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Katie Compton wins 2011 Vlaamse Druivencross

2011 Vlaamse Druivencross, Katie Compton
Compton takes another European victory in Overijse. Photo: Dan Seaton

OVERIJSE, Belgium (VN) — Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) won her second race of the weekend on Sunday, taking a muddy Vlaamse Druivencross in Overijse.

The U.S. champion bested runner-up Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Boxx) on the 2.7km rollercoaster course.

Compton emerged at the front of the race almost immediately, with the Briton Harris clinging tenaciously to her wheel. But the American was able to gain distance with neat handling on a series of very technical descents that were made harder by the first appearance of real mud in Belgium in months. From there she never looked back, powering to a gap of more than half a minute.

Behind the two leaders Cant was desperately trying to gain ground, but could make little progress. Trailing Harris by more than half a minute by the end of the race, Cant was battling the course and conditions as much as anything else.

But that was the story of the day as the relentless up and downs blew apart the relatively small field; only two pairs of women finished within 10 seconds of each other.

2011 Vlaamse Druivencross, Dombroski and Vanderbeken
Amy Dombroski follows Joyce Vanderbeken to the top of the course. Photo: Dan Seaton

Two who were relatively close were Americans Amy Dombroski (Crank Brothers) and Christine Vardaros (Baboco), who took 10th and 11th.

“It was only the second mud race we’ve had (this season). And there was a lot of up and down. You get a huge amount of elevation change in such a short time,” Vardaros told VeloNews, adding that she benefited from a recent training trip to Spain and enormous support from a near-hometown crowd — Vardaros’ home is just a few kilometers from the hills of Overijse.

Dombroski finished her day looking a bit dazed after a heavy midrace fall. The American was clearly determined to finish after a bad fall took her out of Saturday’s Scheldecross in Antwerp.

Compton, despite the decisive win, joined the chorus in talking about just how difficult the race was.

“It was really hard,” she said. “You’re going either up or down, it’s hard technically, and the uphills are all pretty steep — and of course they’re also really slippery.”

2011 Vlaamse Druivencross, Christine Vardaros
Christine Vardaros grits her teeth on the difficult climb. Photo: Dan Seaton

The American was buoyed by her second win in as many days after a disappointing third-place finish two weekends ago in Koksijde.

“I felt better for sure,” she said. “I’m getting some good training in, and I feel good. These are classic courses, and there are no technical races like this in the U.S. Scheldecross yesterday was really hard, today was hard, and American races just don’t have terrain like that.”

For fans of the dramatic European courses there is more in store in the coming weeks, with a similar hilly, technical World Cup race in Namur next weekend and a densely packed holiday season schedule that boasts six racing opportunities in eight days close behind.

Quick results

  • 1. Katie Compton (USA), 37:37
  • 2. Nikki Harris (GBr), 0:28
  • 3. Sanne Cant (Bel), 1:15
  • 4. Sophie de Boer (Ned), 2:03
  • 5. Linda van Rijen (Ned), 2:24

Complete results

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