Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) looked at total ease in the deep sticky mud of Hoogerheide as she won the final round of the World Cup on Sunday. Katie Compton (KFC Racing-Trek-Knight Composites) took second place, while World Cup winner Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) took third.
“It felt super-good. I felt strong and I could use my power,” said Brand. “The first half was not really how I wanted it, but afterward I had more freedom to take my own lines.”
“It was hard. It was a mud-fest. The circumstances were hard, but it was for everybody,” said Vos. “I knew from the beginning, when I was in the front, I felt good, but I knew there were some girls chasing and I was waiting for their attack. Then, with Lucinda [Brand] going up front, I had some troubles to stay with her in the lead, so in the end, I was happy to race for third.”
After heavy rain both overnight and in the hours before the race, the course was covered in deep mud, making the technical course with its off-camber sections and tall steps all the more challenging.
Vos went off hard, establishing a gap almost immediately, with only Sanne Cant (Corendon-Circus) and Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal) able to stay close. By the end of lap one, this lead trio were together, with Cant dictating the pace.
Behind, Nikki Brammeier (Mudiita), Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Annemarie Worst (Steylaerts-777), and Brand chased.
On lap two, Brand looked to be finding her rhythm, riding through the deep muddy off-camber sections that many others had to run in order to negotiate. She managed to bridge across to lead duo Cant and Vos, with Brammeier on her wheel. As the racing moved into lap three, Brand looked to be getting stronger and stronger, and powered past Cant and Vos, with Vos noticeably fading.
As Brand started to stretch out a lead, the battle for second between Cant, Vos, Compton, Brammeier, Betsema, and Keough was fierce. Vos and Compton eventually came to the fore as the heavy mud and cold conditions looked to be making an impact on the others.
As the riders entered the fourth and final lap, Brand had gained a lead of 15 seconds, with Compton behind her in second. Brand held her lead through to the finish line, despite Compton racing hard, using her technical skills as much as possible to pull back time.
Brand took the victory in 43:18, with Compton crossing the line nine seconds later. Vos finished 26 seconds behind Brand in third.
“I was just trying to ride within myself, be smart and be smooth,” said Compton. “I set my pace, time trialed and it was going to be the result that it was. I didn’t have an asthma attack. I had a good race. Winning was out of my control. I’m really happy with second.”
Cant finished in fourth place on the day, and moved up to finish second in the World Cup, nudging Worst into third place overall.
“It’s not a statement [before the World Championships], but if you feel good you’ve got to use it, and it gives confidence for next week for sure,” said Brand, regarding next weekend’s race in Bogense (Denmark).