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Czech Olympian Katerina Nash (Luna) claimed her first World Cup cyclocross victory of the season on Sunday.
After winning the Czech Republic’s national cyclocross championship title the weekend before, Nash took on a muddy course and a competitive field in Namur, Belgium, the fourth round of the World Cup.
“It wasn’t easy, but it was a good ride,” said Nash. “I had two tiny little hiccups, but overall I just had a really good day and I’m super excited about it. I raced here two years ago and I just knew I wanted to come back to Namur. I really like the course and the steep ups and downs. So I’m really happy to come here and have a really good ride.
Rabo-Liv’s Marianne Vos captured second place, and American Katie Compton (Trek) rounded out the podium in third. Vos had a fast start and an early lead, but Nash chased her down and then forged on alone to win.
“Marianne got a gap and I just slowly worked my way up toward her, and we rode just briefly together,” Nash said. “I just felt stronger, and I wanted to go because you never know, you know? You can have a flat tire, anything could happen, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta go, I’ve got to keep going hard.'”
Until recently, Nash, 37, had raced primarily in the U.S. during the fall season. However, the Luna rider has had no problem stepping up to the international level of competition, besting the reigning world champion, Vos, by 34 seconds.
“It was not a win, but I’m quite happy with a first ride,” said Vos. “This is a hard one, and I knew up front that it was going to be really tough. I was happy with the start, I had some advantage, but I knew it was going to be hard to stay in the lead.
“I saw Katerina coming, and I tried to keep up but I didn’t have anything left, so I had to take my own rhythm and had to let her go. But I’m really happy with second place in my first race, and I hope that the rhythm will come race by race.”
Compton finished over one minute behind the day’s winner after battling with world road champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Belgian Sanne Cant, who held the series lead going into Namur, had a disappointing showing, finishing sixth. However, she managed to hold the World Cup leader’s jersey, thanks to a strong final lap that saw her move up from eight place.
“Today I’m really happy,” said Compton, who is still struggling with asthma. “I felt like today I won because I finished the race. I was able to manage my breathing enough to get to the finish. And then, I also rode a clean race. Technically I felt pretty good. I was able to push hard on enough sections to not lose time.
“I knew Katerina was riding fast, knew Marianne was going to ride fast, so they were off the front and I was like, ‘I’ve got to cut my losses and just finish as high as I can.'”