished just outside of the top ten, in 11th, with Jasmine Achermann, the Swiss champion, taking 12th.
Results follow gallery.
|7||Sophie DE BOER||NED|
|8||Daphny VAN DEN BRAND||NED|
|9||Pauline FERRAND PREVOT||FRA|
|13||Linda VAN RIJEN||NED|
|20||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL|
|22||Asa Maria ERLANDSSON||SWE|
|24||Maureen BRUNO ROY||USA|
|29||Tessa VAN NIEUWPOORT||NED|
|31||Kim VAN DE STEENE||BEL|
|32||Alice Maria ARZUFFI||ITA|
|34||Nicole DE BIE - LEYTEN||BEL|
|40||Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG||DEN|