The rainbow bands will stay on the shoulders of Sanne Cant for another year. The Belgian came out on top in a duel for the ages with American Katie Compton at the UCI World Cyclocross Championships in Valkenburg, the Netherlands on Saturday. Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) took home bronze for the host nation.
Compton recovered from a slow start and bad first lap to storm back to the front of the race and go wheel-to-wheel with Cant. The race was by no means perfect and it came down to who made the least amount of mistakes. Cant was clearly the stronger runner and used this to her advantage.
When Compton and Cant both pitted to get a clean bike in the first half of the final lap, the Belgian pounced. The pit was in horrible condition and forced both riders to run. Cant’s pit box was midway through the pit, while Compton’s box was at the end. Cant was able to close the slight gap Compton had and then attacked when both riders turned onto the pavement section after the pit.
Compton simply had no response and would lose ground to Cant throughout the rest of the circuit.
The Belgian had enough time to sit-up and soak-in the crowd on the finishing straight. Cant pumped her fist multiple times in celebration. Compton crossed the line fighting back tears. She earned her fifth world cyclocross championship medal in Valkenburg, but the gold one has eluded her. She has four silver medals and one bronze.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Compton said after the race. “It was the best I could do — Sanne was better at the end. It was an exciting race.
“[Sanne] probably the strongest and most well-rounded world champion we’ve had.I would say my first three laps were much better than my last lap.That’s what my body gave me today.”
- 1. Sanne Cant, (Belgium), in 49:34
- 2. Katherine Compton, (United Stats of America), at +00:12
- 3. Lucinda Brand, (Netherlands), +00:26
- 4. Christine Majerus, (Luxembourg), +00:55
- 5. Elisabeth Brandau, (Germany), at +1:26
- 6. Kaitlin Keough, (United States of America), +01:45
- 7. Eva Lechner, (Italy), +01:49
- 8. Elle Anderson, (United States of America), +01:57
- 9. Marlène Petit, (France), +02:10
- 10. Caroline Mani, (France), +02:38
When the elite women took to the start line in Valkenburg on Saturday afternoon, the ruts were deep and the descents were even more treacherous. The course favored those that could slog through the mud, but riders also needed to have exceptional bike handling skills if they wanted to be competitive at the front of the race.
Eva Lechner (Italy) took the holeshot, as the riders dove down the opening harrowing descent to begin the lap. Compton had a slow start and was nowhere near the front. However, another American Elle Anderson was in the mix early on. She managed to squeeze to the front on the paved start and was riding in the top 10 to begin the race. Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) slotted into second behind Lechner.
Lechner would slide out on a tough off-camber section and due to the mud she even slid under the fencing lining the course. She recovered quickly enough to not lose too much ground. Cant calmly took over the lead, as Ellen van Loy (Belgium) and Majerus followed. Lechner joined a large chase group not too far back, as Compton was seen powering past riders.
At the end of the opening lap, the defending champion was alone in the lead with a nine-second advantage over Majerus. Compton had made her way into third, 24 seconds behind. The time gaps may have been significant for an opening lap on any other course, but not in Valkenburg. Due to the brutal nature of the parcours and the extreme conditions, a 10-second deficit could be wiped away quite quickly.
Compton made quick work of Majerus and finally was able to begin to go after Cant in earnest. She would make it to her before the lap was over, making it a duel for the rainbow bands with two laps to go. The second lap was Compton’s fastest of the race.
At this point, Dutchwoman Lucinda Brand was beginning to make her mark in the race. She moved into fourth behind Majerus and was closing the gap to the final podium place quickly. The win was out of reach by the end of lap two. Majerus finished the lap 30 seconds down on the two leaders and Brand was about five seconds behind her. Nash was in fifth nearly a minute down.
Cant slipped at the top of one of the brutally steep run-ups and Compton capitalized. A slight misstep by Cant turned into an eight-second deficit by the end of the lap. Meanwhile, Majerus and Brand were not giving each other an inch. They were locked in an intense battle for the final world championship medal.
An impressive slog through the mud put Cant within touching distance of Compton as the two riders neared the pits for the first time on the final lap. Both opted to take a bike and this is where the race was won. Cant took advantage of her running strength to close the gap and the attacked Compton out of the pits. The American simply had no response. She would continuously lose time to Cant the rest of the lap.
Brand came on strong in the final lap and gapped Majerus. The Luxembourg rider also looked to be suffering greatly.
Onto the terrible 30-step flyover run-up for the final time, Cant began shaking her head. The win was all, but secured. She was going to be world champion again.
Cant bathed in the cheers of the crowd down the finishing straight and let out many roars of joy. Compton crossed the line holding back tears.
Brand held her gap over Majerus for the second half of the final lap to take home the bronze medal, 26 seconds behind Cant. Majerus finished fourth, Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) was fifth and American Kaitie Keough came home in sixth.
Elle Anderson came home in eighth to put three Americans in the top 10.
- 1. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 49:34
- 2. Katherine Compton, (USA), 49:46
- 3. Lucinda Brand, (NED), 50:00
- 4. Christine Majerus, (LUX), 50:29
- 5. Elisabeth Brandau, (GER), 51:00
- 6. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 51:19
- 7. Eva Lechner, (ITA), 51:23
- 8. Elle Anderson, (USA), 51:31
- 9. Marlène Petit, (FRA), 51:44
- 10. Caroline Mani, (FRA), 52:12
- 11. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 52:23
- 12. Katerina Nash, (CZE), 52:29
- 13. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 52:38
- 14. Annemarie Worst, (NED), 53:03
- 15. Loes Sels, (BEL), 53:07
- 16. Alice Maria Arzuffi, (ITA), 53:10
- 17. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 53:12
- 18. Marianne Vos, (NED), 53:17
- 19. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 53:27
- 20. Kim Van De Steene, (BEL), 53:28
- 21. Aida NuÑo Palacio, (ESP), 53:49
- 22. Maghalie Rochette, (CAN), 54:01
- 23. Bethany Crumpton, (GBR), 54:09
- 24. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA), 54:14
- 25. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 54:33
- 26. Courtenay Mcfadden, (USA), 55:16
- 27. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 55:45
- 28. Rebecca Fahringer, (USA), 56:05
- 29. Christel Ferrier Bruneau, (CAN), 56:26
- 30. Lucia Gonzalez Blanco, (ESP), 56:57
- 31. Mical Dyck, (CAN), 57:38
- 32. Ellen Noble, (USA), 57:45
- 33. Thalita De Jong, (NED), 57:51
- 34. Eri Yonamine, (JPN), 58:00
- 35. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 58:18
- 36. Olatz Odriozola Mugica, (ESP), 58:44
- 37. Miho Imai, (JPN)
- 38. Kristina Thrane, (DEN)
- 39. Maria Larkin, (IRL)
- 40. Stacey Riedel, (AUS)
- 41. Marta Turobos, (POL)