NAMUR, BELGIUM – On a wet, slippery course, Katie Compton (Trek) rode a perfect race, establishing a gap on the first lap and never relinquishing it.

Katie Compton was overjoyed with her win today © Bart Hazen

Katie Compton was overjoyed with her win today © Bart Hazen

Katerina Nash (Luna) proved she is back on top after her early-season back problems and rode a commanding race, never losing sight of Compton and powering her way to second. Marianne Vos (Rabobank), in her first race back to the World Cup circuit, found that her ’cross legs still need some practice as she took a spectacular, head-over-tails tumble on the first of the steep, slippery descents. As Vos then pushed to regain contact with the leaders, she again fell, this time on the long, tricky off-camber that is a defining feature of the Namur course. Vos spent the next two laps catching and overtaking Lucie Chainel-Lefevre, Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea), Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank) and Helen Wyman (Kona), but Nash and Compton were not only too far ahead, but were clocking faster lap times than the world champion, as well. Vos crossed the line in third, behind Nash and an excited, grin-happy Katie Compton. American Meredith Miller had a fantastic race, finishing in 11th – one position shy of automatic qualification for Worlds selection.

As it happened:

At the gun, Sanne van Paassen shot ahead of the rest to take the early lead, with Marianne Vos on her heels, followed by Compton and Nash. On the climb to the citadel, Vos took over, but van Paassen quickly came around again. A bobble on the sharp, steep 180, however, cost van Paassen the lead, which she would never reclaim. Sanne Cant, as well, stumbled here, and fell off the lead pace.

It was on the first of the many steep, muddy descents, however, that the race was truly decided. A group of roughly seven leaders – Compton, Nash, Wyman, Vos, Harris, Chainel-Lefevre, and van Paassen – came to the hill together. Most rode the descent cleanly, but Vos lost control and flipped headfirst over her bike, tumbling partway down the hill. The crash cost her a dozen positions right at the moment that Compton found nothing but daylight ahead of her, and opened up the throttle.

As Compton stormed away, the remaining women gave chase, some running, some riding the aggressive descents, as Vos began making her way back to them. On the long, slippery off-camber, however, the world champion again went down as she tried to ride the outside line, first sliding across the course and then falling to the ground.

Meanwhile, a small bobble by Compton gave Nash just enough room to jump on her wheel, with  Wyman, Chainel-Lefevre, and Sanne van Paassen close behind. Compton, however, again upped the pace, and soon Nash slipped off the lead, the only woman still in view. Vos chased hard behind, over 30 seconds in arrears.

As Compton continued to build her lead, Nash showed impressive tenacity, holding the gap close at eight seconds, and at times looking to bridge back to the US champion. The true race, however, was happening behind, as Vos first clawed her way to Sanne Cant, then Chainel-Lefevre. Would the world champion have enough to get back to Compton?

For a moment, it appeared possible, as Vos continued to eat up the racers ahead of her, bridging to the trio of Wyman, van Paassen, and Nikki Harris. By the time they came around with two laps to go, Vos moved around the other chasers and took off in pursuit of Nash. It was an impressive display by the world champion, but it would not be enough – lap times showed that Vos was riding roughly ten seconds slower than Compton.

Compton continued to ride a clean race, with Nash staying stubbornly close – in fact, on the penultimate lap Nash rode the off-camber so well that she all but bridged the gap to Compton. Compton, however, had no intention of sprinting it out for the win and stomped on the gas as they climbed the backside of the course, re-opening the gap to Nash.

And so it ended: Compton, smiling and clearly happy with her race, had enough distance to enjoy her win; Nash, happy to be back among the best, enjoyed her second place; and Vos held off a late charge by Wyman to take third.

Bart Hazen Photo Gallery:

Full Results:

2012 World Cup Namur - Women

1Katherine COMPTONUSA38:09:00
2Katerina NASHCZE38:37:00
3Marianne VOSNED38:59:00
4Helen WYMANGBR39:04:00
5Nikki HARRISGBR39:33:00
6Sanne VAN PAASSENNED40:00:00
8Eva LECHNERITA40:50:00
9Sanne CANTBEL40:55:00
10Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAUFRA40:57:00
11Meredith MILLERUSA41:32:00
12Jasmin ACHERMANNSUI41:45:00
13Ellen VAN LOYBEL42:00:00
14Amy DOMBROSKIUSA42:08:00
15Julie KRASNIAKFRA42:14:00
16Pavla HAVLIKOVACZE42:20:00
17Annefleur KALVENHAARNED42:39:00
18Nicole DUKEUSA42:39:00
19Crystal ANTHONYUSA42:56:00
20Sabrina SCHWEIZERGER42:59:00
21Gabriella DAYGBR43:02:00
22Sabrina STULTIENSNED43:29:00
23Kaitlin ANTONNEAUUSA43:32:00
24Maureen BRUNO ROYUSA43:37:00
25Arenda GRIMBERGNED43:52:00
26Githa MICHIELSBEL43:54:00
27Reza HORMESNED44:31:00
28Asa Maria ERLANDSSONSWE44:50:00
29Ayako TOYOOKAJPN45:03:00
30Andrea SMITHUSA45:08:00
31Joyce VANDERBEKENBEL45:21:00
32Caroline MANIFRA45:43:00
33Genevieve WHITSONNZL45:54:00
34Marlene PETITFRA46:08:00
35Elisabeth BRANDAUGER46:22:00
36Lise-Marie HENZELINSUI46:25:00
37Nancy BOBERBEL46:57:00
38Hilde QUINTENSBEL47:03:00
39Eva COLINFRA47:13:00