Eva Lechner (Colnago-Sudtirol) took the lead in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup after winning the second round on Sunday at Valkenburg in the Netherlands.
American Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) took second with Pavla Havlikova (MRM-Avalon) third.
“It was really hard for me,” said the Italian champion, who was still suffering a bit of jet lag after traveling to and from Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic mountain bike test event, which she also won. “The course was really hard. I’m so happy that I managed to win.
“It was a perfect race for me here, with the climbs and descents. It was very technical, so I could use my abilities as a mountain biker on this course. I had a very good start. I was immediately at the front, and I didn’t hesitate. I just went for it. I could make the gap bigger and bigger every lap. Also technically everything worked out pretty well. I didn’t make any mistakes.”
As for Antonneau, she said she was excited to get a front-row start and made the most of it.
“Going into today I was excited because I had a front-row start, and that was a first for me. So I was just looking forward to that,” she said.
“The harder and more technical, I think, the better for me. I was confident after pre-ride and I just focused on my race and kept in mind a bit of advice I got beforehand, and just tried to stay relaxed. As it got closer to the end, I was trying not to think about that I was in the top three, because I didn’t want to mess it up. But coming through those last turns the last lap, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to get on the podium!’
“I think I rode a smooth and fast and relaxed race, so I’m proud. It was very, very, very difficult.”
Lechner, who finished second to Katerina Nash (Luna) in the World Cup opener in Las Vegas, now leads the series with 110 points. Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), third at CrossVegas, sits second with 85 while Antonneau is third with 65.
The new series leader said she wasn’t certain whether she would contend for the overall crown.
“I don’t know yet which World Cup I will do. I will try to do as much as possible,” she said.
The next round of the World Cup will be November 22 at Koksijde, Belgium.
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report.