Maud Kaptheijns (Crelan-Charles) led from start to finish to win the opening round of the Superprestige series on Saturday in Gieten, Belgium. The Dutchwoman was untouchable on the fast course that included tricky sand sections along a beach. She finished more than 40 seconds ahead of Niki Brammeier (Boels-Dolmans) and Sophie De Boer (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil).
The start line for the opening round of the premier Superprestige series, which many consider the top cyclocross series below the world cup, was stacked. Three world champions were lining up for the race. World champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), fresh off a win at the Waterloo world cup, was there, along with under-23 cyclocross world champion Annemarie Worst (Era-Circus). Freshly crowned elite individual time trial champion Ammemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) was also in the race.
While Kaptheijns escaped on the opening lap never to be seen again, there was a tight race behind battling for the podium. At the end of the opening lap, a three-rider chase had formed with De Boer, Cant, and Worst. Brammeier and American Elle Anderson (Cycling.be–Alpha Motorhomes Ladies) were a few seconds behind the trio.
Brammeier and Anderson made contact with the chase group on the third of six laps, as Kaptheejins had all but secured the win by this point. She held over a 30-second lead, clearly not feeling the effects of jet lag and traveling back from the United States earlier in the week.
With one lap to go, the five chasers were still together, but Cant was at the back dangling on and off the group, appearing to be on the limit. Heading into an uphill sandy section, Cant made a move to improve her position in the group, but it turned into a disaster. There was one clean line going through the section and thus Cant opted to try to power through the sand, avoiding the clean line. She lost control of her bike and crashed into Worst.
De Boer and Brammeier got through the section unscathed as they were in front of Worst. Anderson was able to hop-off her bike and run around Cant and Worst while the duo worked to untangle themselves and fix their bikes. Cant’s bars were twisted and Worst was having issues with her chain.
Wyman, who had been chasing alone behind, also passed the two world champions.
A smile crossed Kaptheijns’ face even before she entered the finishing straight for the final time. She had put on a dominant performance with no one able to match her pace throughout the entirety of the race. Brammeier was able to gap De Boer to take second place.
Anderson came home in fourth and Wyman was fifth. Cant managed to beat Worst to sixth, but her crash caused her a chance at a podium.
The Superprestige series continues October 15 at the famous sandy downhill descents of Zonhoven.
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