Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) took her first world cyclo-cross title after a dramatic finale in Ostend.
The 31-year-old went shoulder to shoulder with Annemarie Worst in the final corners before her fellow countrywoman’s crash gave her a winning advantage. A race-long battle saw Worst denied by just eight seconds, while Denise Betsema took third to complete an all-Dutch podium.
Defending champion Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado saw her Dutch teammates ride away after she suffered a crash on the opening corner, but she eventually finishing sixth, while Clara Honsinger (USA) performed strongly to take fourth place.
Saturday’s triumph in Ostend was Brand’s first cyclo-cross world title after three podium finishes in the last three years.
“For so many years I’ve been so close. Finally, after such a great season, to finish it off like this is really cool,” said Brand.
Worst crashed on the final lap after she and Brand couldn’t avoid coming into contact on a sharp turn.
“We crashed into each other and I just touched her elbow or something,” said Brand. “Of course, it was the weakest point to touch her, which is why she crashed. It was not really nice, but it was also not easy to avoid a situation like this.”
How it unfolded
Alvarado had the worst possible start, going down while leading into the opening corner as the course changed from loose asphalt to slippery grass. Home favourite Sanne Cant (Belgium) also came down in the incident.
As the riders dropped from the steep ramp into the sand, Denise Betsema (Netherlands) was able to ride the opening section and she pulled out an advantage of 12 seconds as gaps began to form behind.
Betsema Dutch teammates – and last season’s silver and bronze medallists – Worst and Brand soon went in pursuit of the lone leader.
Meanwhile, Alvarado looked to regain lost ground, but she still sat some 27 seconds behind fast starter Betsema after the opening lap as part of a group that included Evie Richards (Great Britain) and Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands).
With three laps remaining, Betsema had a lead of 11 seconds over Brand and Worst, while Alvarado was part of a chasing pack that was now 41 seconds back from the leader.
The two chasers were closing on the lone leader, but as Brand powered through the sand back to Betsema, her companion Worst faltered and lost time due to a fall.
Worst was pushing her limits on the beach section and closed back to the leaders to make a leading trio, while Brand shielded Betsema from a tough wind off the North Sea.
Worst had another stumble when she slid out on a slippery corner, but she was back with the leaders at the bell, while Alvarado was now chasing alone, 35 seconds back. Just behind her, however, the impressive Clara Honsinger was closing in.
In the sand section on the final lap, Betsema finally tired and watched her world title hopes fade. Brand then used her running speed to pull out a gap, but Worst was able to respond thanks to her technical ability as the pair went head-to-head to decide the destination of the rainbow jersey.
Using her power, Brand forced her rival onto the back foot on the 21 per cent ramp but Worst summoned up the strength to hold onto the leader.
As the pair went shoulder to shoulder into the final turns, Worst came down, sliding out and allowing Brand to open a winning gap.
Betsema finished third just 19 seconds back, while Honsinger finished strongly out of the chasing pack to take fourth ahead of Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands), Alvarado and Evie Richards (Great Britain).
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:46:53|
|2||Annemarie Worst (Netherlands)||0:00:08|
|3||Denise Betsema (Netherlands)||0:00:19|
|4||Clara Honsinger (United States Of America)||0:00:52|
|5||Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands)||0:01:04|
|6||Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands)||0:01:12|
|7||Evie Richards (Great Britain)||0:01:13|
|8||Sanne Cant (Belgium)||0:01:43|
|9||Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)||0:02:07|
|10||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||0:02:08|
|11||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:02:18|
|12||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:02:23|
|13||Perrine Clauzel (France)||0:02:26|
|14||Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)||0:03:01|
|15||Anne Tauber (Netherlands)||0:03:38|
|16||Maghalie Rochette (Canada)||0:03:45|
|17||Alicia Franck (Belgium)||0:03:56|
|18||Rebecca Gariboldi (Italy)||0:03:58|
|19||Suzanne Verhoeven (Belgium)|
|20||Aida Nuno Palacio (Spain)||0:04:08|
|21||Katherine Compton (United States Of America)||0:04:13|
|22||Silvia Persico (Italy)||0:04:22|
|23||Rebecca Fahringer (United States Of America)||0:04:27|
|24||Helene Clauzel (France)||0:04:33|
|25||Marlene Petit (France)||0:04:45|
|26||Laura Verdonschot (Belgium)||0:05:01|
|27||Loes Sels (Belgium)||0:05:24|
|28||Lucia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)||0:05:38|
|29||Ellen Van Loy (Belgium)||0:05:56|
|30||Barbara Borowiecka (Poland)||0:06:15|
|31||Sophie De Boer (Netherlands)||0:06:17|
|32||Karen Verhestraeten (Belgium)||0:07:00|
|33||Chiara Teocchi (Italy)||0:07:24|
|34||Zina Barhoumi (Switzerland)||0:07:31|
|35||Kaitlin Keough (United States Of America)||0:08:11|
|36||Zuzanna Krzystala (Poland)||0:08:25|
|37||Nadja Heigl (Austria)|
|38||Sara Cueto Vega (Spain)|
|39||Malgorzata Mazurek (Poland)|
|DNF||Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)|