Sanne Cant won the 2017 elite women's European Championship over Lucinda Brand. This is her third European title after victories in 2014

Sanne Cant (Belgium) sprinted to victory over Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) at the 2017 European Cyclocross Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic on Sunday. This is the third time that Cant has won the European title after triumphs in 2014 and 2015. However, this is the first time she has won the championship is the rainbow bands of world champion, after she powered to that title in February.

Cant battled throughout the race with Brand, Annemarie Worst, and Alice Marie Arzuffi. Worst was dropped midway through the race, so it was a three-way battle for the victory heading into the final lap.

Arzuffi lost contact with Brand and Cant three-quarters of the way through the lap with Brand laying down the power the on the front. The Dutchwoman opted to attack hard heading into the paved finishing straight, as Cant is known to have a fast finishing kick.

The Belgian came around Brand and took the victory wearing her rainbow bands. Arzuffi comfortably finished in the bronze medal position.

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The course in Tabor, Czech Republic for the 2017 European Cyclocross Championships is well-known to most of the seasoned cyclocross riders. The world championships were held there in 2010 and 2015. Tabor also hosted a world cup race on many occasions.

Brand took the holeshot and would not relinquish the lead until nearly a lap and a half later. The Dutchwoman’s fast start made the race extremely selective from the onset with only Cant and Annemarie Worst (Netherlands) able to follow.

Behind the trio, Italians Eva Lechner and Alice Marie Arzuffi led a four-rider chase that also included Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands) and Ellen van Loy (Belgium).

When Brand finally relented the lead, Worst came to the front and gave the lead group a bit of pace. Cant finally came to the front for the first time after the barriers about three-quarters of the way through the second lap and further increased the pace. This acceleration put Worst on the limit.

Meanwhile, Arzuffi had attacked out of the chase group and was making her way to the front. She would make the junction with the leaders on the pavement just as the group crossed the finish line to conclude lap two. At this point, they saw three laps remaining.

Brand, who just began her cyclocross season at the Koksijde world cup a few weeks ago, was put on the limit early-on in lap three, as Arzuffi spent little time in making her way to the front and driving the pace upward. While Brand would not be fully dispatched, by the end of the lap the lead group was back to three with Worst not able to hold the pace. She ended the lap 16 seconds behind, while Kaptheijns was solidly in fifth at 30 seconds. Van Loy and Lechner had ridden the last two laps together and were 44 seconds down on the leaders with two laps to go.

Cant, Brand, and Arzuffi each traded multiple attacks and accelerations on the fourth lap, but were unable to drop each other. The chasers had lost further ground to the leaders on the lap and Lehner had dropped van Loy to move into sixth place.

The final lap was filled excitement, as each of the three leading riders went from putting in an attack to being on the limit at the back of the group. The elastic finally snapped for Arzuffi after the barriers, leaving just Cant and Brand to battle for the European championship.

Brand attacked hard in the last few hundred meters before the paved finishing straight, but Cant fought hard and stayed on her wheel.

The finishing straight in Tabor is long compared to most courses the riders face throughout the year. It also curves to the left. Brand led-out the sprint, but Cant was able to come around to take the victory, despite having to go the long way on the right side.

This is the second straight year the current world champion has won the elite women’s European cyclocross title. Thalita de Jong (Netherlands) won last year.

Arzuffi finished comfrotably in third to take the bronze medal with Worst in fourth. Kaptheijns rounded out the top-five.

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