Posted by Editoress on 01/29/22
Marianne Vos (Netherlands) won an incredible eighth Elite women's Cyclo-cross world title on Saturday, beating countrywoman, and defending champion, Lucinda Brand, in a two-up sprint. Silvia Persico of Italy spoiled a Dutch sweep of the top five spots by taking the bronze medal a day after participating in the Team Relay on the winning squad. Canada's Maghalie Rochette finished seventh, the top North American rider and her second-best result ever at the world championships.
Marianne Vos winning her eighth Elite women's Cyclo-cross world title on Saturday
It was an almost foregone conclusion that the race would be won by a Dutch woman, but the country has such an embarrassment of riches in this category, that it was hard to pick a favourite. Indeed, they ended up taking five of the six top spots.
The country did not disappoint, with five members of the orange squad riding off the front on the first lap, and then three gapping the rest of the field the first time up the main climb - Vos, Brand and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. The three rode together - with Brand doing most of the pacesetting - until Brand sprinted up the long stair climb and only Vos was able to follow. Alvarado held third for most of the race until Persico bridged up in the second last lap, and the Italian took the final medal spot on the final lap when Alvarado crashed in a corner. The two leaders took turns trying small attacks in the final lap and a half, but neither had enough left for a sustained effort, so it came down to a sprint. Brand led out, but Vos jumped straight around her to take the title.
Vos won her first Elite 'cross title in 2006 and her seventh in 2014, so it has been a long time coming for this one. "It's incredible. Leading into the race you don't look back that much, just try to focus on the race itself. It's been many years in between [titles], but I didn't change anything, just kept on doing what I had been doing. It was such a difficult race; I knew Lucinda was going to be very, very hard to beat. She put on some pressure and then I tried some pressure, but it was so difficult to get away. So I knew I had to focus on the sprint."
Rochette didn't have a particularly strong start, in the mid-teens, but started to move up through the first lap and was up to fifth on Lap 2, part of the chase group. Ruby West, competing at her first Elite Worlds had a strong start, moving up to the top-15, but it may have been too much of an effort, as she then started to slide back, eventually finishing 23rd, one spot ahead of Sidney McGill. Siobhan Kelly was 29th.
On Lap 3, the chase group with Rochette split, and she was in the back half with former world champion Sanne Cant (Belgium) and Inge van der Heijden (Netherlands). The trio rode together, chasing two Dutch riders in fifth and sixth for the next few laps, until first van der Heijden and then Cant fell off Rochette's pace. Rochette got to within 15 seconds of fifth/sixth place at one point, but couldn't manage to close the gap.
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