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Namur: Evie Richards captures first elite World Cup

Former women’s under-23 world champion Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) proved to be the strongest in the cold and mud in Namur, Belgium on Sunday and stood atop the podium for the first time in a UCI Cyclocross World Cup at the elite level. British champion Nikki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) finished second with Italian champion Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) in third.

American Katie Compton (Trek-Panache) crossed the line in fourth.

Top 10

  • 1. Evie Richards (GBR), in 38:49
  • 2. Nikki Brammeier (GBR), at 00:15
  • 3. Eva Lechner (ITA), at 00:24
  • 4. Katherine Compton (USA), at 00:34
  • 5. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA), at 01:06
  • 6. Kaitlin Keough (USA), at 01:08
  • 7. Katerina Nash (CZE), at 01:14
  • 8. Jolanda Neff (SWI), at 01:20
  • 9. Lucinda Brand (NED), at 01:29
  • 10. Alice Maria Arzuffi (ITA), at 01:34

The World Cup course in Namur is one of the most sacred grounds in cyclocross. The list of winners here tells a tale of the champions of the sport. Its steep run-ups and scary descents challenge the riders technically, but also the course is famous for its mud. The mud is thick and terrible in Namur.

Due to the world rankings in cyclocross being based on a rolling calendar format, Compton started on the second row after dropping to 11th in the rankings. The start in Namur is important with a steep narrow climb causing mayhem. The first riders are able to ride the climb, but then a bottleneck occurs which forces most riders off their bikes. Lechner shot off the line and gapped all but one rider on the tough climb. That one rider was Katie Keough (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld). Keough started the day ranked second overall in the World Cup standings behind world champion Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon).

Cant had a bad start in Namur and was riding outside of the top 10 on the opening lap. She would struggle in the race and never contend near the front. She fought throughout the day to try to break the top 10.

Lechner led the riders onto the famous off-camber. The steep, downhill off-camber has caught many riders off-guard over the years. A fall here can see one go sliding down the hill into the fencing. This happened to Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) on the opening lap.

At the end of the opening lap, Brammeier joined Lechner in the lead, and Compton bridged to the duo shortly after they crossed the line. A large chase group with many big names was 18 seconds behind the trio. Present in the group were Cant, Sophie de Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil), current women’s under-23 world champion Annemarie Worst (ERA-Circus), Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea), Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles), Keough and many others. Emma White was also in the group, meaning there were three Americans in the top 10.

Mountain bike world champion Jolanda Neff was also in the chase group and could be seen bunny hopping the barriers throughout the race.

Former cyclocross world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM) moved into the top-10 on the second lap, making up considerable ground after having to deal with a back row start due to her lack of UCI points.

Compton moved into the lead on the second lap, throwing down a hard acceleration. However, Lechner tracked her down and then passed the 13-time U.S. national cyclocross champion. Richards, who had been in the chase group, dropped her companions and set off in pursuit of Brammeier who was in third at the time. Richards crossed the line to complete the second lap and with two laps to go was 16 seconds behind the leader.

Lechner, Compton, and Brammeier all came together on the penultimate lap, but soon the trio would go from fighting for the win to fighting for second. In a matter of a few hundred meters, Richards passed all three riders to move into the lead. She demonstrated exceptional bike handling skills to plummet down the steep descents and then ran strongly on the run-ups. It would be a lead she would not relinquish.

Meanwhile, behind Richards, Brammeier took advantage of Compton pitting to move into second while Lechner had dropped back to fourth. At the end of the third lap, Richards held a 10-second lead over Brammeier with Compton a further 10-seconds behind her. However, Lechner was hot on Compton wheels.

The final lap in Namur saw Richards put on a clinic of how to corner, climb and descend through tricky muddy conditions. She was technically sound, but there was no denying her power. Furthermore, Richards showed she is a complete cyclocross rider, running strongly as well.

Lechner was able to get by Compton to force the American off the podium on the final lap, as Brammeier rode to second to make a Great Britain one-two finish.

Ferrand-Prevot continuously fought and passed riders throughout the entire race to finish fifth. She has not yet said whether or not she will compete at the world championships in Valkenburg at the end of January.

Keough finished sixth on the day. She was able to close the gap to Cant in the overall standings of the World Cup series, as the world champion finished outside the top 10.

The UCI Cyclocross World Cup series continues on December 26 in Zolder, Belgium.

Full results

  • 1. Evie Richards, (GBR), 38:49
  • 2. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 39:04
  • 3. Eva Lechner, (ITA), 39:13
  • 4. Katherine Compton, (USA), 39:23
  • 5. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA), 39:55
  • 6. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 39:57
  • 7. Katerina Nash, (CZE), 40:03
  • 8. Jolanda Neff, (SUI), 40:09
  • 9. Lucinda Brand, (NED), 40:18
  • 10. Alice Maria Arzuffi, (ITA), 40:23
  • 11. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 40:48
  • 12. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 40:53
  • 13. Sophie De Boer, (NED), 40:58
  • 14. Christine Majerus, (LUX), 41:01
  • 15. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 41:07
  • 16. Annemarie Worst, (NED), 41:15
  • 17. Caroline Mani, (FRA), 41:22
  • 18. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 41:27
  • 19. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 41:30
  • 20. Nadja Heigl, (AUT), 41:35
  • 21. Emma White, (USA), 41:45
  • 22. Loes Sels, (BEL), 41:56
  • 23. Inge Van Der Heijden, (NED), 42:08
  • 24. Marlene Petit, (FRA), 42:20
  • 25. Elle Anderson, (USA), 42:23
  • 26. Christel Ferrier Bruneau, (CAN), 42:32
  • 27. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 42:37
  • 28. Fleur Nagengast, (NED), 42:41
  • 29. Ellen Noble, (USA), 42:49
  • 30. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 42:50
  • 31. Ffion James, (GBR), 43:03
  • 32. Maghalie Rochette, (CAN), 43:09
  • 33. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 43:25
  • 34. Rebecca Fahringer, (USA), 43:47
  • 35. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 43:58
  • 36. Marion Norbert Riberolle, (FRA), 44:00
  • 37. Anais Grimault, (FRA), 44:06
  • 38. Nikola NoskovÁ, (CZE), 44:14
  • 39. Bethany Crumpton, (GBR), 44:54
  • 40. Francesca Baroni, (ITA), 45:00
  • 41. Pauline Delhaye, (FRA), 45:02
  • 42. Jade Wiel, (FRA), 45:16
  • 43. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 45:27
  • 44. Adéla ŠafÁŘovÁ, (CZE), 45:36
  • 45. Lisa Heckmann, (GER), 45:38
  • 46. Anna Kay, (GBR), 45:38
  • 47. Natalie Redmond, (AUS), 45:46
  • 48. Zina Barhoumi, (SUI), 45:46
  • 49. Fanny Stumpf, (FRA), 46:08
  • 50. Emily Wadsworth, (GBR), 46:14
  • 51. Sophie Thackray, (GBR), 46:48
  • 52. Suzanne Verhoeven, (BEL), 47:08
  • 53. Noemi RÜegg, (SUI), 47:21
  • 54. Jennifer Malik, (USA), 47:29
  • 55. Elizabeth UngermanovÁ, (CZE), 47:41
  • 56. Giovanna Michieletto, (ITA)
  • 57. Amaia Lartitegi Ormazabal, (ESP)
  • 58. Christine Vardaros, (USA)

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