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One week after placing second at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took the win at the opening race of the cyclocross World Cup season in Waterloo, Wisconsin on a fast and technical course around the Trek Headquarters in Wisconsin. Vos outsprinted current world champion Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions), and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal) was third, completing a Dutch podium sweep.
Among a strong international women’s fields in warm and cloudy conditions, Brand, Vos, and Betsema were favorites, but it was Maghalie Rochette (Specialized) who got the quickest start, setting a fierce pace on the first lap of a circuit that included steep climbs, deep ruts and slippery turns.
By the end of the first lap, Rochette had dropped back and a leading group of nine formed, comprising Vos, Brand, Betsema, Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx), Hélene Clauzel (A.S Biketeam), Annemarie Worst (777), Fem Van Empel (Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal), Yara Kastelijn (IKO Crelan) and Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Fenix).
Moving up from a fourth row starting position, Olympic mountain bike champion Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing), riding in her title sponsor’s backyard, made contact with the leading group just before Betsema and Worst put down some pressure to go clear with Vos and Brand.
On the third lap, the leading quartet eased up on the finishing straight, allowing Blanka Vas and Clauzel to catch them. Betsema attacked, only to unship her chain on a tight turn. While the Dutch woman wrestled with her transmission, her compatriots pushed on.
Brand and Vos formed a powerful leading duo and though Brand repeatedly tried to forge a gap, Vos kept clawing her way back to the Baloise Trek Lions rider.
After neutralizing each other’s attacks, Brand and Vos eased their pace coming into the final lap, allowing Betsema to come back to them, with Neff on her wheel.
Betsema put in an attack as they came through the pits but this race was always going to come down to the two decorated road riders.
On the approach to the final technical section, Brand and Vos battled side by side to get to the front. Vos muscled her way through and led into the finishing straight, where she burst towards the finish line and the first World Cup win of the season.
Vos screamed with delight and punched the air before promptly collapsing to the ground after the line. She had to go deep to beat Brand. Betsema came in third, no doubt rueing her chain mishap, and Neff took an impressive fourth.
|1||Marianne Vos||Jumbo Visma||48.28|
|2||Lucinda Brand||Baloise Trek Lions||0:02|
|3||Denise Betsema||Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal||0:03|
|4||Jolanda Neff||Trek Factory Racing||0:19|
|6||Kata Blanka Vas||SD Worx||0:32|
|7||Hélene Clauzel||A.S Biketeam||0:35|
|8||Puck Pieterse||Alpecin Fenix||0:50|
|9||Yara Kastelijn||IKO Crelan||1:06|