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Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) won the penultimate round of the cyclocross World Cup in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on the day after Christmas.
Katerina Nash (Luna), who won the fourth round of the World Cup the weekend before in Namur, continued her string of strong results, finishing second behind the reigning world cyclocross champion. Another world champ, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv), who currently holds the crown in the road race discipline, was third.
“It’s a good feeling,” Vos said. “I know last year it took a little longer to get a first big win. But it was a good start last week, so it gave me some confidence for this race. I knew Zolder is a circuit that suits me better than Namur. But yeah, I knew also that the competition is very strong, and it’s not only one name, it’s five, six, seven names that are up there in front. It made for exciting racing.”
Despite a flat tire during the race, Vos was able to make her move in the finale and win by four seconds.
“I had a good start, and Pauline as well,” Vos said. “So I took the lead and saw I had a little gap, and yeah, you have to make the decision whether to continue or to wait. It’s a lap I know I can stay in the rhythm, and can keep the speed until the end. But then in the final lap they came by, I had to change bikes, and I was lucky that I could change bikes and catch up right again, to recover a bit and race the final.”
After colliding with Ferrand-Prévot in a corner late in the race, Nash out-sprinted the French champion by a narrow margin.
“That’s why you never take the outside of the corner,” Nash said. “It happens, it’s bike racing. I went for what I thought was a faster line, but I got cut on the inside. I was going for [the win]. Obviously it was a really long sprint finish, so I wanted to get ahead on the uphill and maybe be a little bit up on the downhill. So I tried, I tried really hard and sometimes it doesn’t work. But I’d rather try hard than just sit behind. We caught up to [Vos] and at that point we were like, ‘Okay, maybe we can do something. Let’s try.’ So I was fighting until the end, and I’m still very happy with second place.”
Ferrand-Prévot said she was content with her first-ever cyclocross World Cup podium finish.
“I’m happy,” Ferrand-Prévot said. “It’s my first podium in [the cyclocross World Cup] so I’m quite happy. I did a good start and after that Marianne was in the front, so I stayed in the rear of Nash and could recover on her wheel, so that was good for me also. And then Marianne had a flat tire and I didn’t attack because I wanted Marianne to be able to recover, so I waited and I was not so confident for the last part of the track, because it was too steep for me. I said, ‘Okay, maybe in the sprint I can win,’ but I was blocked. But I’m happy with this result.”
American Katie Compton (Trek) withdrew from the race due to problems with her asthma. This aided Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) in keeping her World Cup series lead, despite a major mechanical. The Belgian champion finished seventh.