Posted by Editoress on 01/29/06
UCI CycloCross World Championships Zeddam, Netherlands
For the second time in 24 hours the Dutch national anthem of Wilhelmus played at the Cyclo-cross World Championships, when Marianne Vos (Ned) outsprinted defending champion Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger). Dutch riders also took third and fourth with Daphny van den Brand and Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel. The top North American result was recorded by U.S. champion Anne Knapp in 9th, while pre-race podium hopeful Lyne Bessette (Can) could managed no better than 10th after coming down with a cold earlier in the week.
The race was whittled down to three riders immediately - Vos, Kupfernagel and van den Brand. The trio had a 10 second gap on Melcher-van Poppel halfway through the first lap, with Helen Wyman (GBr) 20 seconds back in fifth, and Bessette struggling mid-pack. Bessette improved to sixth by mid-race, but then slowed in the final laps.
It looked like the race might come down to a three-way sprint, until van den Brand flatted in the fourth lap and lost contact wih the other two. At that point, the workload shifted to Kupfernagel.
Vos admitted that she got a free ride from her German rival: "At the beginning there was no real tactic except to start fast, and we were happy to have two Dutch and one German at the front. When Daphny flatted all I had to do was stay on Kupfernagel's wheel - either Daphny would come back or she would have to pull me."
Kupfernagel realized this, but figured the odds were better. "When van den Brand punctured it was normal that I would have to go to the front, but I believed that it was better for me to be against one Dutch rider instead of two."
Vos may have hoped that her team mate would come back, but van den Brand knew that she wasn't going to. "I had to ride with it (puncture) to the pit, and after that I didn't think it was possible to come back. I would have had to take too many risks, so I focussed on keeping third place."
Coming out of the final corner for the long, paved false flat straightaway to the finish, Vos was glued to Kupfernagel's wheel, until she cut across to the left side of the road with 150 metres to go. Kupfernagel was able to get on her wheel, but couldn't come round.
- Bessette was disappointed but philosophical. "I got a cold on Wednesday; I couldn't breath during the race. I was prepared, the speed was what I thought it would be. I was ready. I'm happy with my race under the conditions, but I know I'm better than that (10th)."
- Vos has literally just joined the Senior ranks, after winning a world title on the road in 2004 and finishing second at the Road worlds as a Junior in 2005. She currently races, road, track, cyclo-cross, mountain bike and speedskates (in her spare time).
- The spectators are arriving in droves - well over 20,000 for the women's race.
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